birth, Pregnancy

Birth // Tips for Coping With a Drug Free Birth

So you’ve chosen to have a drug free birth. That’s amazing. There are so many benefits to choosing to give birth the natural way.

They say childbirth is the most painful thing you will go through in this life and they’re not wrong, but it is manageable. Trust me, if I can get through it without any drugs, anybody can.

The key benefits for having a drug free birth include:

  • Feeling empowered
  • No loss of sensation, meaning you are completely in control of what is happening and less chance of intervention.
  • The drugs can cause the baby to be sleepy making breastfeeding more difficult in those first few hours.
  • Drugs can slow down labour and trust me, you want this to be over as quickly as possible!

I wanted to write a list of top tips for getting through a drug free birth. It can get difficult and half way through your labour you may decide to change your mind, especially when you are getting to the transitional phase. Keep these tips in mind and hopefully you can power through it.

1. Stay at home as long as possible

When you are at home, you have all of your comforts- your bed, comfy sofa, TV etc. In the hospital, everything can feel very clinical and you may feel chained to your bed. At home, there are plenty of distractions to keep you busy and help the time pass quickly. Watch a TV show, go for a walk around the block, prepare a meal and eat it to boost your energy, play a video game, read a book, or take a bath. I stayed at home until I was 8cm dilated. If you can do the majority of your contractions at home, then by the time you get to hospital you don’t have much further to go and that feels good. (Please keep in touch with the hospital though, the last thing you need is for baby to start crowning while you are still at home!)

2. Move around

Keep moving as much as you can. Lying down isn’t going to help. Get bouncing on a birthing ball, go for a walk around your house or around the block, practise a little gentle yoga or pilates; anything to keep you moving and keep your mind off the pain.

3. Take paracetamol and use a hot water bottle

Pop some paracetamol when the pain first starts, it’s not going to eliminate the pain completely, but it will help. A hot water bottle will help ease backaches. Get your partner to place it on your back while you practise your breathing. Back rubs may help as well if your partner is willing.

Have you chosen to have a drug free birth? Here are my top tips for getting through child birth without any pain relief. You can do this!

4. Invest in a birthing ball

I got hold of one of these beauties early on to help with my SPD and it came in very useful during the early stages of labour. It really helped me every time I had a contraction to bounce up and down through it. Maria from MummytoLogan made good use of hers while she was at the hospital before going into the pool and highly recommends it for a drug free birth.

5. Remember that every contraction will bring you closer to your baby and focus on that.

My midwife gave me this piece of advice and it really works if you are a positive person. Every time you feel a contraction, let it pass and tell yourself, that’s another one gone and I am now one step closer to meeting my child. When I started contracting at 4am, I told myself it would all be over in 24 hours (23 in fact), and every hour that passed by, I congratulated myself for getting through it and let myself feel excited that my baby would be here soon.

6. Learn some breathing techniques and make use of them.

Here in Liverpool, we have antenatal classes to teach you breathing techniques ready for the birth. These can come in so useful to help you focus on something and breathe through the pain. Nadine from Then I Became Mum tried lots of different ways to breathe through her contractions until she found a way that worked. She breathed in slowly and deeply focusing on the breathing rather than the contraction, held it for a few second and then exhaled slowly, before repeating.

7. Use a birthing pool / bath

I was in and out of my bath at home all day. The warm water was a great painkiller for my contractions. Even better was the massive birthing pool at the hospital. I have never felt more relaxed letting my body float in the warm water and letting my body do its job of contracting to get ready to deliver my baby. I highly recommend it.

8. Have your birthing partner next to you at all times

Make sure your birthing partner knows and understands why you want a drug free birth. You need to sit down and discuss this at length so that if you try to change your mind during labour, they can be there to remind you of your reasons for choosing this way of giving birth naturally and give you moral support.

Have you chosen to have a drug free birth? Here are my top tips for getting through child birth without any pain relief. You can do this!

9. Make use of the gas and air

When you get to hospital, get that gas and air on the go. It can make some people sick but for me it was just wonderful. Hayley from Devon Mama agrees. She fully enjoyed chomping down on the tube and inhaling the gas and air to help with the pain. For me, after getting to 8cm at home with nothing, the gas and air was a welcome addition and helped me get to the pushing stage without too much of a fuss.

10. Believe in yourself.

You CAN do this! So many women have given birth naturally so it is very possible. Go into this exciting and amazing experience with a positive mental attitude and the belief that you are strong enough to do this.


Is there anything I’ve left out? What helped you get through your drug free birth?

If you are interested in reading Dexter’s birth story, you can do so here.

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  • Reply Amanda

    These are all great tips!! I used the ball with two and it really helped with the beginning of labour!
    Amanda recently posted…Starting Solids: A What You Need GuideMy Profile

    7th March 2017 at 8:11 am
  • Reply Devon Mama

    Thanks for the mention! I think I did all of these, especially the keeping walking one! A huge thing for me was to just go with what my body was telling me. I instinctively knew that for me, an all fours position (mostly gripping onto something with my hands like the end of a bed!!) was the most comfortable and that’s the position I kept coming back to. That bloody ball though… drove me potty all that bouncing and ‘rotate to dilate’!
    Devon Mama recently posted…Living Arrows: Week TenMy Profile

    7th March 2017 at 1:45 pm
  • Reply Shannon

    Hi Nicola! Shannon here.

    As a first time expecting mom due in May this post came just in time. I honestly wasn’t sure what type of birth plan I wanted and needed so much information on all of the types of deliveries. I’m so torn between getting an epidural or going drug free. This truly helps me put things into perspective. Thanks a ton for all the tips!

    xx Shannon /

    7th March 2017 at 2:28 pm
  • Reply Jenny (Midwife and Life)

    These are great tips for a birth without drugs or intervention. A bath at home works wonders too. Be prepared for curveballs, and preparation and being informed is key.

    13th March 2017 at 9:44 am
    • Reply mummytodex

      I was in and out of my bath most of the day!

      14th March 2017 at 3:30 pm
  • Reply Laura @ Life with Baby Kicks

    I had all sorts of grand plans to do all of this with both of mine. Then I had health complications with both and inductions followed by emergency c-sections happened.

    I can say that epidurals definitely didn’t go well for me in labour as well because after going as long as I could in hospital room with nothing but gas and air and no distractions I gave in and that was the start of all the problems that led to the c-section! I think if I’d been home (and baking a birthday cake as I’d planned) it would have been much better for the birth I wanted over the birth I got.
    Laura @ Life with Baby Kicks recently posted…Living Arrows 11/52 – Camping at Fuwairit BeachMy Profile

    14th March 2017 at 3:31 am
  • Reply Becky, Cuddle Fairy

    I agree on all of these! The gas & air is glorious. The biggest point for me was focusing on the fact that every pain was getting closer to baby coming & that helped me keep myself calm. Great tips here lovely x
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy recently posted…Cuddle Fairy’s 2nd Birthday Giveaways!!My Profile

    14th March 2017 at 9:12 pm
  • Reply Katy (What Katy Said)

    I had Gracie with nothing at all and I put that down to being in the bath for 5 hours at home haha! I went in at 10cm. With Lils and Wills I had gas and air and I couldn’t have been without it as their labours were so quick my body couldn’t adjust to the pain. Great list of ways to cope here!
    Katy (What Katy Said) recently posted…Siblings: MarchMy Profile

    15th March 2017 at 7:57 pm
  • Reply Mudpie Fridays

    I had grand plans for a home water birth with the first but got to 7cm and stopped. As I was sixteen days over I had to go in and it didn’t go to plan at all. Second time round I had health complications which meant I was induced. I’m not going for third time lucky!! Great tips I do believe it’s the best way to go if you can!
    Mudpie Fridays recently posted…24 hours in Warwick with little ones when its raining!My Profile

    17th March 2017 at 2:10 pm
  • Reply Janet @ AWM

    I had pain relief with my first because it was such a long birth but the drugs made me tired and I also threw up afterwards so with my other two, I did it without. I felt better afterwards – no sickly feeling. My third was a water birth that really helped with the pain too!

    Thanks for such a great post – such a positive outlook on how to have a drug free birth!

    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes

    19th March 2017 at 11:43 am
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