For the next three days I will be posting a series of archived posts (from last year) that encourage and empower women to have Natural Non-Medicated Births!
Do Not Settle
Before we knew of Midwives in our area we chose a hospital that was close to us that had pretty good reviews. We wanted to check them out to see if they would be a good fit for us to deliver our baby. I had an appointment with one of the doctors and was able to sit down with her and chat before going any further. I had a whole list of questions to ask to help me make my decision on whether or not this would be the right place for me.
About five minutes into the conversation I asked her if she thought I would be able to have a natural vaginal delivery. She then asks me if any women in my family has ever had a cesarean. I told her both my mother and sister have had one. She then looks me up and down and says,
well looking at how small your frame is and knowing that the women in your family have had a cesarean it will probably be the same for you.
I couldn’t believe what I just heard. I was expecting more support and encouragement to have my baby naturally not an automatic shut down and hopeless statement. She literally just told me to count on having a cesarean. I knew it was ridiculous and I knew I had to find somewhere else to have our baby. If I would have listened to her and stayed there I wouldn’t of had the support I needed to have the birth I desired. I knew I was well capable of delivering our child naturally. No matter my frame size I could do this! I stuck by this and kept searching for the right place.
A week later I found Midwives that were in our area at a hospital not too far from us. At my first appointment I felt right at home. The encouragement and support I got right from the start was unbelievable. I felt more empowered just by being around the midwives and hearing about how they operate and all of the support they offer. We talked about the desires I had for my delivery and how we could achieve this. From then on I knew I would always choose midwives for my prenatal care and delivery.
During that first appointment the midwives suggested we looked into getting a Doula especially for our first pregnancy. A doula is a professional trained in childbirth that assists an expecting mother and gives her guidance emotionally, physically and educates her before, during and after delivery. She helps women to have a safe, memorable empowering birth experience. We went with one of the doulas our Midwives recommended and we are so glad we did.
Our doula was so empowering and encouraging right from the start. It’s like she was in our minds because she knew exactly the type of birth we longed to have. We learned so many valuable things from her and I will share them with you today.
The Breast Crawl - Unmedicated vs Medicated
During one of our sessions with her she showed us a video that helped me to remain strong in my decision not to receive medications during labor. There was a study done on newborns about the breast crawl. When a baby is placed on his mother’s abdomen, he is able to push himself upward towards mommy using his arms and legs. They usually do this in a pattern and tend to take rest breaks along the way. The baby will work his way up to mommy’s breast and begin suckling. Some babies may even gaze into their mommy’s eyes or even reach for her face. This was just so amazing for us to learn, we had no idea babies could do this right after they were born. This reflex only lasts for a few weeks and won’t resurface until a few months later.
In the video they show a baby with an uninterrupted contact (meaning right after birth he was given right to his mommy for first contact) and an unmedicated labor. This baby was placed naked on his mother’s abdomen for 1 hour. After 20 minutes this baby crawled to his mother’s breast and after 50 minutes he was suckling. The next baby they show was medicated during labor and had an interrupted contact with mommy for cleaning and measurements. This baby had no sense of direction and never self attached. The babies that were not medicated but had an interruption from mommy had a poor suckle in half the cases.
I don’t know if it was the hormones racing or what but when I first saw this video at 25 weeks pregnant I cried. I was just so saddened by watching the medicated baby have no sense of direction or the ability to crawl to his mommy’s breast. He wasn’t as alert or active as the non medicated baby. He was kind of just laying there out of it. I wanted to see my baby as active as the first case. I kept telling myself “If I’m drugged my baby will be drugged. My baby is counting on me to be strong.”
The next major thing we learned was golden! We learned about the Domino Effect of Interventions during labor. Our doula expressed to us that once we start any interventions the rest will follow. If we were to take pitocin to speed up labor I would have increased pains which would push me to want the epidural. Once I take that the baby’s heart rate could drop from distress and then they would tell us they need to get the baby out ASAP so back to the operating rooms for a cesarean. Now of course this is just a possible scenario but she really wanted us to see the picture of what happens in a lot of cases. Over 80% of American women have an epidural during labor. 1 in 3 women give birth by C-section. In my opinion this is way too many and a lot of this is due to women not knowing their options and not being informed of the side effects and dangers from these interventions.
Allowing interventions during your labor can really change the course of things. One intervention will lead to another and another and usually just cause problems. They also cause adverse effects on you and your baby.
How To Avoid Interventions:
1. Create a Birthing Plan
I can’t express enough how important this is. Having a visual plan of how you want your labor to go is essential. It’s a reminder to you for what to stick by and a visual plan for all of those involved in your labor to follow. You can go online and look at sample birthing plans and templates. Type it up and make two copies, one for you to keep with you and one to give to your midwife/doctor.
Two important things that I include on my plan that help me not give into meds is intermittent monitoring and laboring in the positions I choose. If you are constantly laying on your back hooked up to a monitor you will not be comfortable and you will not be able to move freely as you need to. Continuous fetal monitoring has a high false positive rate and often says a baby is in danger when the baby is doing just fine.
When I first arrive they hook me to a monitor to check baby’s heart rate and my contractions. The picture above was during my first labor. After they get the information they need they unhook me and I am left to labor as I wish. Ever so often a nurse will come in and hook me back up to the monitor but it is not a constant thing. When you are able to move freely and switch labor positions as often as you need to, it’s more comfortable and easier to manage pain.
2. Study the 3 Stages of Labor
Before my first delivery I studied the three stages of labor. I wanted to get familiar with them so I would know what stage I was in and what to expect. For all five of my labors I knew exactly what stage I was in and I literally felt the change in my body as it took place. I knew when it was time to push because I felt the urge to. Not once did my midwives have to tell me when to start pushing, I told them when it was time for me to start pushing. This is only possible when you are not numbed from the waist down and are able to feel what your body needs to do. I even knew when to switch birthing positions to help the process go smoother. Your body tells you what to do, you work with your baby and together as a team delivery happens. Get to know these stages and be aware of what to expect before it’s time to deliver your baby.
3. Learn the Birthing Positions that Facilitate the Normal Natural Process of Labor
Learning these helpful birthing positions can make a huge difference in your labor. When our bodies are upright gravity works with us and helps to bring the baby downward. I try to keep my body this way to shorten my labor time. You’ll have to work a lot harder if you are laying on your back or side. One of my favorite things to do is to walk around the hospital hallways rolling an empty wheelchair. Walking is good movement for labor and I can lean on the wheelchair chair to assist me while I’m having a contraction.
If you want to get your spouse involved here is a good partner position that our doula taught us. You stand in front of your husband with your arms around his neck. Put your head down, bend your knees and began to move your hips slowly from side to side as you focus on breathing and getting through each contraction. He can help hold you up and support your back which eases the pain.
4. Use Essential Oils
For those of you that are familiar with essential oils you know how soothing and relaxing they can be. They are even more amazing when aiding you during labor. Just to give you some examples this is what I use for uterine discomfort and support during contractions. In my room I have a heated crockpot filled with hot purified water and a dozen fresh cloths. You want to make sure the water is hot but not too hot to handle. Place 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil into the water. Assign someone to keep a steady flow of warm, wrung out wash cloths to place across your belly during contractions. As soon as it cools replace it with another one. Of course this all depends on the position you are laboring in at the time. Trust me, you’ll want to get these across your belly from time to time because it really helps ease the pain and relaxes you.
Another example for use of essential oils is a way to speed up labor naturally. Clary Sage essential oil helps speed up the process. Apply it neat (undiluted) to the inside of your ankles and on your lower abdomen. You can even sniff the oil straight from the bottle or take Clary Sage capsules. You should apply this oil at the beginning of labor and during active labor.
Finally, one more tip on how to use essential oils is to help you urinate after birth. It is very hard to achieve this after delivering vaginally. After my first delivery it took me four tries before I could actually urinate. After I found this technique it didn’t take as long. You’ll want to take the peppermint essential oil bottle and hold it right below your urethra. The fumes of the oil will help kickstart the reaction. You also want to drop a few drops into the toilet. This might take a few minutes but it works, relief is on it’s way. Stay tuned for my post that specifically deals with how to use essential oils in labor. You’d be amazed how much relief you can get from these volatile liquids. I ONLY recommend pure therapeutic grade essential oils.
5. Perineal Massage
You might not hear about this technique from your doctor. It is well known in midwifery practices. Whether you decide to have an intervention free birth or not you can still prevent tears and getting an episiotomy my doing a perineal massage in your third trimester. I usually start a month before my delivery date and do this at least four times a week for up to five minutes. This helps the perineum to stretch more and increases it’s flexibility to prepare for labor and decrease the chances for perineal trauma during delivery. This also helps to ease the “burn” you feel during the crowning of baby’s head and will allow this process to go smoother. When doing a perineal massage you want to use a non-toxic oil such as olive oil, almond oil or coconut oil. You can do this massage on your own or have your spouse do it for you. Here is a link that explains step by step how to do a perineal massage.
6. Birthing Pool/Tub for Relief
Some hospitals offer a Birthing Suite where the rooms are large, there is extra seating for your family and a birthing tub. During my first delivery I started to question myself and wonder if I could go all the way naturally. You’ve probably heard this saying
when it feels like you can’t go any more and you are on the verge of giving up, it is usually almost over.
This is so true. This is the point when some women give up and give in to meds when they feel they can’t take it any more. Usually this means you will be meeting your baby really soon and the hard work is almost over. I was dilated to 6 cm and I was exhausted and looking for relief. My midwife offered to start up the birthing tub and I accepted. The water was so warm and soothing and the massage bubbles were so relaxing that it eased my contractions and started to slow them down. I never wanted to get out of that tub. What I really wanted was to deliver in the tub but it was against hospital policy. I was secretly hoping the baby would come so quick while I was in there that there wouldn’t be a choice but to deliver in there. Well after being in there for 20 minutes my contractions became so far apart. It really was a nice relief and a well needed break. My midwife told me I needed to get out so my contractions would pick back up and I could finally meet my baby. Once I was out it didn’t take long for things to pick back up and before I knew it I was pushing my baby out.
I recommend this temporary relief especially for first time mothers. It helped me to take a nice break and I was able to regain the energy I needed for the rest of my delivery.
I hope my experiences and the techniques I have learned help empower you to have the type of birth you desire. You do have choices and it is very possible to have a non-medicated experience. Choose a facility that supports the type of birth you want. If you settle for a hospital like the first one I tried, it will be so much harder achieving this. It makes a world of a difference when your goals and desires are supported. If at all possible find Midwives that are trained in natural child labor along with a doula for added support and education.
Research the type of interventions that are given during labor and their effects so you’ll know what to avoid. Get the tools you need to aide you in natural labor way in advanced so you will have them on hand. Have a support system present with you that consists of people you trust to keep you accountable and help keep you strong when you want to give in to unsafe alternatives.
Writing this post helps serve as a reminder to myself. I have been so blessed to have experienced a natural vaginal birth five times!
Being able to experience the type of births I have always desired makes me passionately want to help other women achieve the same. I can’t say enough that you are well capable for this job, your body was made for it. Don’t put yourself in a position to have a longer and more painful recovery than you need to. Using some of those interventions such as an epidural may help shave some of the pains at that moment, but you will definitely feel pains later on after it all wears off and you will have a harder time recovering than you normally would have without them. Every chemical/medication that enters your body will go straight to your baby. If you want to have a healthy, active and strongly alert baby, please opt out of interventions and let your body tell you what to do. Don’t rush or force things that aren’t ready to happen. Try to labor as much as you can at home where you’re comfortable before going into your birthing facility.
Thank you so much for reading! Stay tuned if you would like to know techniques for coping during labor and which essential oils to use for specific situations during and after labor. Many Blessings to you all~ ❤️