five tips for an unmedicated natural birth

1. Go to a birthing class.
I was already a resident physician when I was pregnant with my eldest. Yet, I learned lots in that birthing class that I did not learn during medical school. My husband is not in the medical field either so learning the stages of labor and what pregnant mamas go through was helpful.

The class we went to also offered a book. Keep this book! If you plan on doing a second (or third... or fourth) natural birth, then reread this book. Reread your notes. Keep the handouts with the different relaxation techniques and positions.  I learned about swaying, bouncing on an exercise ball and the breathing patterns of "shh, shh, who..."  Lower back massages are so helpful during a contraction.

2. Have a labor support partner.
This is key! Whether it is your husband, partner, mother, sister, doula. I cannot imagine going through all that pain alone. Make sure that you and your labor support are also on the same page. There has to be a balance from the labor support of "you can do this" and "I am here for you if you change your mind."

My husband and mom were there for my first delivery. Then hubs was there for the other four. He was encouraging but also supportive of changing my birth plan if needed.

3. One contraction at a time.
Labor can be mentally exhausting. Specially if you paid attention to your birthing class and then reread your book during early stage of labor. You then remember that contractions get closer and stronger during the transition phase. This for me was the most painful part.

However, it's best to think of one contraction at a time. In between contractions, close your eyes. Relax. Listen to your labor playlist (if you have one). We played pandora classical music station during my 3rd delivery but those ads in between (sometimes timed during a contraction) were not relaxing. I did not have any music on for my 4th or 5th labor.

There's lots of free apps that can time and record contractions. Ask your labor support partner to time contractions for you. So he/she is onboard with your progress.

4. Offer it up. Eye on the prize.
I just said  take one contraction at a time but here on the next tip - I am asking you to think of the reward. Kissing and cuddling my newborn was definitely a HUGE driving force why I was able to do 5 unmedicated births. I know that there is an end to the pain. That the pain is temporary. It has an expiration time.

I also offered up my pain. I put those painful contractions to something bigger than me. I offered the pain for those children without parents. I offered the contractions for my own children.

5. It's okay to change your mind. 
If you're not doing well; If the labor is a long one;  If the baby is having decelerations -- it's ok to change your mind.  It is not a sign of failure. It is actually a sign of strength. Loving oneself and knowing your limits is a strength.  There are so many battles we deal with as wives and mothers. A natural birth (thanks to modern medicine) is not something we have to face if we do not want to.

For all my pregnant mama friends, good luck! You will soon see your sweet baby. Whether it's a natural or medicated or Caesarian delivery ~ labor and delivery is hard work.

For birth stories~
baby #1
baby #2
baby #3
baby #4 - here's the first part ~ or just skip to the end
baby #5

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