No matter how you birth a baby, you’re a rockstar. But if you’re someone who desires an unmedicated birth, I want to encourage you that it IS possible and equip you with all my best strategies from my three births.
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I originally wrote this post in October 2016 after giving birth to my second child — a 9lb 8oz baby boy. I am updating the post, as I have now delivered three babies, having welcomed our sweet little girl to our family this past April.
And just as I did with the boys, I delivered her without an epidural.
I say that not to brag on myself – trust me, I’m no superwoman, and I’m not exactly known for being tough! – but to encourage you that if that is something you truly desire, you can do it, too!
So how did a little weenie like me manage to deliver three babies without an epidural? I would love to share!
How I Managed Labor & Delivery Without an Epidural
We set Levon’s Pandora station to Bethel Music, one of my favorites for worship music. It had just the right tempo and intensity, and the songs were constant reminders to me of God’s love, His presence, and His power.
If worship music isn’t your thing, I would still highly recommend you turn on some kind of soothing music. The music will help you relax and will give you something positive to focus on.
I realize not all my readers are Christian women, and that’s okay! But I would be lying to you if I didn’t include my #1 source of strength during labor and delivery – prayer and Scripture.
I prayed constantly while I labored, especially during the transition phase when I felt like giving up. I prayed for God’s supernatural strength, and each time I did, I felt my body being fortified.
Here are a few of the Scriptures I meditated on during labor:
- Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
- Isaiah 40:29 – He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
- 2 Corinthians 12:9 – My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
- Psalms 139:13 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I used this verse in two ways:1) To think about how God designed my body to give birth. That brought me comfort knowing that my body was doing what it was created to do.2) To think about how God had formed my baby’s body inside my womb. Meditating on this fact helped me appreciate the miracle inside me and kept my focus on bringing that life into this world, rather than on the pain.
- Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.
Levon was an awesome labor coach, and he spent hours massaging whatever part of my body I told him to do. The best areas to massage are going to be different for everyone – they were even different for me for each baby.
During my first labor, I liked my entire back being massaged. The second time, I didn’t like that at all. I got the most relief from him rubbing my neck and head to keep me relaxed during early labor, then my legs and feet during the later stages. I also really liked having him massage the pressure points in my lower back.
The point is, give your coach very specific instructions on what feels best for you, and try a lot of different spots!
Suggested Tool: Homedics Hand Held Mini Massager
One of my best pieces of advice is to change up your positions. Not only will it help give you relief, but it also helps work the baby down through the birth canal.
My favorite positions were leaning over the back of the bed while swaying my hips from side to side, and sitting up cross-legged, pushing down slightly on my knees during each contraction.
But what works best for you may be different. Try lots of different positions, and move once that position stops working for you.
Breathing was a key part of my pain management. Slow, deep breaths helped me relax, and shorter, quicker breaths helped me get through the transition phase when my body wanted to push before it was time. I *highly* recommend you look up different breathing techniques and practice often before the big day!
Suggested Resource: Husband-Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth
The contractions were much more manageable when I focused on keeping my body as relaxed as possible. Tensing with the pain actually makes it worse, so I knew I needed to keep my body relaxed. I had read a tip that if I kept my hands relaxed, the rest of my body would follow, and I found that really helped!
Thinking about working with the contractions
Each time a contraction hit, rather than fighting it, I thought about working with it to move the baby down the birth canal.
During the hardest part of labor with my third, I leaned over the back of the bed and swayed my hips in a figure-8 shape during each contraction. I found that very helpful, and I am positive it helped move things along.
Keeping my eyes on the prize
With each contraction, I would think, “This is one contraction closer to my baby.” Having that mindset helped me get through each one.
Giving myself time goals
This advice came from my doctor during the transition phase that seemed to take for-ev-er with Andrew’s birth. I was having a really hard time not pushing while I worked towards go-time, and she told me, “Focus on the next 20 minutes. You can do anything for 20 minutes. I’ll come back and check on you then.”
Even though I ended up having quite a few “20 minutes,” I found it helped to break up those last few hours into smaller, more achievable, chunks of time.
**NEW** Counter Pressure
This move was a new one for me during my third labor. My midwife and nurses showed it to us, and it was magical!!
Counter pressure is strong, steady pressure applied to each side of the hip during contractions. Basically, someone puts one hand on each hip and squeezes them together.
My husband, midwife, and nurses all took turns applying this pressure, and I couldn’t believe what a difference it made! If you don’t do anything else from this list, do this!
I hope that gives you the extra encouragement and techniques you need to experience the kind of labor and delivery you desire. Feel free to share it with anyone you know who might be considering a natural delivery.
Additional articles & resources:
- Natural Childbirth, My Favorite Resources | Short Sweet Mom
- How to Reduce Pain During Childbirth | Ask Dr. Sears
- Patterned Breathing During Labor | American Pregnancy Association
- Scriptural Encouragement For Preparing & Giving Birth | Passionate Homemaking
- The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth
- 11 Ways to Ease Contractions Without Drugs | Parents
- My Epic List of Tips for a Fabulous Pregnancy
- 8 Things (You Might Be Forgetting) To Stockpile Before Baby
- 7 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Baby
- 10 Keys to a Smoother Transition After a New Baby