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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!
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.
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.
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!