When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I knew without a doubt that I wanted to try to deliver her naturally without medication. My mom had delivered my siblings and I that way, my sister had also done it! It was the one thing I was always sure of when I thought about my future children!
So, I did like most first time moms desiring tips for natural birth and scoured the internet for birth stories from moms who had experienced unmedicated birth and succeeded. I was a YouTube junky for birth videos, much to my husband’s dismay! As a doctor myself, I really wanted to know everything there was to know about childbirth particularly from other mothers who experienced the natural birth that I wanted.
Hearing the stories of others can help you not only get the full picture of the experience, especially if you listen empathetically, but it can also allow you to easily gather anecdotal tips that are helpful resources to keep in your unmedicated birth toolkit.
What are the benefits of natural childbirth?
While studies show that most moms (60%) opt for an epidural as a pain management technique for childbirth; there are still many moms who desire to experience an unmedicated birth. Since the beginning of time women have been having children without medication and many women want to have that experience.
Our bodies were created to nurture a baby prior to entering the world and they were created to birth that child into the world! Not only were we created for this but there are some amazing benefits to having an unmedicated birth. Some of those benefits include:
- Shorter labor
- Faster recovery following birth
- Facilitated breastfeeding
- Feelings of Empowerment
- Freedom during labor
Tips for natural birth from everyday moms
Hearing the stories of other moms is super encouraging as you prepare for the birth of your child. Knowing that other women have gone through what your desiring to go through as a first-time mom can be an empowering exercise and can help you build a list of testimony that speaks to our ability as women!
The following stories and tips for unmedicated birth from some of my fellow blogger mama friends are so uplifting and encouraging!
Tip 1: With unmedicated birth, focus on one contraction at a time
“My second son’s birth was unmedicated. I got to the hospital too early, but thankfully I stuck round because 20 minutes later I was going through transition and my only outlet through the pain was screaming through each contraction. They told me it was too late for an epidural and that my son would be here soon! We were only at the hospital for a total of 2 hours before he was born.
In having an unmedicated birth, my biggest suggestion is to take it one contraction at a time.
Tip 2: Pain from natural childbirth is temporary
“I’m a mom of two and I’ve given birth both with an epidural and without. Maybe it sounds crazy to you, but after doing both I would hands down give birth without an epidural again. Yes, that’s right without one! It wasn’t as bad as the movies make it out to be and I recovered much faster.
Giving birth is such a beautiful life experience and you truly experience it in full without medication.
My biggest tip for natural birth is to remember that the pain is temporary.
Tip 3: Remember that unmedicated birth allows you to be in control
“As intense as it can be in the moment, being fully aware of what your body is doing gives YOU the most control over the situation. My second child got stuck for a bit and we had to work extra hard to get him out. The fact that I wasn’t numbed in any way allowed me to give that extra power to my pushing that got him out safely.”
Tip 4: Get a midwife!!!!!!
With my first two, I only had doctors. They were wonderful, but my third birth was so different and I credit my amazing midwife for that. She never once told me what to do. And if I felt I needed to do something, she supported it. When birthing unmedicated, you need to really listen to your body, so it is absolutely monumental to have the person overseeing your labor allow you that freedom!
Tip 5: Invest in a doula to assist in your natural birth desires
My number one tip is to invest in a doula. This is specifically for those that have not had an unmedicated birth before. Birthing coaches will support you in your goals and believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself. My doula actually didn’t make it to the delivery for my fourth child since she came so fast, but having the experience of using a doula for my third and finally having a natural birth, I had the confidence to push through (pun intended) and have yet another unmedicated birth.
Tip 6: Have a positive mindset surrounding labor
I had an unmedicated (planned) home birth (unplanned) back in September of 2019. I started having contractions at 2 am, 3 weeks before my due date and my son was born at 3:31pm later that same day. The pain from the contractions was completely manageable for 95% of the time. I would rock on my exercise ball, listen to calming music, and just breathe through the contractions. My midwives recommended that I labor at home for as long as possible if I wanted to avoid the epidural. Unfortunately for me, my body completely raced through active labor and transition to baby crowning within 30 minutes. At that point, I started panicking and all my pain management techniques sort of got away from me. Thankfully, my midwife made it just in time to deliver him, and he was born completely healthy. I wanted an unmedicated birth because I strongly believe that our bodies were made for childbirth! My number one tip for natural birth is to have a positive mindset surrounding labor and childbirth. Watch videos, look at pictures, and listen to other women’s stories.
Tip 7 & 8: Remember you were designed to do this and Commit you desires for an unmedicated birth to the Lord!
“I have always considered myself an old soul. When I was preparing for my first child, I was dead set on a natural birth, breastfeeding, natural foods, and no meds. But, things don’t always work out as planned. Due to some complications and my asthma, I had the choice of c-section or take the epidural so I could breath. I chose the epidural. This made me feel like a failure. I sort of gave up on my dream with the next two babies and just took the epidural.
Then, five and half years ago, I got a surprise of being pregnant with my forth. I made a decision to commit my desires to the Lord. Not that I didn’t pray over the first three, but I never really involved Him in my entire decision making or prayed over my desire to have a natural birth. Well, long story short, I stood up one morning with cramps, water broke, hubby rushed me to the hospital, and she was already coming out so they put me on a bed in the ER. No time for anything but a little push. I can say honestly that even though I was nearly 10 years older than with my first, my recovery without any drugs was so much smoother and faster. I am a firm believer that God made our bodies to naturally have and recover from child birth and I am so blessed to have finally been able to have experienced that design.
My two takeaways: 1) Commit you desires to the Lord. 2) God designed our bodies to experience and recover from child birth. (Note: I am not discounting complications where it is vital to save a mother or baby’s life. Also, preventing distress that could lead to complications which is what I experienced with my first.)”
Tip 9: Rest when Labor Starts
“My 2nd & 3rd came too fast. Then I decided to do unmedicated for my 4th & 5th child but 1 was induced after a 19 hour labor that stalled and the other was breach so I had a c-section. I found unmedicated to be the easiest to recover from by far. My best advice is to rest when labor starts so you can save your energy. You will need it when you are in transition.”
Tip #10: Use Positive Birth Affirmations
My first son was born in November of 2013. I took a Hypnobirthing class and felt a strong desire to have an unmedicated birth. My water broke at 11:15 pm and contractions started 15 minutes later. We went to the hospital at 2:30 am when my contractions were about six minutes apart. I did not like my nurse upon checking in. She gave me a little speech about when it would be too late to get an epidural. I ended up laboring all night long. About two hours before my son was born, I told my husband I was beginning to have doubts. I was progressing so slow and I was exhausted. But he encouraged me to stay strong. When it came time to push, it only took a few contractions, and my son was born at 9:23 am. My nurse came to me before her shift ended to tell me she was very impressed by how well I did.
Tip #11: Be confident in yourself and trust your body.
My second son was born in June of 2016. During my pregnancy, I kept myself awake at night worrying about not making it to the hospital in time to deliver. That is exactly what happened. I started having contractions at 4:00 am so I went into the living room to lay on the couch and make the most of my contractions with a breathing technique I learned from Hypnobirthing. At 7 am, my husband left for work, thinking we had plenty of time since my water hadn’t even broken. My water broke an hour later, contractions really started picking up. My MIL came over at 8:30 to help me pack the rest of my son’s things. At 8:54, my MIL was on the phone with 911 because I needed to push. At 8:56, my husband got home from work. My son was born at 8:58 am and the ambulance arrived at 9:02.
Tip #12: Walk to help speed up labor
My third child, and first daughter, was born in May of 2020, right in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. Because of how my second birth went, my doctor said to get to the hospital when my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart or quickly after my water broke. I woke up at 4:30 am having contractions. We left for the hospital at 7 am when my contractions were anywhere from 2-5 minutes apart. After checking into the hospital and being monitored for an hour, my husband and I walked about half a mile around the maternity floor. That walking helped me dilate from a 3 to a 6 in about an hour. The laborist broke my water at 11:30 am and my baby girl was born at 12:18 pm. My nurse delivered her because my doctor didn’t get to the hospital in time.
Tip 13: Have a labor team
At 5:00 in the morning I woke up thinking I had a stomach ache from last night’s Chipotle. It took me about 3 hours of waves of stomach cramps for me to realize I was in labor. My entire labor was nothing like what I expected. I was told contractions would be obvious from the start. That they would start out further apart then get closer together and more intense. That they needed to be 5 minutes apart, like clockwork, before I went to the hospital. But for the entire 21+ hours I was in labor my contractions were no more than 12 minutes apart and not at all like clockwork. 12 minutes. 5 minutes. 7 minutes. 3 minutes. They were all over the place. With contractions that close together for more than 21 hours I was utterly exhausted 18 hours in. I had no more energy to think about how I wanted to labor, what position I wanted to push in, what helped relieve pressure, everything I had learned from birthing class went out the window.
Looking back, there were a lot of things I would’ve changed about how I labored those last few hours had I had the energy to think about it. In short, I didn’t feel like my voice was heard because I was too tired to speak up. The number one thing I wish I could go back and change was to have a doula with me. If you plan to have a natural labor, think about having a doula or even a family member or friend who is educated in labor techniques who isn’t your husband join you in labor. Having this extra person can allow you and your husband to focus on actual labor while the doula or extra person can remind you to try positions and techniques that might help you when you’re too tired to think of them yourself.
Tip 14: Consider Mom-led pushing and Chiropractic Care leading up to Birth and After
Consider mom-led pushing as a part of your birthing plan. Research shows mom-led pushing significantly decreases tears, allows mom to stay energized during birthing time, mitigates the trauma of a forceful birth as mom follows her body’s cues. Personally, this method helped me to feel in control while simultaneously fully yielded to the process.
Consider chiropractic care through your pregnancy up until your birthing time and immediately after! Ella had an adjustment her first week of life and it was amazing for our breastfeeding journey! There are so many benefits to mom and baby!
Re-imagine the birthing experience using ‘softer’ words. The word ‘labor’ is the word traditionally used but even thinking of it as ‘hard’ from the onset creates an image of the experience that might not be encouraging. Your words are powerful! I created Truth and Affirmation cards as a part of reimagining my birth and they were a game changer! Be thoughtful about the connotation of the words you frequently use during the pregnancy and birthing process and encourage words that bring you peace and joy, and don’t be afraid to share and hold your birthing to that same expectation.
A perfect story for me was never about duplicating another mamas birth…instead it was one in which I felt peace and contentment, no matter what happened. Even after I read the stories and watched videos of other women birthing, I had to decide my own birth story, just like you do now.
Choose well mama girl!
Bonus Natural Birth Tip: Create a Birth Plan but be open to changes
My natural birth story starts with almost 18 hours of leaking fluid! When I was 1 day before my due date, I woke up really needing to go to the bathroom, and didn’t all the way make it! Smh! For the rest of the day, I swore I had lost control of my bladder. The next morning as I casually mentioned my leaky bladder to my mom, I was encouraged to seek care. At Labor and Delivery, I quickly found out that my water had in fact broken, and I was going to have to do something to get contractions started! I did NOT want Pitocin and because I had taken the time to learn so much about labor prior to actually going into it I had a contingency plan. When my midwife recommended Cytotec and mentioned the side effects, while I was disappointed that I wouldn’t have the completely medicine free birth I wanted, I was confident that I wasn’t so far off course that I couldn’t still have a minimal intervention birth. Prayerfully, my daughter was born healthy after 4 hours of contractions and only 16 minutes of pushing. With no additional interventions. My advice is to be flexible and learn as much as you can!
Ashley from Undoubted Grace
How do I increase my chance of having a natural birth?
If you desire to have a natural birth, you can be encouraged that your dreams are possible! Preparation is vital to planning for a natural unmedicated birth! Learn as much as you can about how the body prepares for birth!
Look for natural birth resources such as calming playlists, stretching exercises, and prayers to recite as affirmations while you are laboring! When you prepare yourself for your intended outcome you increase your chances of the natural birth without medication you desire!