When I was growing up I would hear “horror” stories about labor and the pain associated with childbirth. I remember thinking how wonderful it was to live in a day where drugs are available to dull the pain. I bought into the whole “I’m a wimp” mentality that penetrates in our society, and I thought for sure I would gladly welcome an epidural when it came time to give birth.
Funny how things change.
My desires for a drug-free, home birth first came up when my husband and I talked about starting a family. Thankfully, he was on board. I had lots of reasons why I wanted a drug-free birth. I believe pain is our body’s way of communicating needs — something essential in the birth process. I also try to avoid unnecessary drugs whenever possible. I believe there is a time for them, but in general I think they are abused (and there is plenty of debate on their actual safety for mother and child).
If a drug-free birth is your goal it’s important to have a solid plan. Choosing a midwife instead of a doctor is one of the easiest ways to avoid unnecessary interventions. But with a solid birth-plan, firm mind, and a doctor who understands (and agrees) to your desires you can aim for a drug-free labor.
But what about the pain?
For most women, labor is not a walk in the park. But it can be an empowering experience. Deciding to go drug-free can help make the labor go smoother, make bonding easier, and avoid some of the health effects that have been associated with labor drugs.
Here are a few of the most popular approaches to dealing with pain during labor naturally:
This is a popular option for a lot people who want to go drug-free. The basic idea utilizes a form of hypnosis to take the mother into a practiced relaxed state with the hope of a “pain-free” birth. Some people are lucky enough to experience a pain-free birth, but some people feel cheated when they still have pain. As long as you go into the experience with realistic expectations, this can be a great resource to equip you with some tactics to “get past” the pain.
Prenatal yoga is becoming increasingly more popular, but not a lot of people realize that it is also a powerful tool during labor. Because breath is at the foundation of this practice it is a great way to find inner calm. There are also a lot of effective poses to help make the actual birthing process more comfortable. Unless you are already familiar with yoga it is best to find a qualified (and certified) pre-natal instructor for help.
The mind is a powerful tool. Using imagery and meditation to help calm the mind and relax the body can be a powerful resource in dealing with the pain of birth. Imagery can also be useful for preparing the body for labor.
Of course it’s important to remember that life doesn’t always go as planned. There are times when using modern medicine may be necessary. After an intense 29 hours of labor, I ended up being transferred to the hospital (if you really want to read the whole epic story, go here). Having pushed for far too many hours and being awake for two days, I ended up with an epidural, followed by my child being vacuumed out. (All thanks to a freakishly short umbilical cord. Seriously.)
Thankfully, I didn’t feel too discouraged (exhausted, yes). I knew the interventions were necessary, and I was thankful to have access to the medical help. But for the record, I could not have made it as long as I did without the help of yoga!