So as a personal trainer, writer, nutritionist, marathoner and mother of three, I always tried to keep my life natural and steered away from medications. Even a simple headache or cold is something I prefer to ward off naturally. So when I became pregnant with my fourth baby, I already had decided I did not want to have an epidural. I had epidural in a birth and I felt so sick and out of it I swore to never do it again. During labor it was mighty intense and the thought of an epidural as a possibility passed through my mind but I knew to have a medicated birth would be much less beautiful. And I did not want to have this experience cloudy due to medication. This is all personal, but for me, I wanted to think clear and feel like myself as my 4th baby entered the world. And so I did just this and here are the sure-fire ways to get through a natural labor if you are like me and do not want an epidural. It will be tough but I promise you it will be worth it!
1. Bring on Your Own Contractions with Exercise
As I got to the hospital with my fourth labor, since I was already dilated to 4 centimeters, they broke my water. After your amniotic fluid or bag of waters is broken, contractions should naturally come on. If they do not come on then medication to speed up labor is often added. Since I wanted a natural labor I got up and walked, did jumping jacks and even jogged in place. I did whatever it takes to increase contractions and speed up labor. And this brought me from 4 and a half centimeters all the way to 10. So if your doctor allows you, get moving.
2. Say a Prayer
If you are religious, pray to a higher power for a smooth, speedy labor. Pray for a healthy baby and keep your labor prayer focused. I prayed repeatedly in my labor and I attribute this to just why I had such a beautiful birth. In fact I had rosary beads in my hand. Despite the pain of delivering my 7 pound 6 ounce baby girl, the moment I delivered her I literally felt no pain. It was amazing!
3. Watch a Positive Show
To take your mind off the contractions and a little fear that pretty soon you will be delivering a baby, watch a positive show. Maybe there is a comical movie on or just anything positive to shift your mind from the fear. Even though this was my 4th, I was fearful of the pain, I would feel. So as I jogged in place, we put on a funny show to focus on something else.
4. Have an Ice Pop
Depending on how many hours you are in labor and what they give you, in terms of fluid, you may find yourself feeling famished. I know I most certainly was and since you are not allowed to eat in labor, it was challenging. However, I asked the nurse for an ice pop and she ended up giving me several over the course of a few hours. It helped tons and I felt like it was a little treat in the midst of labor!
5. Have Your Partner Massage Your Back
Often labor pains can travel up your back and be quite painful, so have your partner give you a back massage. After all you are in this as a team, so work together. Your contractions will come on stronger and you will dilate further if you are relaxed. So have your partner help you to relax!
6. Squat Some More
Stand up and sit down for a super squat to help bring on labor further. To further progress your current state, it is ultra-helpful if you get moving. I probably did 500 squats during active labor and this helped my daughter to drop further and increase dilation. At one point squatting helped so much, I actually had to sit down because she felt so low on my bladder. Try it: it works and way better than any medication!
7. Find a Place to Focus on
At the heightened point of labor, find something to focus on and get ready to push. I stared straight ahead and focused on the picture in front of me when it was go time. And I thought of how much pain will bring me how much joy. If you focus, you can greatly shorten your pushing time and see your beautiful baby sooner. I did just this and 40 minutes of pushing, the best present, Alexa Grace entered the world to join her 3 siblings.
So without medication other than one bag of IV, I had a completely natural labor and literally was up walking right after delivery. I felt better, everything looked clearer and I was able to enjoy all the beauty of the experience of a natural labor. I would not have done it any other way and I feel stronger from it. So if you are planning on having a natural labor, tell me why?