After posting that I had my second natural delivery despite being medically induced for Oligohygramnios (low amniotic fluid) I had a flood of questions come in about unmedicated birth. Hopefully I included all of your questions below! If I missed something, feel free to comment on this post.
Benefits of going unmedicated, what is the delivery like? Some benefits of natural childbirth include less interventions (many of which have side effects), initiating breast-feeding more easily, a higher release of natural endorphins post delivery (making recovery easier), and labor is often shorter. You can read about the pros and cons to an epidural in this post with all of the evidence-based references included.
As far as what the delivery is like- I’ll be posting my full birth story this week. My first delivery (also unmedicated) was super fast and honestly just kind of a whirlwind. But as soon as my son was born any pain that I had felt was immediately gone (and I even had to get stitches from an episiotomy!). He did amazing throughout the whole delivery process and had no problems after. He was also able to breastfeed right away and was always a great eater! With this delivery I had prepared so much better and I felt incredibly connected to my body and my baby throughout the whole delivery. My induction was longer than my first labor and if I hadn’t prepared I probably would’ve given up. My daughter also did amazing throughout the delivery (I didn’t need oxygen despite having contractions every 2-2.5 minutes apart on the full dose of pitocin) and she had no issues after delivery. *Often when contractions come close together the mom doesn’t have enough time to recover and less oxygen gets to the baby; resulting in fetal heart decelerations, I think this was avoided with my delivery because I was able to remain in control of my breath and not let fear take over. She also took to breastfeeding right away and is still a great eater!
How were you able to manage the pain with Pitocin? I prepared for this delivery using my Mindful Childbirth Course. This course is based off of the Mongan Method but also includes additional relaxation and breathing techniques and brings in the medical basis behind natural delivery. We also focus more on natural delivery in the hospital setting. Watch the video description of this course to learn more!
Would you ever choose to get an epidural? With both of my labors I went in with an open mind. An open mind is key with any type of delivery because really we aren’t totally in control of what our bodies will do during birth! I had to be really open minded with this delivery. Not knowing how my body would react to a pitocin induction, I told myself it was ok if I decided to get an epidural. It’s not that I am “against” medication- I just prefer the benefits to unmedicated delivery and have now had two VERY positive experiences with natural birth. When I’ve asked those who’ve experienced both what they would prefer, it’s really interesting to me that most would pick their unmedicated deliveries. I have nothing else to compare it to!
Does it speed up the process if you don’t have an epidural? It can! But it all depends on the woman. I explain this in my post here on epidural pros and cons.
What do you pack for the hospital? You can find what I have packed for the hospital in this post.
What did you do to prepare leading up to the birth? Like I’ve mentioned, I used the Mindful Childbirth Course. Specifically though, I would listen to Birth Affirmations and practice breathing techniques while I took a bath or before bed. Particularly in the third trimester when I started to get really uncomfortable! I would warm up some hot chocolate and take a bath during my son’s nap or after bedtime and either listen to Birth Affirmations or practice different breathing and relaxation techniques that I liked or thought would work for me.
What are your reasons for going through with an unmedicated delivery? Is labor even enjoyable with all of the pain? The first time I ever thought about an unmedicated delivery was during nursing school. I remember vividly learning the side effects of an epidural and then once I saw one being placed during my clinicals I decided I wanted to try to avoid it. I worked in the nursery as a transition nurse for two years and attended hundreds of births; my main responsibility was taking care of the baby after delivery. During that time I noticed a trend. The babies that were born to mothers who had gone unmedicated almost ALWAYS did incredible after delivery- their vital signs were stable, and they breastfed well. That’s not to say that every baby who was “sick” or struggled for a bit after delivery were all due to epidural side effects. Most babies still did well even if their mother got an epidural! What I’m saying is that every medical intervention has a side effect or consequence.
Labor was still SO enjoyable despite the “pain”. I honestly think the pain was welcomed because I knew I was having good contractions and it was helping bring my baby here! I’ll post my full birth story this week that will describe my experience. My induction started at 1:00 pm and my baby was born at 8:40 pm. The first few hours were spent walking the halls, and bouncing on the birthing ball while watching This Is Us with my Mom! I would say that was definitely enjoyable haha. Things got really intense for me around 5 pm and thats when I pulled out all of my preparation and just needed to focus. It was amazing to actually feel where my baby was at and feel her moving down. I felt so connected to her!
Was getting induced harder when it comes to going natural? I think the hardest thing about the induction was that my labor lasted longer than my first. I had assumed that I would have a quicker labor with my second. I felt really in control though; I just had to be mindful of the negative thoughts that would come into my mind and turn them around! For example there were lots of times where I would think; “this is so hard, I can’t do this” or “this really hurts!” But as soon as I would direct my thoughts elsewhere or change my thoughts to things like, “just one more contraction, you can do this, you’ve done this before, it’s almost time to meet your baby girl!” I would find that I’d be able to make it through the contraction and then fully enjoy my “rest” before the next contraction.
What pain management methods did you use? I used the techniques taught in my Mindful Childbirth Course. I teach a wide range of techniques but what works best for me is meditation and using breathing techniques during contractions. I’ve also learned that I don’t really like to be touched during labor (my sweet husband kept offering to tickle my back or give me a massage which I would normally LOVE but I just have to focus). Counter pressure on my back helped a ton with this delivery since I was feeling a lot of my contractions there.
Did you tear or have an episiotomy? Unfortunately I did tear. My OB said my tear was right along where my episiotomy scar tissue was apparently is pretty common.
I’m having my first baby, what class would you recommend? This is a tough question! I would definitely recommend the Newborn Course. This course doesn’t teach you exactly how to care for a newborn, but focuses on those first few hours and days after delivery. We discuss hospital policies, what to expect when it comes to interventions with your baby, your options, etc. This class offers audio, visual, and text information. We have live videos on a newborn bath, newborn assessment, and how to do CPR/ address choking. As far as a childbirth course goes I am torn which is why we offer all three in a bundle at a HUGE discount. The Childbirth Course is more of your standard class whereas the Mindful Childbirth Course is more focused on breathing and relaxation techniques during labor. Watch the video descriptions on these courses to help you get a better idea of what’s included.
Thanks for your questions! As always, feel free to add any additional questions in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them.
Stefani Murdock, RN, BSN, CCE