How I (Finally) Had A Natural Childbirth

How I (Finally) Had a Natural Childbirth {}

By Jessica Smartt, Contributing Writer

I just had my third baby, and I (finally) had a natural childbirth. Induced and with Pitocin, even. Virtual high-five, anyone??

This was not easy, but I had planned it for a long time. I had horrific experiences with my two prior births. There was the emotional disconnection and fallout of the medicated births, but I also had spinal headaches with both of my sons. Talk about starting your newborn days out wrong! A week-long migraine is NOT the way to go!

I knew going into my daughter’s birth that I wanted it to be different. Even though I have a pretty low pain tolerance (in other words, I’m a big fat wimp) I KNEW that I did not want those headaches, and I wanted to start off on a better foot. I kept telling myself, “As long as I don’t get induced and don’t have Pitocin contractions, I can do it.”

Turns out, I did have Pitocin, but I still did it without any medicine! You can read about my birth story here, but here are some specific things I helped me achieve my goal of a natural childbirth:

  • The first may seen obvious, but the number one factor was to have a clear, definite picture of WHY I wanted a natural birth. For me, as I said, it was remembering the pain of the spinal headaches! I knew that an epidural was merely a temporary fix in my pain. I kept this idea in the forefront of my head during my pregnancy and then during the actual birth. I knew why I was doing what I was doing, and that an epidural was not the easy way out.
  • My second great decision was to have a doula.  I think you could avoid this if you were very versed in pain management techniques and positioning. For me, however, this was not an area that I felt comfortable with. I wanted a doula less for emotional support and more for practical, hands-on help. She was great. I felt more comfortable just knowing that someone “wise” was in the room. If we were making a decision, we had another voice whom we trusted. She used pressure points to relieve pain and guided me through various positions which I believe greatly expedited the labor.
  • Staying in shape during pregnancy also helped. My first childbirth, I was SHOCKED at how physically demanding it was. Actual labor, you know? I guess I was a little naive. The third time, I used my favorite workout videos to practice good breathing and stay in shape, and I have no doubt that this was very helpful.
  • Measured breathing is another. I used deep yoga breathing to relax during contractions. During my former births, I was tense, and this intensified my worry and pain. When I felt a contraction coming, I purposely relaxed my entire body, and breathed very slowly.
  • Drink, and a little food. I know eating during labor is controversial, and I hoped to avoid it. I have low blood sugar and at one point the nurse smuggled me in some saltine crackers, which I was insanely grateful for. I also used Stephanie’s LaborAid, some smoothie-type drinks, and Emergen-CHow I (Finally) Had A Natural Childbirth. Because I burn so many calories, it was important for me to be proactive and have things on-hand that could give me energy.
  • On a related note, I ate a huge meal the night before. I was induced, so I had the luxury (sort of) of knowing when I would be in labor. I ate a lot (I guess you could say “carbo-loaded”) the night before.
  • Laboring in my own clothes was another big one. I had planned for my third to have a hospital birth, and when it dawned on me that I didn’t have to wear that yucky, horrible hospital robe, it was such a relief! I bought my own robe and it made me much more comfortable, and confident.
  • I also appreciated not being hooked up to the IV or having constant monitoring. I allowed them to install a port in my arm, but did not remain hooked up for a constant IV. I got on the monitor every so often to check on my daughter, but not constantly as they did with my other births. It was such a blessing to move around!
  • Finally, I am grateful for my faith. This is not a trite add-on. I cannot write this post honestly without mentioning my faith, because there was a definite moment (you can read about here) when I knew I could not do this thing on my own strength. We prayed together to ask the Lord for His strength, and He provided.

If you had a natural childbirth, what was the biggest help?

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  1. Having a natural birth on Pit makes you a superwoman, if you ask me! I have a pretty high pain threshold but was induced with my first and ended up having the epidural, although they didn’t get it in until I’d finished transition 😛 With my second I went into labor on my own, went through transition while I was doing my admissions interview and joking around with the nurse, and when the doctor came in to see how I was doing, I was completely dilated and ready to go. You could have knocked me over with a feather! There is a HUGE difference between labor pain on Pit and labor pain when your body starts things on its own. That was the biggest help for my second birth, which was a natural one. I was 9 days past my due date and it was worth every hour of waiting…unless it’s absolutely necessary (which I realize is the case sometimes) I’m never going to be induced again. I can wait!

  2. I completely agree with a lot of your points. I am a TOTAL whimp but I was set on having my first baby drug-free.

    It is so important that you are mentally prepared not to have unneccessary medical intervention (but still be open to it if you are having trouble relaxing or you/baby need medical assistance). If you go in with a “well, let’s see how it goes” attitude, you’ll likely end up taking the “easy” way which has its own drawbacks. If you are commited to it, be commited.

    Having someone who is “wise” does help. My midwife was a God-send! At one point she pushed the tops of my pelvis together to help the baby have room and boy, that felt good!

    Big ol’ check on exercise! At 28 weeks, I gradually increased my daily squats to about 150 to open my hips. I had also been doing a heavily-modified version of our usual cardio workout during the pregnancy.

    Having cheerleaders helps too. My husband was my advocate and he was! I honestly don’t know if I could have done it without my “coach” there beside me, reminding me to relax through the contractions and telling me how well I was doing and how proud he was of how I was handling things. Also when my labor got to the point where I could no longer speak well, I could point and grunt and Hubby understood what I needed (e.g. grunting and pointing at the faucet, Hubby knew immediately I needed more hot water in the tub while the midwives were baffled). It’s good to have someone who knows you well and is there for you.

    Relax! It’s sooo hard to relax when you have a tiny person being squeezed out of you, but if you do LOTS of prepwork ahead of time (Hubby and I went to the Bradley classes and learned some techniques there) then you have a head start. Oddly enough, most of the techniques we learned in class hadn’t helped me. I was in too much pain to visualize anything! I got through the contractions by inhaling and focusing on making the longest, lowest moan that I could – minute-long moo’s, really. Almost meditative. Relax, relax, relax! Tensing makes things worse. If you can, labor at home for as long as possible and while giving birth, make sure you are surrounded by things that make you comfortable – your favorite music, your own pillow, candles/aroma therapy sprays, etc.

    Read other success stories. Empowering!

    Move it! I tried so many positions in labor to help me feel better and to allow the baby to move down easier. Standing and swaying, laboring over the toilet or on an exercise ball, laying down, squatting, all good things to try to find something comfortable.

    And again, prayers. We prayed at the beginning and throughout but I had gone over 15 hours without anything other than half of a piece of toast to eat (too nauseous) and towards the end, I was tired. Very tired. I felt like I couldn’t take any more, that I had little or nothing left to give. I prayed. It was only a few words long and desperate but sincere; I asked for strength and rest so that I could continue (in my mind, at least. The words that actually came from my mouth were, “Please, please, PLEASE!”). He gave it to me. Only a minute or so later my contractions spaced and when they did come, they were MUCH lower in intensity. It gave me rest and time to refuel on applesauce and honey-water before the final push, as it were. Thank you, Lord. If you need it, ask for it.

    To the mama wanting a natural birth, whatever your reasons, good luck to you!

  3. I went drug-free with both of my girls. What helped?
    -Staying in shape while pregnant
    -Measured breathing
    -Great supportive midwives
    -My husband. He helped to keep me calm by breathing with me, which helped immensely! {After my second, the nurses were saying he was so calm, he could be a doula…haha! No way. So hilarious. }

  4. Congrats! Not an easy feet. I’m facing our third natural birth in a few weeks and am looking forward to it actually. It makes it such a joyful experience to be able to celebrate your body’s capabilities. I found that my best assets for a natural birth are…..

    Being prepared and informed- knowing what to expect from your body through the stages of labor, not just physically but emotionally as well.

    Having a TRUSTED support person. My husband was irreplaceable. He knows me best and knew just want to say and not to say and was willing to be “ordered” around. 🙂

    A practitioner and hospital etc that is open to your wishes. If they seem resistance to a birth plan, naturally related questions etc. They likely are. Don’t be afraid to change.

    Learning to relax….I practiced while I was pregnant with my husband. Trying different techniques. What I thought would relax me in labor didn’t so I’m thankful I practiced other techniques.

    Stay home as long as you can. Get through early labor and have a well established routine before you head in.

    Prayer. Listening to God. He made your body and created it to do this very thing. You ARE absolutely capable. Not to say that medicine is never right just believing that He will be your strength and help you through.

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