In this day of abundant epidurals, spinal blocks, IV-administered narcotics, and other medications for labor pain, what does it take to have a baby the old-fashioned way — without any drug intervention? Is it even possible to have an unmedicated childbirth?
Yes, say many moms who have shared their labor and delivery experiences in Circle of Moms communities.
After all, women have been doing this for centuries, right?
“Don’t be afraid of labor. Your body is programmed to do it, as women's bodies have been programmed to do for thousands of years. Really, the epidural and pain meds are a very new addition to our world,” writes Nicole G. in the Young Moms Aged 20-30 Community.
“Women have been giving birth unmedicated (even sometimes unassisted) for hundreds of thousands of years,” posts Kayleigh L.
“You can do this, and you were made to do this,” encourages Chelsea W., who endured a 28-hour delivery to bring her son into the world.
The verbal cheer-leading is all fine and dandy, but when you’re in the middle of the game, you’ve got to know how to run the plays.
1. Choose a Birthing Center Over a Hospital
Many Circle of Moms members who've accomplished this uniquely feminine task without medicinal help suggest choosing a birthing location where drugs won’t be available.
“If you go into labor thinking that drugs are an option, you're more likely to give in,” writes Rachel A. “That's exactly why I chose a midwife/birthing center over a doctor/hospital. I knew that drugs would not be an option so I wouldn't be able to cave in.”
2. Learn About Childbirth, and Rehearse
For others, preparation is what kept them from using medications to ease the pain of child birth.
Sarah H. used visualization and relaxation techniques: “What I did is about one to two months before I was due, every night before I would go to sleep, I would lay in bed and imagine the pain (imagine the worst cramps you have ever felt)." She then would practice relaxing her body to get through the pain.
“Natural childbirth is not easy!” states Chelsea W. “If it's what you really want, you need to do your research and start preparing. You have to have a very strong mindset.”
Just like any other aspect of parenting, some education on the subject is helpful, say other moms.
Jodi A. shares that she was in "an absolute panic" while pregnant because she knew so little about labor. “Take Lamaze classes for one. Read everything you can on the Internet, in books, wherever, on what your body goes through during labor. Read about all the stages of labor, what's happening in each stage, what contractions do to you and your baby...After you know the stages of labor and what happens, look up relaxation techniques, breathing methods, the use of tubs, walking the baby down, dancing the baby down, and different positions for labor.”
3. Sit, Stand, and Move Around
Those different positions might include something in the bathroom you wouldn’t normally associate with having a baby: the toilet.
“I sat on the toilet a lot. Sounds weird but it's the position that you’re in while sitting on it that helps with the pain. At least it did for me,” advises Emily C.
Getting out of the bed is another piece of advice from women who’ve accomplished natural child birth.
“If you can stand during labor and the contractions, do it. I found it helped me so much compared to lying down and the gravity helps to progress things along. I also found that stamping my feet throughout a contraction helped. I don’t know that it actually took the pain away but it gave me something else to focus on, shares Elysia E.
“If you have an epidural, you can’t move around. You are stuck in a bed which is not the natural or productive way to birth. Moving around and getting into different positions to ease your contractions,” states Jessie R.
4. Relax in a Tub Full of Hot Water
It also might help to get yourself into some hot water. No, not the kind of hot water you might find yourself in for cussing at your husband or nearly breaking his arm during a contraction. Rather, literally, get your birthing body into some hot water for relaxation purposes.
“When I went into labor, the midwives filled up the tub and I jumped in. It seriously cut the pain in half. I did not want to get out at all,” shares Rachel A. “The water just turned out to be such a great form or pain relief that I couldn't force myself to get out of the tub.”
“I found the thing that helped the most was sitting in a hot bath and just relaxing between contractions,” writes Sara T.
5. Tune in to Your Body
Listening to and obeying cues from your body about what it is going through is what gave Naomi R. the ability to naturally deliver her child.
“Labor is definitely painful, but I felt so connected with, and in tune with my labor without being all "doped" up on pain meds. The pain immediately went away after I had my baby boy,” she shares.
Other moms say recognizing the purpose of the pain provides the right mindset for having a baby without any pain medication.
6. Be Fearless
Ask yourself, “Why are you afraid of pain that is happening for a purpose, you won't die from it. It has a beginning and an end, and it's happening because it's supposed to happen,” writes Chelsea W.
“Your body was designed to give birth, so if you're able to relax and allow your body to work as nature intended, then you'll be able to do it. But, if you go in with fear, or anxiety you'll have a much harder time,” advises Rebekah G.
Remember, too, that achieving an unmedicated natural child birth is incredibly empowering. Describing the mindset that got her through labor without drugs, Kayla J. shares, “I kept thinking to myself the whole time (that) once I get though this natural[ly], I can get though anything."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.