Why I Chose Unmedicated Labor
No birth is alike, and all birthing is genuinely out of our control and up to mother nature. Even if we plan for an unmedicated birth, emergencies can arise that need the intervention of modern medicine. I have experienced both sides of the spectrum, from an epidural due to horrible back labor to a blissful unmedicated birth with the help of a doula.
After a few births under my belt, I realized that I liked laboring at home for as long as possible. This preference and decision lend themselves to unmedicated labor because, by the time I arrive at the hospital, I’m too far along to get any medication anyway! I have found that my labors progress quicker when I am left alone to labor in the comforts of my home. Other reasons I opted for unmedicated births are being able to get into my ‘zen’ zone, quicker recovery, and knowing women have been birthing babies without medication since the dawn of time.
Quicker Recovery Time
I had an epidural with my first, and my recovery afterward felt like an eternity. It hurt to sit for at least a month! Because I had an epidural, I couldn’t feel any pushes, and it took 2 hours for my lovely firstborn to make an appearance. Contrast with my #5, who was out in basically one unmedicated push. Even with my second born, I only had to push a few times until he made his entrance into the world. Less pushing means less chance of tearing, which means a quicker recovery for mama. When you have other littles waiting for you at home, you choose the path of least resistance.
Being Able to Get Into My ‘Zen’ Zone of Labor
Having done this rodeo medicated and unmedicated, I knew the power of being able to go inside yourself to manage the surges and cope with anxiety. Since my fifth pregnancy just happened to coincide with the pandemic, I reached out to my doula because I knew I needed her support to achieve an unmedicated birth amidst the anxiety of a global pandemic. She was trained in hypnobirthing and used meditation, visualization, and affirmations to get my mind ready for the big day. Practicing these meditations took my anxiety away well before the big day and helped me get into my zen zone during labor and delivery. Had I opted for a medicated birth, I would not have been motivated to practice the meditations and prepare myself for the big day.
Wanting To Labor at Home as Long as Possible
The rule hospitals give is to come in when contractions are around 5 minutes apart, last for 1 minute, and are coming consistently for an hour. The longer you wait at home, the fewer chances of intervention, and the greater chance you will be far enough along in labor to be close to birthing your baby once you get to your birthing center or hospital. Going to the hospital too early can create anxiety in the expecting mom, causing labor to slow down due to just being in a hospital setting. If you choose an unmedicated birth, it is encouraged to labor at home as long as possible. When I go into labor, the only interaction I want is someone rubbing my back during those tough surges, preferably by my husband or doula, not unfamiliar hospital staff members. I like laboring at home where I am comfortable and have found my labors progress quickly the longer I labor at home.
Knowing That Women Have Been Birthing Umedicated for Thousands of Years
Knowledge is power! What did women do in the days before medication? They learned coping mechanisms and dealt with it! I am undoubtedly thankful for modern medicine, but it is telling that women don’t need medication to have a healthy labor and delivery. As my doula likes to say, babies have a way of birthing themselves. One of my favorite birth authors, Ina Mae Gaskin, has books filled with her tales as a Midwife and stories of unmedicated births she attended on her ‘farm’. My doula took this to the next level for me and had me watch beautiful, pain-free births. My goal for my last delivery was to breathe my baby out, and watching other moms accomplish this seemingly impossible feat made me feel like I could do it too. Connecting with our female ancestors is a powerful tool, one that has helped women endure the birthing surges for millennia.
No matter how you choose to give birth, you are doing a wonderful job and are capable of having a successful breastfeeding relationship. Birth is birth, no matter how you do it!