birth, birth doula, childbirth, doula, labor and delivery, medication, natural birth, ob, postpartum doula, risks, unmedicated
Are you going to have an unmedicated birth? Are you thinking about it?
These days, many women “plan to try” to have an unmedicated birth. In our birthing culture it has become something to aim for, but many women don’t care if they miss their goal. And while it is true that, in the end, having medications during birth does not make you more or less a woman, there are documented risks to having meds during your labor, both for you and the new life you are bringing into this world.
Here are some questions that you should think about as you prepare for an unmedicated birth.
1. Do I have a supportive support team?
This question may sound silly, but sometimes the people who you choose to have around you aren’t completely supportive of your desire for a natural birth. If they are telling you they will “be there to support you but they don’t think you can do it”, or they keep reminding you of your low pain tolerance you may want to reconsider having them around you at your birth. Birth is a very mental thing and you can absorb your team’s feelings. Your birth team may have its doubts, but they need to be able to put them out of their minds and focus on helping you achieve the birth you desire.
2. Do I know all of my pain relief options? What does my hospital (or midwife) offer?
Some of the better known alternative pain relief options are:
*movement walking, swaying, dancing, birth ball and position changes
*tub or birth pool
*hot and cold packs
*massage and counter pressure
There are also lesser known options that can have great results for some women. These include:
*sterile water injections
*use of a rebozo
3. Will this negatively affect me if I do not get the unmedicated birth I am preparing for?
As mentioned at the beginning of this post many women plan to try to have an unmedicated birth, but many of those don’t care if this is something they can do or not. On the other hand there are women who want with all they are to be able to say they had a natural childbirth. For these women it can be a devastating blow if their perfect birth does not happen and meds or other interventions are used. It can lead to depression and bonding issues. Preparing for a natural birth is good, but please also remember that birth is unpredictable and a medical need could arise for interventions. That said, I believe that since birth is such a mental game as well as a physical one, if you truly desire a med free birth you should make up your mind that a natural birth is going to happen unless there is a real medical need otherwise.
4. Do I need a doula? Can I afford a doula?
Not every women desires a doula but many are helped immensely by having a professionally trained birth doula with them. A doula does not try to take the place of your spouse or significant other, she is there to provide extra encouragement and support, not only to you as momma, but also to your support team. Many times your support team will find the presence of a doula comforting- she has most likely attended several births and knows the stages of labor and birth process well.
Can you afford a doula? Most doulas are willing to work something out with you, whether it is a payment plan, or a trade of services or product. There are also
some doulas willing to volunteer if you truly can’t afford their services.
Preparing for an unmedicated birth takes time and research. Know your care providers and support team. Make sure they are willing to support your birth dream whether that dream includes pain medications or not.
Megan Elford said:
This is spot on — I had 3 unmedicated births because all of us were dedicated to doing as much as we could to avoid meds (unless they became essential at some point). While medicating is unavoidable in many cases, I think women can sell themselves short when it comes to trying other ways of relieving pain. Natural childbirth is hands down, THE most empowering experience!
I’m so glad you were able to have a wonderful experience, Megan! I completely agree with you, some women do think they won’t be able to handle the pain and then later looking back wish they would have tried a little harder.
I’ve always wondered about cold/hot packs – where would they be put? The back? I had an unmedicated birth with my third child. It was quite fast and I didn’t use any of the techniques I’d read about or planned to try (except the birthing ball, which I hated)! 😛 lol
Some women really don’t like the birth ball, I found it extremely helpful in my VBAC, but I know each birth could be different. 🙂 Hot or cold packs can go anywhere, shoulders, lower back, belly, neck, forehead, etc. Anywhere mom is experiencing pain or discomfort and thinks that the heat or cold may help.
Well, I take that back – I did use visualization! The books I’d read during pregnancy helped me to know what was going on during the actual birth. 🙂
Visualization can be great! I think I was to far into labor land to even think and put myself somewhere else. 🙂