From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to have an unmedicated birth. Well, maybe there was more research and thought put into than that, but it was pretty close. I have friends and family who spoke about it with such amazement at their own bodies and I was determined to experience it as well. So then the reading and preparation started—and there was a lot more to it than I originally thought. In the end, I had an absolutely wonderful labor and delivery, so I wanted to share what I learned. Although I put together this advice specifically with unmedicated birth plans in mind, everything here would also be great to keep in mind for any kind of birth plan.
1. Find a Technique for Dealing with the Surges
I read Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method and I highly recommend it. One of the first things I learned was that instead of the word “contractions” with the negative connotation of pain, many people prefer to call them “surges” since they come in waves of intensity. It is a little crunchy, but it really helped me wrap my head around how I would handle the process of labor—physically and mentally. The Mongan Method includes breathing and visualization techniques to keep your mind and body calm. Although there are classes as well, I decided to just read and practice on my own. There are lots of methods out there, so choose something that makes sense to you and practice it until it becomes second nature.
2. Pick Out a Mantra (or a Few)
I read lots of mantras in my preparation, but the one I found myself repeating over and over during labor was Your body is not a lemon. You were made to do this. It helped keep me focused and confident in my body. It reminded me that women have been giving birth exactly how I was since the beginning of time, and my body was no different than theirs. Get on Pinterest and find some words that hold that power for you.
3. Understand What Happens During Birth, for Yourself and Your Baby
I had no idea babies spin on the way down until I started researching birth. There were many times during labor that I felt something concerning, a different pain in a different area, but then I realized It is just her turning. Which meant This is good. She is getting closer. I felt more in tune with my body and my baby because I knew more about what to expect.
4. Make the Room Warm, Dark, and Quiet
If you have ever had a cat who had kittens, you know the first thing they do when they go into labor is seek out a cozy spot where they feel safe and comfortable. The dark helps your mind relax, which helps your body relax.
5. Just Keep Moving
During those surges, the best thing you can do is keep moving. Look up some videos on labor movement and tuck them away in your mind. Dancing, swaying, and stretching all help with the tightening and pain.
6. Make Low Noises Instead of High Screeches
You are going to make some strange noises while feeling those surges, but try to think low. High-pitched noises are inherently stressful and they trigger your body to tense up. On the other hand, low-pitched moaning, humming, or chanting come from a loose jaw and throat, so they naturally relax your body.
7. No One Has to Tell You When to Push
I did not need any stitches after delivery, and I believe this was the one piece of advice that saved me from getting stitched up from front to back. If you push with your contractions, your baby will come out exactly when it should, and your body will stretch to allow it. Do not let anyone tell you when or how long to push. Of course, positive encouragement is just fine, but no one should be barking orders at you.
Deciding on a birth plan is a big deal, and deciding to go med-free can be intimidating. Just like any physical goal, preparation and confidence is key. It is empowering to take control of your body and understand it in a whole new way, appreciating it on an entirely new level—all you have to do is trust in it.