Natural Childbirth: 4 Tips to Achieving a Natural Delivery

Planning an unmedicated delivery? 

As you navigate the challenges and joys of pregnancy in preparation for the arrival of your little one(s), you have set your heart on going for a natural birth without an epidural. To be clear, giving birth to your baby vaginally is in fact natural, so from here on out we will refer to it as either a natural birth without an epidural or an unmedicated delivery.

Delivering without an epidural

When it comes to pain medication in delivery, we like to first discuss our options. The epidural isn't the only option for pain relief. Depending on the hospital you plan to deliver at, they may have one of the following IV pain medications: Nubain, Demerol, or Stadol, if you are lucky enough to deliver at INOVA Alexandria, you may also have the option of using Nitrous Oxide for pain relief during delivery. Some women plan to go pain medication free because they suspect that the epidural is their only option and they would rather not be immobilized for most of delivery, especially if an induction is needed.

Here are our 4 tips for delivering with out an epidural

Tip 1) Prepare for delivery with Childbirth Education. 

Even though you plan to deliver without pain medication, things happen, in this case being prepared for childbirth is optimal. Consider what it will be like to finish out your third trimester- what questions will come up? What can you expect? When will labor start? What are the signs of labor? When do I go to the hospital? When do I call my doula? What can my partner do to help me stay comfortable? What happens during the first, second, and third stages of labor? What are those stages anyways? Pushing- that's a big one... Will I poop? Will I tear? How long will I push? What happens if I need help pushing- what will they do? The list goes on and on. Do yourself a favor and take a childbirth education class that will prepare you for your delivery and early parenting.  You would be doing yourself a disservice to take  a class that only focused on an unmedicated delivery. If your class does not prepare you to navigate the changes that come, you will be left without the tools to cope with changes and how to best navigate them to reach your goals.

Tip 2) Your team is more important than you think

The team you hire to provide you with prenatal care and where they attend your birth plays a big role in your delivery. Does your chosen care provider support natural birth? Are they open to you moving during labor, getting in the shower or tub, are they open to pushing in alternative positions? Where do they stand on what is important for you to achieve your unmedicated vaginal delivery? Additionally, since you do not see much of your provider during a hospital labor, the nurses and facility play a big role in your birth. The provider steps in and out and arrives to stay during the last parts of pushing. Make good friends with your Nurses and be sure the facility you choose has good protocols for families wishing to deliver naturally.  Discuss these questions with your provider during the consultation to find what you need to know about them and their birthing facility.

Tip 3) Exercise during your pregnancy

Childbirth is no walk in the park. Yes, Hypnobirthing makes it look so easy, but it is a lot of mental and physical work. Think of the last time you ran a long race, accomplished something hard, took a class or anything that was hard and during it you wanted to quit at least once... That is what labor can be like. You have to overcome the mental battle of wanting to be done. You must remember that your body is the one laboring and your own body is not stronger than yourself. During labor, especially if you plan to deliver unmedicated, movement is your friend. Movement, while 9 months pregnant, sleep depleted, and with hard uterine contractions, is hard work. Exercising to build your stamina, muscles, and flexibility will help you achieve your unmedicated, natural delivery.

Tip 4) Labor Hacks. 

Probably the most important tips for achieving your unmedicated delivery are the tools you will gain from your Childbirth class. Movement- movement in labor is essential and the evidence and care provider support for seeing improved outcomes when women have freedom of movement in labor are compelling. Movement keeps you distracted. Movement keeps your pelvis open and helps baby move through the pelvis. Movement can speed up labor by helping it progress quickly. Always remember though, interventions are tools, and while movement is helpful, rest is essential. If you become too exhausted from expending too much energy you may end up needing pain medication in order to deliver vaginally. Water - water soothes you during contractions and keeps your muscles relaxed and supported. You can hop in the shower or tub - whichever your delivery facility has. If they do not have tubs, consider requesting that they add them. The more women that request them, the more likely they will be installed in future. Support and hands on. Supporting your partner and how to massage and coach your partner through delivery will be learned in your Childbirth Class.