Scared - How to best prepare for med-free birth — The Bump
Natural Birth

Scared - How to best prepare for med-free birth

I really would like to have a med-free birth. I've been reading a book about the Bradley method which is giving me some confidence, reading lots of positive birth stories, and trying to frame a really relaxed and positive mindset about the birthing experience. However, in my hospital birthing class last night, we watched a video about epidurals and about natural births, and I got very scared - of both options, to be honest. 

I really want to avoid an epidural because I don't want to be confined to bed or have a catheter. The idea of being unable to feel my legs and unable to get up out of bed makes me feel very panicky, and I feel like dealing with the pain is the more pleasant option. But the women in the natural birthing video had all these strategies worked out with their husbands that I don't feel prepared for. They had hand signals about breathing, had their husbands up in their face and seemed like they'd been practicing for months. Aside from reading books and hoping for the best, I haven't been doing much else to prepare. I felt really confident that I could do it until last night, but watching the women in pain really freaked me out.

Please don't try to convince me into getting an epidural or other pain medicine. I know it's there as an option and am keeping an open mind in case I need it. This is my first birth so, having nothing to compare it to, I'm fully aware that I may get to the hospital, lose my shit, and need drugs. What I'd really like to know is what other moms who are planning a drug free birth are doing to prepare, and what can I do in these next 6 weeks to help make that more likely to happen.

Oh, also - I live in a rural(ish) area where they don't really offer many birthing classes besides the one from the hospital. No Bradley or Hypnobirthing classes anywhere close by. :(


Mrsrundell

Re: Scared - How to best prepare for med-free birth

  • Sounds like you are doing plenty of positive things. Reading through the birth stories posted on here will give insight about how they prepared and what the result was. 

    You also have to be OK with being afraid. Even if you had given birth before, you wouldn't be able to expect the same experience this time. It's always unknown, which comes with anxiety. Might help to remember that millions of women throughout history have given birth, and you can do it too!

    It's my understanding that Hypnobabies is the one course that is designed with a self-study option (Bradley and Hynobirthing are meant to be completed in-person), so that might be a program to look into. It's structured as a 10 weeks, but is easily accelerated.
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  • mindaa said:
    Sounds like you are doing plenty of positive things. Reading through the birth stories posted on here will give insight about how they prepared and what the result was. 

    You also have to be OK with being afraid. Even if you had given birth before, you wouldn't be able to expect the same experience this time. It's always unknown, which comes with anxiety. Might help to remember that millions of women throughout history have given birth, and you can do it too!

    It's my understanding that Hypnobabies is the one course that is designed with a self-study option (Bradley and Hynobirthing are meant to be completed in-person), so that might be a program to look into. It's structured as a 10 weeks, but is easily accelerated.


    Great advice!

    OP I agree it sounds like you are doing a ton already! There is only so much you can do to prepare and you seem to be doing it. I like what PP above said about being scared and being OK with that. Also go into knowing that you will have NO idea what is going to happen. All the prep in the world won't prepare you for the real thing so just try to be at peace with that.

    I'll tell you that I've had 2 births: one with an epidural and one without. They were both drastically different and both had positives and negatives. If you are willing to go to the hospital with an open mind then you're in good shape ;)

     

    mindaagemini2005
  • edited January 2016
    I just took the following books out of the library (like an hour ago):

    Husband Coached Childbirth --Robert Bradley (the Bradley method)

    The Yoga Birth Method --Dorothy Guerra

    Hypnobirthing, the Mongan Method -- Marie Mongan

    I have read people who swear by Bradley and by hypnobirthing. Never heard of the yoga one, but I have been practicing for many years. My intent is to see what speaks to me, and then perhaps seek out these live classes. I watched some 5 minute epidural birth and I will NOT be watching any other births (and it was a very quiet, uneventful birth). My imagination is good enough. Upon asking the midwives which was "better"--they just said yes. Anything is better, but you have to practice. It can't hurt to have a LOT of tools in your tool box of pain management.

    This will be my first as well, and my family is not overly on board with me not being in a hospital for a few good reasons. However, I have politely alerted people now that I have made my decision about a midwife birth at a birth center, and that I understand anything can happen and that I am not rigid in any of my plans. I may end up at the hospital with a midwife or need to be transferred to an actual doctor. And that's ok. And <end scene> they get no more input. I ask only for their support or silence. >:)
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  • Take a Bradley class.  It's a 12 week class geared towards natural birth.  They will teach you laboring positions and ways to cope.  I loved my Bradley class.  My instructor had 4 natural births herself so she really gave me the confidence I needed.  I also wanted a natural birth so badly that I switched from a hospital birth (the hospital had a high c section percentage) to a birth center run by midwives at 28 weeks.  Go to the Birth Without Fear website and read natural birth stories.  
    Also read Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth.  Pushed by Jennifer Block.   

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  • I totally understand your fears. I am just in the process of deciding to have an unmedicated birth and feel unprepared. I too am reading a lot but haven't yet practiced any techniques.

    I would just say, get with your partner and start practicing a routine. Find several coping mechanisms you think could work for you and practice them together. They can be whatever the two of you want them to be. Develop your own rhythm. Visualize your birth.

    Of course, I've never done it before, so what do I know? I wish you all the best. You can do it! Whatever your journey ends up looking like, it'll be magical. 
    Pregnancy Ticker
  • I am also a FTM and we are hoping for an unmedicated and intervention-free delivery.  We just attended our 2nd Bradley class last night which focused on the Brewer diet and maternal nutrition.  If you are thinking about using the Bradley method, the book should walk you through a lot of the husband-coached stuff, if your partner is up to that. It's called Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way.

    Pregnancy Ticker
  • Would you be willing to try meditation? I had to be induced with my daughter (10 days after her due date) so being hooked up to pitocin was not how I imagined my labor/delivery, but I was able to do a pain med-free delivery. Honestly, trying to visualize contractions coming to an end (even though it feels like it will NEVER end lol) was helpful. I'm a social worker and I do a lot of guided imagery with the kids that I serve, and that's another way to help focus on something else than what you are worried about. I'm only 15 weeks with this LO so definitely trying to prepare my mind and body for (hopefully) another pain med-free delivery.
    bunnywahl
  • I had a med-free birth, and it was painful and intense and hard as hell, but I am so glad I did it.  I took birthing classes through my birth center, and learned some laboring positions and pain coping mechanisms.  I found I preferred to be upright during labor, and used a birthing ball a lot.  Strange as it sounds, laboring on the toilet is a great position and can help your cervix open.  Try to move as much as you can, walk around if they allow it, and use your partner as a physical support.  I spent a lot of my labor using my husband's hand to ground me, and I used him for leverage while I was pushing.  Try to bring some distraction with you, like music, or an iPad with movies loaded.  Eat while you are in early labor so you can keep your strength up, and try to nap before you go to the hospital.  I know people who have had good success with Bradley method and Hypnobabies, although i didn't use either.  
  • PPs have made some great suggestions. My first and second L&D were night and day.
    With my 1st I wanted a med free birth unfortunately we moved out of state and I ended up delivering with hospital midwives who were not as supportive as I thought they would be. Anyways I had really long back labor and ended up being too tired and had an epidural. I hated my epidural for the exact reasons you stated. (36 hrs and 1 hr of pushing with minor tearing)
    With this pregnancy I was determined to go med free. Like you I read a lot, but didn't take any birthing classes. I read a lot about women mediating and having the mantra of, "This pain will pass. This pain has a purpose. Every contraction is one more contraction closer to meeting baby." Honestly this mantra totally worked for me! Granted I labored in many different positions hands and knees on a birth ball, in the tub you name it I tried it. I never thought my contractions were beyond mild until I realized oh crap this baby is coming and I'm pushing. (6 hrs, 5 minutes of my body doing the pushing, zero tearing)
    I'm convinced the power of mediation and positioning got me through my second L&D.
    Best of luck mama. I hope you have the birth you are hoping for. And if it does go exactly as planned don't beat yourself up over it. The end result of a healthy baby is more important than the how they got here.

    KASG
  • I'm a FTM and I plan on doing a med free delivery as well. The biggest things I've done to prepare myself is reading Ina May's Childbirth book. Which as another person said, is really good and has a bunch of birth stories in it which has given me confidence if all these woman can do it, so can I. I've also have read a lot of the blogs on this site and other sites where woman share their stories. I feel like that has got me mentally prepared as well. Good Luck!! 
  • Read. Read books, read articles and medical studies. Inform yourself and your husband on important birth interventions and newborn procedures.

    Regardless of what plan we may have, it's important to be at peace with whatever birth outcome we have as long as it's a healthy mom and babe! Sometimes are just purely unavoidable. And coming in with that confidence, and a basic knowledge can definitely change your outcomes, even if you do have more interventions then previously wanted. 

    Yoga, exercise, meditate. Take some classes. And try to surround yourself with like minded individuals. DE-stress! Go to therapy if it becomes too much, if that's your thing. 

    Have confidence in your provider to understand your needs and desires. 

    Hire a doula. This is probably my biggest mistake on my first birth, despite my husband and I both trying to educate and plan. I can't help but wonder if I would of been successful if I had hired one. 

    AND lastly and my biggest advice (as this is my second time around), don't ignore the importance of having a well positioned baby in our third trimester. Back labor is no joke, and I wish I knew what I knew now to possibly have changed her positioning. 


  • I'm in a very similar situation. I have calm moments and total WTF moments. We are planning a natural home birth. My husband and I are doing a DIY birth class after reading Birthing From Within. I very highly recommend this book and pain coping practices (http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/collections/videos-dvds/products/pain-coping-practices-for-parents-cd). We are also doing a natural birth class at a local hospital. As my midwife said "the more tricks you have in your bag, the better." I'm also a FTM, but I know we can do this!!
    bunnywahlCantanteLirica
  • Mdev01 said:
    I'm in a very similar situation. I have calm moments and total WTF moments. We are planning a natural home birth. My husband and I are doing a DIY birth class after reading Birthing From Within. I very highly recommend this book and pain coping practices (http://www.birthingfromwithin.com/collections/videos-dvds/products/pain-coping-practices-for-parents-cd). We are also doing a natural birth class at a local hospital. As my midwife said "the more tricks you have in your bag, the better." I'm also a FTM, but I know we can do this!!
    You can totally do it! We all can!
    Pregnancy Ticker
  • I'm in my second pregnancy wanting a completely different birth experience. I had your 'typical' hospital delivery (per the on call OB I wasn't laboring quick enough so he wanted to give me Pitocin and with that they highly suggested I get an epidural, so I did). My best advice would be to EDUCATE yourself and hire a doula or have someone by your side that will support your natural birth choices. I watched the Business of Being Born and my eyes were truly opened to how hospitals are lucrative businesses...period. This time around my husband and I are taking a Hypnobirthing class (5 week Mongan Method) and hiring a doula. I've expressed to my husband that I want him to be part of my pregnancy as much as possible so he can understand how important a natural delivery is to me and be my advocate during labor/delivery. The truth of the matter is we ARE capable of delivering naturally with no medication, is it a walk in the park? Absolutely not but it's possible. The moment you let fear, of anything really, take control you can lose sight of your motives. READ, READ and YOUTUBE as much as you can. The more you're aware of what you have control over the more likely you are at fulfilling your natural non medicated birth. I'm even more pumped about having a natural birth because I'm having a little girl, my first was a boy, and I want her to know how powerful she is and how amazing God created women to be.



    image
  • One important thing is to try not to be afraid. Fear will only increase the pain. I'm a FTM too and going to deliver naturally at a birthing center.  I just keep reminding myself that this is what we were made for and our bodies are naturally able to do this. Plus the actual "I can't do this" part of labor they say isn't so long and the rest is at least manageable. My mother had all 5 of her children at home with a midwife and my best friend had a 48 hour labor and the baby was posterior and she managed. And she was the type of girl who stayed home every time she got her period! 

    Just look around you to stories that will reassure you that you CAN do this just like so many others have. We are women and we were created with this ability to have children and what better way to do it than to do it naturally the way it was intended! We can do this!!!
  • I had a lot of anxiety surrounding labor and found that the Hypnobabies class and reading Ina May and a book called Natural Hospital Birth (forgot the exact title sorry) was very helpful in preparing mentally. They talk about nutrition, making sure baby is in the best position during your 3rd trimester, different positions for laboring in, epidurals, c-section, newborn tests, etc. I know you said Hypnobabies is not available nearby, but you can get some of their resources online. Probably the most helpful thing from that class for me was  listening to their "Pregnancy Affirmations" track daily. It helped re-train my brain on the fact that a woman's body is designed to give birth. I used Hypnobabies techniques while in early labor but found breathing and positioning more helpful towards the end. Walking while in moderate labor was good but once I was beyond 7-8cm dilated, I wanted to be upright, sitting on the birth ball. I also found that just taking each "pressure wave" (that's what Hypnobabies calls contractions) one at a time was helpful. Also, if you can afford it, hire a doula. It's nice to have a calming presence in the room (besides your partner) who can help you stay focused and give your partner a break.  can do it! If you haven't already, create a birth plan but be flexible, knowing that things don't always go according to plan. For myself, I knew I really wanted to go med-free because of other interventions that can occur with epidurals. At the same time, if I had needed an emergency C-section, an epidural would've been warranted. I am really glad I had a med-free birth and don't regret it for a second. You can do it! Best wishes for a wonderful birth!
  • I second hiring a doula. I also live in a very rural area, and am hoping for a intervention free delivery, and we were able to find 4 doula's within a reasonable distance. All 4 are willing to come to our home to help us prep. 
    Honestly... the biggest benefit to a doula for me (also a FTM) is there is someone there who is working for ME. Not the hospital, not my doctor, but for me. She is going to break it down if there is something other than normal going on, she won't go off shift, and I know it will be (barring illness, or an emergency) her by my side, not her back up, since my delivery is a priority for her. 
    My husband has never been through this either, and a doula is support for him even more so than for me. 



    kimey1
  • I also decided, after researching and contacting Bradley, Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies teachers, that I did not want to do a 6 week, $400-600 class. I've read and read and read. A book that I was going to bypass, which I thought was just self-explanatory, was "The Yoga Birth Method." I've been practicing for almost 20 years and so much made sense. Mantras, specific yoga positions as you move through the phases, using intentions, and not disconnecting yourself from the experience. I seriously became excited and happy to give birth after I found this method that spoke to me (I had hesitations about the other ones).

    I am also working with my therapist on visualization, not having fear, etc. while simultaneously working to keep my body as strong as possible. I am working with midwives that feel that because of the strength of their position on natural childbirth, a doula isn't really necessary, but of course, welcome. My next steps are to continue on with my prep and start watching youtube videos of breathing exercises and any other tricks. I'm not super against medical intervention at all, but just believe firmly that our bodies know what to do. That being said, I know too many people who have had weird stuff happen to think that it couldn't happen to me and I'm open to that.
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    Losses: MMC#1 11/12 BO, MC#2 11/13 at 8w BO?, MMC#3 8/14 chromo healthy M @12 weeks, stopped growing at 10.
    Negligible AMH, FSH finally went high. Pursued DE.

    DD born at 38w2d on 5-27-16. Finally!!

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  • I did 50-100 squats every night, and walked for 2-3+ miles every day. I also drank red raspberry leaf tea (5-6 bags a day). The exercise really saved my legs and really helped me prepare for a very hard labor (7 hours). The tea I do believe helped prepare my cervix. I think this is what I would advise, is to try to physically prepare as much as possible. 

    Also, of course have support during labor. My doula absolutely saved me! We did 3 pre-birth sessions where we talked about birth and my birth plan ect.... She came with a bag of awesome tools. We used her rebozo every contraction! My birth plan was passed to every nurse and my midwife. Having that motivating support team was absolutely necessary. There were many times I believed I couldn't do it, and my birth team kept me going.

    KASGkimey1
  • I am glad you asked those questions because you are not the only one.  I am scared too!  My husband is reading up on the Bradley Method.  I don't think we can afford a doula because it would have to be out of pocket.  We've taken a lamazze class, which gave some natural pain suggestions- very good!  Other than that, I am not sure what else to try either.
  • Trusting that our bodies will do what it needs to do seems to help. I'm scared too but the more I read and hear hypnobreathing audio files I'm feeling more comfortable amd trust that I'll leave my body on autopilot. You got this!
  • I'm a FTM and while I'm only halfway through JuJu Sundin's Birth Skills I really like the book. So far all suggestions have been practical and make sense. There are lots of portions of birth stories about pain management techniques that worked for various people. This book has been straight forward which I appreciate (trying to relax while someone leads me on a visual journey is just not my style). It adds a lot of things to the pain management tool box and has given me more confidence :)
  • @DebraG421 if you want a doula but are worried about cost look for any doulas that are in the process of certification.  Often times they will offer a discounted fee since they need to attend births for certification. DONA also stresses that their members work with parents budget as much as possible through their "a doula for every mother" goal. Maybe contact a DONA doula and see if they can help you contact someone who can help. At this point I'm charging moms $50 to doula for them. I want to get my births in before I give birth lol

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  • Quit telling yourself it is going to hurt. Don't assume it will be a lot of pain, because that just might not be the case. I think every mom has a different experience with pain, and for me it wasn't that bad, just gentle cramping and waves until the momment of, then she was here. Positive affirmations, via podcasts or hypnobabies, gentlebirth, etc are awesome, but you have to find what works with you. Put together a playlist to get you in the zone, but have a whole bunch of things in your arsenal, because you don't know what will really help until the big day.
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  • Oh, I second the JuJu Sandin's Birth Skills
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  • I meant to go to a class/read something etc... But I honestly never got around to it, I worked past my due date and I just had a billion other things on my plate, it became medically necessary for me to be induced with pitocin which was the last thing I wanted, but oh well... One thing I was thankful for was that I wrote down my wishes, and told my husband my wishes unequivocally, because after 22 hours and pitocin drenched misery I almost gave in but I made it through, the nurses kept offering me all kinds of pain meds, even tried to give me morphine to sleep... I think the most helpful things were believe it or not yoga breathing, just telling myself that it would end, and damn near breaking my poor dh's hand... (It made an alarming creaking noise, I was so panicked that I hurt him it took me out of the pain for a moment...) I would absolutely do it the same again, just be sure to discuss your choices with your doctors, your husband, and research worst case scenarios just in case so that you have back up methods in place if you decide you do need something, they offered me a ton of stuff I wouldn't touch not pregnant, and believe in yourself, one way or another it is a short period in your life and it will end, and you will have a beautiful baby that will make it all worth it...
    gemini2005
  • I did take a Bradley class but I think the thing that helped me the most was realizing that the pain of child birth is different than the pain of breaking an arm. Pain from injury is meant to signal you to know something is wrong. It's bad pain because something that wasn't supposed to happen happened. But the pain of childbirth is natural, and in the animal world it's a signal for the mother to find a safe spot away from predators to protect her baby. The pain from childbirth is not meant to signal that something is wrong, it's meant to help you protect your little one. Without it, women would be having babies in grocery stores and the car and everywhere in between if their bodies didn't tell them to get somewhere safe.  Also, the book Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama is an awesome book that adds some humor to everything and is a good read while being very helpful. It's also short. I never read all of my Bradley Method book. You can do it, your body is meant to do it. Remember why you want it and why it's important and that helps. Not sure if you community has any doula's but if feasible, they are a great option in assisting with natural births. But if not, you can do it on your own. Learn about the birthing process, learn about transition. Most women who plan a natural birth but end up having pain medication are actually in the middle of transition when they think they can't do it anymore. I held on to that and when I started telling myself I couldn't do it, I thought "I have to be in transition, transition only typically lasts 30 minutes, I can do this for 30 minutes, it will take longer for the anesthesiologist to get here than that so I have to do it for 30 minutes." Education is key. Also, know what relaxes you and talk to your support person about it. Is there music that relaxes you? If so, bring that along (you may or may not want it when the time comes). Does back massage seem like something you'd like? Bring a massager along. You may find that what feels good before labor is the last thing you want while in it. Have options. Also, you can read up online of labor positions. Nothing in the classes that you can't find online. Relaxation is key and if you have ideas on how to relax ahead of time it will help. I also did prenatal yoga (or regular yoga) and the breathing techniques of yoga helped me relax and get through the contractions. You can do this!!

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