Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How Do I Prepare for A Non-Medicated Birth?

This is a question I am asked quite frequently, especially since I have had 5 births without an epidural. I'm sure everyone who has had natural, unmedicated labor has different things they would advise, so here are some general tips.

  1. Pray a lot! And when you think you have prayed all you can pray some more. Seriously, I could not have gotten through any of my labors without a lot of prayer. Many of my prayers reflect Psalm 23 or simply asking God for help and strength to get through this contraction.
  2. Know what helps you to relax. This is going to be different for everyone. Maybe it's music. Maybe it's having some one massage your back, feet, hands etc. Perhaps silence with minimal lighting. Know yourself and know what is going to help you to be calm in an intense time.
  3. Practice relaxing before you're in labor. Set aside a couple times each week at the very least to practice relaxing your body in the type of environment you would like to have for your labor. For example, if you plan to have music, put it on and practice relaxing with it. As you get closer to your due date, make this more frequent, with practice as many days as possible by 35 weeks. 
  4. Memorize Scripture. This is such a great way to help you mentally concentrate on the Lord and not your circumstances. Find a Psalm or passage that really speaks to you and your relationship with God and focus on it. 
  5. Plan to stay home as long as possible. You might think I'm a bit crazy with this one, but if you are healthy, the baby is healthy, your labor is progressing normally and your water has not broken, stay in your own environment as long as possible. Once you enter the hospital you are on their turf, their timetable and it becomes more difficult to get comfortable and relaxed. I have not had this luxury with most of mine, and am hoping this will be the case for my next one as my third, where I was home the most, was my best as a whole.
  6. Do Exercises. These help prepare your body for the stretching and pressure that come with giving birth. I find these very helpful to do regularly, daily if at all possible.
  7. Expect it to be hard. I really wish I had been better at this during my last labor. Because I had had fairly easy labors previously, I had forgotten that labor can be very hard. Prepare mentally for the worst and hopefully it will not be as bad as you are expecting.
  8. In labor, take each contraction as it comes. Once you think, "Is it going to get worse than this?" you are already on your way to needing medicine. Instead say, "OK, here it comes," then relax as you have practiced. Contractions will get more intense toward the end, generally speaking, but if you take each as it comes, you will likely make it. 
  9. In labor, ask your providers not to ask you if you want medication. They generally will tell you what medicine is available to you, but afterward you can say thank you for letting you know and that you will let them know if you need anything. 
  10. Know who you want in your room ahead of time. If you want the bare minimum number of people, then arrange that. Let people who might want to be there know that you desire for them to wait until after the birth. If you have unwanted guests and are uncomfortable saying something you can always ask your nurse or provider to be the bad guy and tell people to leave. If you want many, know that some places will not allow more than 3 or so extra people. Find out what the policies are where you are planning to deliver.
What is your advice? How do you prepare for a natural labor?

Revised from "Tips for Preparing for Natural Labor" on "Childbirth Conversations", May 15, 2014

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