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.
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.
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.