As Pediatric ER nurse Shannon Tripp explained, natural birth can result in a much quicker labor if you go unmedicated. Three out of her four unmedicated births had a very quick recovery. In fact, she was up and showering within an hour.
During nursing school is when Shannon resolved to have her babies the natural way. While doing her rounds, she was awakened to the harsh reality that hospitals are indeed a business. Do nurses and doctors care about their patients? Without a doubt, that is why they chose their profession. However, she just never thought of the business aspect of it until she got into med school.
The nurse to be would overhear doctors and nurses asking each other to go to certain rooms to coax moms into drugs they already voiced they did not want. She heard the frustration in their voices as they discussed what was easier for them on that particular shift vs. the requests of the moms.
The turning point for Shannon was when she witnessed something she was totally unaccustomed to in the birthing unit. She saw a mom up beside the bed doing her own thing, completely in control. It looked so calm and peaceful that Shannon decided she wanted her future babies to be born that way. She wanted to feel as strong as that woman looked!
You can find the whole podcast full of her birth mistakes and insights here: https://thebirthhour.com/homebirth-experience-within-walls-hospital/
If you go through the website, it says you need to pay $5 to access all the podcasts. Or, you can do like me and get the free app podbean and listen to it there on episode 423.
Several doctors support the mom in whatever way she chooses to give birth and I have heard that hospitals are becoming more accommodating. Yet, I can not ignore the fact that someone very close to me has a sister-in-law that was almost injected with shots she not only didn’t want-but simply did not need! My friend told me how alarming it was to hear about her brother catching nurses whispering and planning to give his wife things that she directly said she did not want.
No matter what I choose, I do want to know that what I say is heard and not taken lightly. I want my people to be vigilant in making sure nothing like this happens to me. I would be devastated if I thought I was doing one thing, just to find out they had secretly done another because “it won’t hurt you” or “it is not a big deal”. That is never okay!!
What inspired me to even consider something like a natural birth was the book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League. Some of the points it made left me feeling empowered to do what God designed for me to do. The book argued that we are mammals that are made to carry out the purpose of childbirth. It is a natural part of the life cycle that has been going on for millions of years even before there were interventions. Back when there was no epidural, women did it.
Another really helpful thing they said was that in between every contraction is a resting period. They compared it to how our bodies know when to stop during a workout and how it is the same concept with labor. Grossly oversimplified? Yeah, but you get the point. Your body won’t do beyond what it can bear even though it sure feels like it at the time.
Epidurals seem pretty tempting; I am not one for pain. I do know though that if I choose to get one it definitely reaches the baby through the placenta. That breastfeeding book says that this affects the babies ability to find the breast, latch, and suck effectively after they are born. Depending on how long the epidural was used and at what dosage, the effects can last from a few days to even a few weeks.
Not only does it affect breastfeeding, but it affects your natural endorphins. It is a drug after all, so it can make you and your baby feel flatter emotionally and make it harder to respond or connect to one another. By going unmedicated, you will feel better physically as well. There is less of a chance of tearing and a faster recovery rate for moms who get to ride it all out.
La Leche League says that an IV is not supported by research and that it could waterlog you and baby. This could delay your milk coming in which is a supply and demand system that is very important to calibrate in the first two weeks. If the nurses insist, the book suggests that the mom ask for a hep-lock instead so that an IV can be plugged in instantly if needed. Otherwise, it doesn’t interfere.
On the topic of Being Induced from the book “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” by La Leche League International:
-It makes no sense to say that your body would not go into labor without intervention. After all, your body is designed to give birth. There has never been a woman who was stuck pregnant forever. So, it is just a matter of dealing with the hardships of pregnancy until baby is ready. We did not used to select a date that was convenient for us or our doctor. Most babies are perfectly healthy and the mom simply decides she is sick of being pregnant.
-If baby is not ready to come out just by a week or even a few days, you are taking away some of the nutrients baby needs. I have a friend who determines the proper proportion of milk for NICCU babies. She says that these babies are extremely sick-not because they are physically small-but because they simply needed more time to soak up all the vitamins they get during pregnancy.
-You know how lots of women are delaying cord clamp cutting because it lets babies get that extra boost of iron and zinc that can last from 6-9 months vs. running out much much sooner? Not to mention several other wonderful perks for the baby..Well, this just points back to how odd it is that our society is so focused on rushing baby. Should we not let the baby take its precious time so that it can be its most healthy and best self?
I think it makes logical sense to let mother nature run its course but these are only my opinions. I also know that every mom does not even have this choice. Some are doing what is in the best interest of the baby by having an emergency induction.
-“The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” says the following:
Until your baby is ready, your uterus does everything in its power to keep your little one safely inside. That is why attempts to induce labor with Pitocin (artificial ocytocin-which causes contractions) often fail. “A failed induction” is actually just a defense against premature birth. Attempts to induce labor can cause a painful and long labor possibly resulting in a c section.
A baby who is not quite ready to be born even a few days early may have more difficulty breathing, coordinating and sucking, and swallowing when they try to breastfeed.
“A failed induction” is actually just a defense against premature birth. –The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
Tips for Going Through with a Natural Birth:
-Get comfortable. This is YOUR birth. The doctors do this all day every day and it is a routine for them. Depending on how many children you have, this is a once in a lifetime experience. Naturally I am a passive person but I am trying to get better at communicating my needs and wants. This is vital to having the birth you want. Doctors will do it the way they are accustomed to if you do not voice your plan ahead of time.
-When picking a doctor, do not ask if they support unmedicated birth. All doctors will say yes. Shannon Tripp suggests asking open-ended questions such as: What are the pros and cons of going unmedicated vs. epidural. If they can not give you any pros of going natural, then they are probably not going to be very supportive of your birth plan. What she suggests is either switching doctors right then and there or being aware that you will be fighting an uphill battle. I also suggest asking your doctor what they personally did and they will automatically leak their reasons for doing so. By doing this, you can gauge whether they are passionate about one option vs. the other or if they seem indifferent.
-Shannon says that it is extremely important not to say “I will TRY not to have an epidural”. Woops, that is what I keep saying, haha! It does make sense though that you will be more likely to follow through with something you are dead set on vs. wishy washy. I mean, moms do not avoid epidurals because they think birth is painless. Natural birth has to be important for very specific reasons or else it is too easy to back on when it gets tough. And IT WILL. Shannon said you need to go in knowing your “why”.
-Make sure your partner is supportive. Express how much a natural birth means to you and why. Talk extensively about the choices you will face together. Remember that you two should be a united front. Word of advice for you men: no matter how ridiculous some of this may seem to you and even if you honestly could not care either way, it is your job to stand behind your woman. If she finds it important, so should you. Everything done in pregnancy all the way through labor and delivery happens to her body and not yours. So, of course she is going to be more passionate about all the tiny things. Be gentle with her.
Other things to consider:
-Be knowledgable about the possibilities: Epidural, IV fluids, pictocin, C-section, Induced labor, forceps delivery, at home birth, doulas/midwifes, water birth, hypnosis, ect.
-Be flexible. Ugh how I hate this one, but it is so important! I want to have an unmedicated birth but if I go into that hospital room with no mental capactity for a change of plans, I can be sorely disappointed. I also do not want to be distressed during labor if there is a sudden change of events. Yes, the mom should be in control but also acknowledge that life is simply not scripted. Being able to go with the flow to some degree, will allow a more peaceful birthing experience.
-Be gracious with yourself if things do not go to plan. If you give in to getting an epidural or the doctors end up doing a C-section, do not feel ashamed! You can not always control what happens and it is better to learn this early on in motherhood. So many moms feel heartbroken that they did not have their babies “the best way”. It is perfectly fine to have big deep emotions about what happened on birth day. It is a monumental moment in your life.
Be sure to talk about it all with your partner, friends, and relatives. Take time to process everything that happened that day and any feelings you associate with it. All feelings are valid feelings and you don’t need to feel obligated to be happy all the time. Many women face depression surrounding the birth experience and life in the fourth trimester. It needs to be addressed rather than ignored, yes. But it common and you are certainly not less of a mother because of it.
-Do not judge other moms for doing it differently than you. You have your reasons for doing things your way and they have theirs. No matter how a baby is born, it can be a magical experience for mom and dad. The most important thing is a healthy baby, not the way in which the baby enters the world.
-Realize that you may have some tension from your doctor and be prepared to deal with pressure to do things the way the hospital does. Pick your battles but also stand your ground on what is most important to you. Do not be dismayed if the nurses are not 100% elated you are going all natural, they are just going off of what they have seen and experienced.
-A natural birth does not ensure a smooth transition into postpartum. Many moms struggle with intense anxiety as they realize all the changes that are taking place: friend groups may change, sleep patterns, schedules, time in general may slow to a crawl in those first few weeks, or you may be struggling to hold onto cuddle time with your baby as the clock winds down to go back to work.
Quotes from moms who did natural births, wish they would have gone without the epidural, and a couple of moms that are here simply to offer encouragement and support for the journey:
-My sweet mom, Christy who gave birth naturally to me and my two sisters:
“I would say everyone is different. It was important to me. I wanted to be aware of everything and for my babies to be free of any medication. I loved that it was natural-when you were supposed to be born-not delayed. Not scheduled. You came quickly. And it was good for me. Not a lot of waiting. And I was ready to see you. I wanted to nurse well….Everyone has a choice and that is okay.”
-A powerful quote by R.N. and lactation consultant Cristi who had two unmedicated births and the second one at home:
“I love natural birth because it’s empowering. The whole premise of natural birth is that the female body was created by God to grow and birth a baby. Women did it for thousands of years without any interventions. The Bible tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. The medical world has made women believe that our bodies are defective. That we can’t carry and birth a baby without “help” or interference. That it’s too hard and too painful. But that degrades us as women. It makes us feel incapable and it strips us of the power that God have us when he created us. We are strong and resilient. We can do so many amazing, hard things. Our bodies are beautiful and will do amazing things when we support them and let them do the natural things God created them to do.
-Megan, mother with two natural births:
“Tips for going natural:
-Hire a doula to help educate or advocate for you because your doctor probably won’t.
-I loved using the Hypnobabies program to train my body to relax during contractions. It helped a lot when things didn’t go as expected during my second birth. I was still able to manage contractions while making medical decisions for myself without medication.
-Any medical procedure has risks and informing yourself of those risks with actual studies and not just heresay is important, for instance: you may opt for an induction because your friends did, but if you look into the risks of induction you may decide that investing in a prebirth program (like hypnobabies) or a doula may outweigh the risks that come with induction (or whatever intervention/treatment you’re considering).”
-Kristen, a mommy to two:
“I had an epidural both times and I regretted it both times. It’s hard to say no when they ask lol. If you are set on it, then tell them when you go in that you don’t want it and if you do you will let them know. They kept pestering me about it with Adaleigh and I caved before I was even really in pain and then I was so numb I couldn’t lift my legs by myself. I hated it. With Anthony I went through most of labor without it and it was so much easier. I also asked for a lower dose. I’m not sure if it was because he was my second or because I wasn’t completely numb, but healing was 100% easier after. My healing after Adaleigh was horrendous.”
-Angela, mom to two daughters:
“I had an epidural with my first.It was a horrible experience and left my back sore for literally months. I had my second completely natural with no IVs, no medications, not even so much is a Tylenol. No doubt it was painful, but the moment she was born I had absolutely no pain anywhere in my whole body and was able to immediately get up and walk around and could have easily taken my baby and gone straight home. If I had had more children, I definitely would’ve gone natural again!”
“I went with the natural birth just because I had a high pain threshold and if I didn’t have to have pain meds why would I take them. Gary and I went to Lamaze classes. They were very helpful in learning to distract from the pain. You can have pain meds if during the process you decide you want them.”
-Kendra, mom of two little ones:
“2 no med births! One at home in a tub. The pain was horrendous, but it’s over quick. It was an amazing experience.”
-Paradise, mom of two with one on the way:
“I had an epidural with both girls and absolutely hated it, but felt pressured. With Rowan I made it to 8 cm before getting it and only did because they thought I was being too loud 🙄 I still have back pain to this day because of it so I’m really hoping to be able to go without and not get pressured this time around. As awesome as it is to feel no pain, the aftermath sucks.”
-Somer, mom of two boys:
“I would have not done an epidural either time had I known what it felt like to do it naturally the first time.”
-Carrie, momma of 5:
“The one birth I did with no drugs (epidural or anything) was my fastest and easiest honestly. I wouldnt trade the experience.”
-Angie, mom to three:
“One piece of advice I can give is no matter what, you can’t feel like the you have to compete or measure up to anyone else. I ended up with 2 unplanned c sections followed by one that had to be a planned one. I felt like I hadn’t fully experienced real labor and therefore didn’t measure up. I can tell you that my oldest is now 25, and that was such a waste of emotional stress. I have three wonderful kids, and this many years later I am just happy that I have them. Everyone has their own childbirth with their own memories. Own it and love it and be proud of it no matter how it happens. ❤️❤️”
“You can’t feel like you have to compete or measure up to anyone else.”-Angie
-Courtney, momma of two boys:
“When it is comes time all you will care about it getting your sweet baby here safe and healthy. Doesn’t matter how 💗 you will be an amazing mom.”