Below are 10 tips I came up with after experiencing my drug-free childbirth. (Tip #5 was the most useful for me!) Every woman will adjust to what works for her during that beautiful moment but this is what personally worked for me. I would love to read more tips or any questions in the comments below!
1. Focus on your goal.
If your goal is to have a drug-free birth, keep it your goal. Many will laugh at you or try to discourage you but try your very best not to allow those comments to get to you. If you say I want a drug-free birth but … if it hurts too much I will get an epidural, more than likely you will get an epidural. If you are sure you want to take this route, don’t even have an epidural in mind as an option.
You must truly believe in yourself and say to yourself and others I am going to have a drug-free birth, no buts. Of course, if a medical emergency or necessity occurs in the moment you will take that other route but if a drug-free birth is your first choice, be confident about it.
2. Practice positive affirmations during your pregnancy.
Practicing positive thinking and empowering yourself weeks before labor is SUPER important. Giving birth is a mental game. If I did not prepare ahead of time, did not practice positive affirmations before and during labor I honestly think I would have felt pain. I promise I did not feel any pain throughout any contractions or push. If your mind is worried and scared, your body will be stressed. It is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are afraid or expect pain, that expectation may affect your behavior, then the expectation is realized. I say all of that to say your mind is very powerful and practicing positive statements beforehand and during labor while breathing slowly to get through every minute of the entire process will help tremendously.
My favorite affirmations are: “I am okay, my baby is okay, so everything is okay” and “my body is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. Repeat them either aloud or in your head over and over again.
3. Try to stay home as long as you can.
If you do most of your labor at home, you will less likely be tempted to use drugs or even have them in mind since there aren’t any available to you at home. Most of my labor was in my bathtub and I checked into the hospital at 7cm dilated! You will not know how far along you are but I followed the recommendation my doctor gave me as to when I should leave to the hospital and that worked out for me. Be sure to ask your doctor what is best!
4. Use anything that relaxes you.
Whether I was going through morning sickness or even before my pregnancy if I had a bad stomachache, water always made me feel better and relaxed. Use whatever relaxes you to your advantage. That could be dimmed lights, candles, scents, or music. Use things that keep you at ease, slows your heart rate down, and puts you in a positive state of mind.
5. Use an eye mask.
This may be the most useful tip. I used an eye mask once I entered my delivery room throughout my contractions to focus on my breathing and positive affirmations. A hospital environment can be very distracting with machines, beeping, and lots of talking that blocking your vision can really help you concentrate on your contractions only. Block out the rest of the world by using an eye mask, and focus on you and your baby.
6. Rest, rest, rest between contractions.
Remember you get breaks. You are not going to have nonstop contractions for hours until your baby is here. Contractions are like hills; you feel them, by the second or third breath it’s at its “worst/peak” and once you take another breath it is done. Take advantage of those breaks and have some water, lay down and rest, whatever you want. Conserve all the energy you can so you can push later.
7. Pay attention only on the contraction you are having.
A mistake that is easily made is paying attention to time. Do not think of how long has it been since labor started. If you are in the hospital, do not focus on how dilated you are. You can even tell your staff when they check not to tell you how far along you are. Place your attention on the contraction you are currently having, getting through it and that is it. Do not worry about how many more hours of contractions you have left and how long has it been. It is useless to put your energy into those things when you can instead focus on the present. Take it one contraction at a time.
8. Try different positions.
Do not be afraid to try multiple positions. Don’t think you look silly moving your hips back and forth or squatting all the way down and up. Move around and see what works best for you in the moment. If you need someone else for support, ask. If you want a ball to bounce on, ask. Remember this is your delivery, you are in control.
9. Have a supportive partner.
You need someone who believes in you and your birth plan. Your partner, whether that is a parent, friend, or life partner needs to be your advocate. They should be familiar with your birth plan, and understand the choices you made in creating that birth plan. This is useful because in case you are not able to talk, your partner can speak for you. It is also great to have a reminder from someone else why you chose a drug-free path in case you find yourself in doubt or leaning to get an epidural.
Partners are also useful for back rubs which are incredible during labor! Applying pressure to your lower middle back will alleviate pressure and feel refreshing. The more pressure applied, the better!
10. Be free, let go.
Do not care about your butt sticking out of the hospital gown, do not care about your messy hair, do not care for judgments of others, do not care about what I hear most often … worried about pooping. Let go of everything. Do what makes you comfortable. You are running the show. Move as freely as you can, do not feel bad for being “bossy” or “needy.” Everyone around you are there to support you in any way they can, do not be afraid to ask questions or tell them what to do to make you feel more comfortable.
I know this may seem scary but I promise you the second my baby was out I thought to myself I would do this again and again. I sincerely mean that. If I could do it, you can too. Feel free to ask me any questions!