Have you considered declining the epidural when you give birth? Did you even know it was an option? Deciding to experience the process of childbirth in a raw and medication free state can be a challenging, yet liberating experience. As a midwife, I strongly believe that not only do I witness the births of babies but mothers too. Trusting your body and allowing it to work how it was intended to will empower you in ways unimaginable. Society does not want women to realize their strength, which is why the thought of birthing naturally is often a taboo, especially in the black community. No, you do not need to birth at home with a spirit guide to achieve this (though there’s nothing wrong if you do). You simply need three foundational components to support your dream of providing your newborn with a safe journey uninterrupted by interventions: a strong team, committed plan, and plenty of practice.
Choose Your Team
Yes, you have a choice when it comes to picking your OB provider. If you are healthy and anticipating a low risk delivery, consider choosing a midwife. Physicians and midwives are simply trained differently and therefore, specialize in two different areas. It is the physician’s role to manage complicated pregnancies. A midwife, however, specializes in supporting the natural process of birth. Now of course there are physicians who practice with few interventions. All that matters is that you choose a provider who has experience with managing births that require very little intervention. Sometimes a provider will automatically intervene simply because that is how they are used to practicing. You are free to choose a provider who is comfortable allowing labor to happen on its own.
Another important team member is a doula. Although a doula does not provide medical care, she/he plays a crucial role in coaching you through the labor process by providing emotional support, encouraging words, advocacy, and massage. Studies have shown that having a doula greatly reduces epidural use and even C-sections. The midwife may not be available throughout the entire labor process (especially in large practices), so the doula is able to provide one-on-one support the entire time. This individualized support is necessary to get you through times when doubt arises. When you are unable to articulate your desires due to pain, your doula can speak up for you and ensure your plan stays in place as long as baby is healthy.
Choosing the right team for your labor is the first step because without support, you may sway during the journey of childbirth.
Make a Plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It is not enough to simply say you do not want an epidural. The pain of childbirth is real and intense! If you do not prepare and identify coping mechanisms, you will automatically default to your only option in the moment: the epidural. Learning how to breathe through contractions is vital, and I highly recommend the method of hypnobirthing. Of course, everyone is different, but I have witnessed hypnobirthing calm a laboring woman in ways I rarely see with other methods. Hypnobirthing focuses on self-hypnosis or meditation and can help you breathe through each contraction. There are often classes in your community and free information is always readily available on YouTube. You can also consider a water birth, which is safe for low risk women and available in some hospitals if you do not want to deliver at home. The same way warm baths are used to ease muscle aches or relax mentally, they can be used during labor to relieve contractions. If this option is available in your area, I encourage you to look into it.
Once you have your plan in place, ensure that you have all of your equipment that will help you. Yoga balls are great for facilitating movement and the use of gravity as you can bounce or sway on the ball. I also encourage you to walk during labor and try different positions, such as squatting or hands and knees. Gravity works and movement helps the baby rotate and navigate through the birth canal. An essential oil diffuser can also aid in mental relaxation, especially lavender. Meditative music or any music that motivates you can be a great addition to your labor room.
Once you select your team and come up with a plan, don’t forget step 3.
You wouldn’t just go out and run a marathon without ever running in your life, would you? Think of labor in the same way. It can take hours or even days to complete labor, and the thought of quitting can develop if you do not prepare. A great method for practicing is trying out your techniques while holding ice cubes in your hand. By doing this, you are training your mind to cope with pain while strengthening the effectiveness of your desired technique. You can also practice visualization while focusing on what you see, hear, smell and saying your observations out loud. This tricks your mind into zoning in on something other than labor pains. By preparing, you will feel empowered and ready to tackle birth.
Remember, your body knows what to do and has the ability to give birth! Women have literally been giving birth since the beginning of time and there is no need to fear or distrust the labor process. If you desire to have a labor free of interventions and medicine, you can do it. However, remain flexible and go with a provider who you trust. The goal is always to have a healthy baby and healthy mom, so if your provider does suggest an intervention, you want to feel confident that its only because it is absolutely necessary.
Please feel free to leave any questions for me, as I would be happy to answer!
xoxo, Global Midwife