Motherhood, Pregnancy

Secrets for Having a Natural Birth – Even if You Don’t Have a High Pain Tolerance!

Tips for having an unmedicated labor from a mom who's done it twice!

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Whenever I tell people that I had both of my babies at home, the response is usually something like, “Wow! That’s amazing! I could never do that.”  I’m not gonna lie, it makes me feel good to hear.  But I always want to tell them that I’m really not that amazing for having a natural birth.  I don’t believe that it made me some kind of super mom.  I also don’t have a high pain tolerance, so it’s not like I’m just really tough.

The truth is, I couldn’t imagine having a baby in a hospital or with pain medication.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with having an epidural if you need it.  I believe that all women deal with labor in different ways and you have to do what works for you!  I’m not any better than a woman who chooses to have an epidural.  Having a baby is hard work no matter how you do it!

The reason I couldn’t imagine going the more “traditional” route with my birth is because having my babies at home gave me so much more freedom.  I could birth in a way that worked for me.  I didn’t have to be hooked up to machines or give birth in a position that wasn’t comfortable for me.  Because I was at home, I was also able to move around as much as I wanted and eat and drink whatever I wanted.  During my second labor, I actually had my husband order pizza for me because I was starving and it sounded so good!  No one told me what I had to do, and so I was able to work through labor in the most comfortable way for me.  It wasn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to birth.

The experience I had was amazing.  I was so comfortable and it was just a really peaceful and relaxed way to bring my child into the world.  Honestly, I feel like I had it so much easier than most women.  I didn’t even feel like I needed pain medication.

Now, not everyone is able to have a home birth like I did – or even wants to have one.  And that’s completely okay!  But if you would like to try for a drug-free birth, in or out of a hospital, I have some tips for making that happen!

Preparing myself for a natural birth was key

A lot of women think that they would never be able to have a natural birth.  But it’s completely possible.  I did it!  And it’s not because I’m just really tough or can handle a lot of pain.  It’s because I was prepared.  If you really want to try for a birth without any pain medication, you’ve got to prepare yourself for that!

Childbirth classes are invaluable

Taking a birth class is a really great way to get ready for labor.  There are a lot of different methods, so do your research to figure out what method sounds like the best fit for you and your spouse.  My husband and I took Lamaze classes and I loved it!  In these classes, you’ll learn about what your body will go through during labor and what you can expect.  You’ll also learn ways to handle labor and work through your contractions.  In many of the classes, your spouse will learn how to support you as well.  You’ll both gain valuable tools to use during the birth, even if you do decide to get an epidural!

Perspective is everything

I’m a firm believer that your perspective is extremely important.  Throughout my whole pregnancy I focused on shaping how I viewed labor and birth.  Instead of thinking about the pain or what could go wrong, I chose to think of birth differently than most people probably do.  Most people talk about labor in a very negative way.  Yes, it can be painful, but that pain doesn’t last forever and it’s a pain with purpose.  I watched a lot of peaceful births on YouTube during my pregnancy, and I also read birth stories that focused on the beauty of the experience.  It’s so important to view birth positively if you want a positive experience.

Books I recommend

Preparing for what’s going to happen when you go into labor and give birth will help you mentally deal with the pain.  Even if you don’t take a class, there are so many really great books and resources to get you ready for birth.  For me, labor was mostly mind over matter.  So preparing your mind to deal with labor is so important.  I really liked this book when I was pregnant with my daughter.  Although I didn’t follow the method to a T, I used a lot of the techniques discussed in the book.  I’ve also heard AMAZING things about this course, and I will definitely be getting it for my next pregnancy!  The births that women talk about having with this method are incredible!

I also just want to mention that if you plan on breastfeeding, this book was a lifesaver for me, and one that I referred to several times after my first baby was born!

Tips for having a natural birth from a mom who's done it twice!

The tools I used during labor

There were several things I used during labor to make me more comfortable.  Some things helped take my mind off the contractions, while others helped to get baby in a good position and cut down on the length of my labor.

  • The right mindset.  

    This was the most important tool for me during my labor.  The biggest challenge of labor for me was mental.  I had to focus my energy on staying calm and letting my body do the work instead of tensing up or fighting my contractions.  I also tried to keep in mind that the contractions were a good thing.  They were what was getting my baby out so I could meet her!  I didn’t let myself think, “oh no, here’s another one!”  Instead, I tried to stay as positive as I possibly could.  I made an effort to not even think of the contractions as pain.  It may sound crazy, but the way you think about your labor can make all the difference in your pain level.

  • I had a rhythm.  

    After several contractions, I started to have a certain method of coping with them.  Once I felt one coming on I would start to breathe deeply and evenly.  Every woman has a different way to deal with their contractions, so you have to figure out the breathing pattern, sounds, or movements that work for you and keep doing that.  When you’re focusing on your rhythm, you won’t be thinking about the pain.  You’ll also stay more relaxed which will help your labor progress more smoothly.

  • A birthing ball.  

    For most of my labor I bounced on a big exercise ball.  This helped so much with the contractions and also with the position of the baby.  Positioning is really important in labor.  If your baby isn’t in a good position it could make labor last a lot longer and make it way more painful.

  • Music.  

    Listening to music that made me feel calm and relaxed took my mind almost completely off the contractions.  I had a playlist of worship music that I listened to.  Listening to that music made me focus more on praising God and thanking him for my baby and I didn’t think so much about the pain.

  • Focus on relaxing.  

    During my second labor I really focused on keeping my hands open and my jaw relaxed during my contractions.  If you’re tensing up these parts of your body then you’re going to be tensing other parts of your body too.  And when you have tension, labor is going to hurt so much more.

  • Move as much as possible.  

    Moving is very important when you’re in labor.  I tried to get up and walk around as much as possible.  Swaying felt really nice too, and it helped get the baby in a good position.  Like I mentioned before, I was also on my birthing ball a lot.  It was so comfortable to be able to roll the ball side to side or in circles or just bounce.  Contractions weren’t bad at all when I was sitting there.

  • Birth affirmations.  

    Some of my favorites are “you can do anything for one minute,” “this will not last forever,” and “it’s not pain, it’s progress.”  Saying or reading Bible verses and birth affirmations helped a ton.

It is completely possible to have an amazing natural birth experience, and it’s not selfish of you to want one.  A birth without any drugs or interventions is extremely beneficial for both mom and baby.  I’m so thankful I was able to have my babies at home.  However, if you need any interventions, it doesn’t mean that you “failed” at all!  I’m so glad that women are able to birth the way that works best for them (whether that’s with pain medication or without!) and that doctors have the resources to step in when things don’t go as planned.

Are you planning to have a natural birth or have you already had one?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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14 Comments

  1. Andrea

    This is more than great advice! Absolutely fantastic! I´m sharing this to my friends who dread a c-section (apparently it´s ¨in¨ because that´s what most doctors recommend even though if you don´t need it…dreadful, I know). This post will help my expecting friends a ton! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Bethany

      I’m so glad you found it helpful, Andrea!

  2. This is great! My last child was natural and it was such an amazing experience! Alot of prep and reading helped!

    1. Bethany

      It’s amazing how much preparing can help! 🙂

  3. These are great tips! I so wanted to try and have a natural birth but ended having to be induced because of preeclampsia and my midwife strongly advised me to get an epidural to help keep my blood pressure under control! Maybe my next baby I can try natural!

    1. Bethany

      I’m so glad you’re okay! I’ve had friends who had preeclampsia and it can be a scary thing. Epidurals are definitely useful in those kinds of situations!

  4. Jen

    As a labor and delivery nurse, I am always amazed at the strength some women have to carry out an unmedicated, natural birth. You present a lot of good tips here for those interested in going that route. That being said, giving birth – whether natural, medicated, with an epidural or via c-section – is a miracle in itself and should be celebrated equally. What matters most is that you got your child here healthy and that you remained healthy in the process.

    1. Bethany

      Absolutely! Birth is a complete miracle no matter how it happens. 🙂

  5. Eyn

    I completely agree! I had my first born at a hospital without an epidural, but still felt confined and restrained and uncomfortable! My daughter was a home water birth and such an amazing experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and would totally go that rout again! 💜

    1. Bethany

      I had my first baby in the water, but my second was born in bed (he was in a weird position coming out, and needed a little help from the midwife, so it was easier “on land”). It’s amazing how much the water helps with pain and being able to move more freely. I definitely preferred a water birth more!

  6. These are awesome tips! I had both babies in hospital naturally. Maybe it’s because I used to work as a nurse, but I felt safer there. Absolutely every mama should do what feels right to her. We also have a midwife-based system here in New Zealand which is generally geared more towards natural deliveries. So, I think that helps a lot. 🙂

    1. Bethany

      That’s so great that you were in a place you felt safest! I know a lot of women feel more comfortable in a hospital setting when they give birth. It’s so important to give birth the way that works best for you! 🙂

  7. I did give birth in a hospital all four times, but I also have never had an epidural. I also find that moving around is KEY! It makes all the difference in the world. With my first I was at a hospital where they basically confined me to the bed the whole time, it was awful. I was maxed out on Pitocin and in labor for 19 hours. With my other though it went a lot better, I was at hospitals where they were a lot more willing to let me labor my way.

    1. Bethany

      Moving really is so helpful! That’s awesome that you were able to labor your way. Unfortunately at the hospital where I live they are very one-size-fits-all when it comes to birth. I wish it was more like the hospitals you were at! They are very forceful when it comes to interventions and the c-section rate is through the roof here!

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