How to Prepare for an Unmedicated Birth

Whether it’s your first baby or your fifth, you may want to try an unmedicated birth.

Everyone should do what is right for their body. It’s important to go into every birth, whether it’s your first or fifth, with an open mind. Each pregnancy and birth are different. Understanding your original plan might not pan out will help you be more flexible when making choices about birth. 

If you’re wondering why anyone would choose to have an unmedicated birth…

The pros of a natural birth are: 

  • Eating and drink while you’re laboring 
  • Walking around 
  • Ability to move in or out of a shower or tub 
  • Using a yoga ball 
  • Choosing your birthing position 
  • No after-effects or waiting to stand up 

I wanted to go unmedicated for my first two births. So, I educated myself, I talked to my midwife, and I told her my plan. She provided me with information from the local hospital and recommended the website spinningbabies.com.

My midwife also explained that midwives, specifically, are birthing experts. Treating with a midwife, and attending their classes at our local hospital, helped my husband and I understand their approach and learn what we could do to prepare. 

Here is what I took away from each class and used the most before and during childbirth.

Affirmations

A successful birth, medicated or not, includes affirmations and a positive mindset. I believe our mindset affects everything we do, so if you want to manage through birth you need to be in the right mindset. Affirmations helped me get into the right mindset, and they also expanded my mindset. 

You’re not the first person to do this. You’re not alone. Countless women have done this before you and you can do it now.  

I used to think of birth as a medical procedure that required doctors but after reading through some affirmations, I realized that it’s a natural process. There are complications and not every natural process comes naturally—which is why some people wear glasses and some people have allergies—so I do believe a medical setting is the best place to birth. But I also believe we should trust more in our bodies than we do. Doing this, for many women, might require sayings that remind you, you’re in control, your body is your own. 

Something I said over and over in my head while in transition with my first was, “You’re not the first person to do this. You’re not alone. Countless women have done this before you and you can do it now.”  

There was also a helpful acronym that kept me focused on an unmedicated birth while I was not laboring… because when you’re at home, googling and scrolling Facebook or parenting groups, you might start reading stories that will have you second-guessing your decision. 

Here it is: 

P – purposeful, there is a reason you’re experiencing discomfort and it’s purposeful.

A – anticipated, you know you’re going to experience discomfort, it’s not a shock.

I – intermittent, the discomfort will not be constant and you can find breaks to breathe. 

N – normal, what you’re experiencing is normal and there is no reason to panic or be afraid. 

You can find more affirmations online, I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to natural birthing with affirmations.  

Exercise 

My first birth was so much easier than my second, although my second was faster by a half hour. The reason the first was easier was that I had prepared. Birth is like a marathon, you need to build up your endurance levels and prepare your body to go through something you don’t normally go through. 

I would walk daily, do squats and lunges, and bounce on an exercise ball. It was important to strengthen my core and pelvic muscles so I had the energy to go through birth because I knew if my body got tired, I’d lose energy and the pain would worsen. 

Normally, I am not a person who exercises regularly. I always start programs, or join gyms, or download apps, and never follow through. But with birth, I knew it was coming and I needed to stick to a routine. I used Pinterest to motivate me, I would pin exercises and images of exercising to keep myself in the mindset of being healthy. And when I could, I would do my exercises. This wasn’t consistent and I was never able to do the same routine two days in a row, but I kept myself active and in the end, it helped. 

Healthy Eating 

Something my midwife stressed at each appointment was healthy eating and lots of hydration throughout my entire pregnancy. Keeping my body hydrated and healthy made sure I was as best prepared as possible for an unmedicated birth. 

Absorbing vitamins and utilizing nutrients happens by eating the right foods and giving your body what it needs. Your body will adapt to whatever eating habits you develop which means you cannot switch to healthy and efficient eating and expect to reap results quickly. 

It takes time to train your body how to use what you’re putting in it. 

One of the most common questions new moms had, and one I had for my midwife, was will I poop during labor. Like, oh my god. I was mortified of the thought and I felt like it would inhibit my ability to feel comfortable during birth. She told me that your body responds to different things based on your diet. If I kept a good, healthy diet throughout my pregnancy and helped my digestive system operate efficiently on a consistent basis, it was unlikely I would be backed up enough to release waste during labor. This was the biggest driving factor for me to change my diet from take-out and fast food to fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. I wanted so badly to avoid feeling embarrassed during birth (of course, once you go through it, you realize nothing could embarrass you while you’re laboring, ha.). 

A Good Support Person

Having a good support person is so important. You should not stress over who “should be allowed” in the room, or who wants to be in the room. When you’re trying to get a baby out, and if you want an unmedicated or natural birth, you have to be able to stay focused and preserve all of your physical and emotional energy for yourself. 

Birthing is a very isolating moment, even if you’re surrounded by people, you’re doing it by yourself. You need to be able to emotionally walk yourself through every moment. Having someone in the room who is a drain on your emotions is not necessary. Birth is not a show and you are not a vessel delivering a prize. You’re a human going through a very trying experience. 

Also, I say ‘person’ not ‘team’ because I found it best to focus on one set of eyes and hold one hand. I did not want to be distracted by who wanted to support me. I imagined my mom or sister seeing me in labor and knew they would want to help. During birth, I didn’t want to have to communicate too often or say who I needed. Having one person in there helped keep the moment about me and the baby. 

The Real Facts about Natural or Unmedicated Birth

Some truth about having a natural birth: 

1. Nobody will be able to describe the intensity of contractions to you. I know you’re tempted to ask and find out, but you’re going to be shocked either way. 

2. Everyone is different but hearing success stories will help you keep a positive mindset. Alternatively, hearing horror stories will cause you to take on a negative mindset. 

3. When people ask you about how you’re going to birth, and you say natural, most of them will tell you that you can’t do it. 

4. You don’t get a medal for giving birth naturally, only choose to do it because you want to. If it sounds scary or crazy, don’t do it just because your mom or cousin did. 

5. There is no “easier” way to give birth. There are pros and cons to natural birth and to using pain relievers. 

Remember birthing plans are not written in stone and things can change at any moment. I wanted that “oh shit” moment. My water breaking, us grabbing the bags to run to the hospital. But instead, I ended up getting induced with both of my babies. You don’t have to take pain medications just because you’ve been induced. Some people believe induction medications will make labor worse but I birthed twice, induced, without pain relief medications, so it’s possible if you’ve prepared your mind and body. 

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