The Power of Natural Childbirth: Unmedicated Birth Stories

So you like giving birth naturally…. Now what?

Pregnancy Programs BRM

So you’re hoping for an unmedicated ‘natural’ birth and you’re googling to try to figure out the best way to prepare. If you do not have a lot of friends and family who have given birth in this way it can seem mysterious and daunting. We live in a culture that tends to have a lot of medically managed childbirths and going against the mainstream can feel like a challenge. 

Yet, there is a reason that you’ve had this desire placed on your heart and we believe that one of the best ways to plan for an unmedicated childbirth is to learn what it can look like. Childbirth, especially unmedicated, or “physiological birth,” isn’t something that our society has a lot of awareness about. What does it even mean?  

A lot of people use the term “natural” to refer to unmedicated birth stories. The terms are often interchangeable and usually mean a spontaneous, vaginal delivery without the use of pain medications…

Understanding Unmedicated and Physiological Birth

When we talk about birth, it’s important to understand the nuances between different terms and approaches. Let’s break down two key concepts: unmedicated birth and physiological birth.

Unmedicated Birth:

The term “unmedicated” often refers to births without pain medication, particularly epidurals. However, it’s crucial to note that this doesn’t always mean completely free from all medical interventions. For instance, someone might have an “unmedicated” birth but still receive antibiotics for Group B Strep or synthetic oxytocin (pitocin) after delivery to prevent postpartum hemorrhage. These interventions are a choice and can be vital for the health and safety of both the birthing person and the baby.

Physiological Birth:

Physiological birth, on the other hand, refers to a birth process that’s powered entirely by our own innate capacities. It’s a birth that unfolds naturally, guided by the body’s own hormones and rhythms, without any interventions that might disrupt this delicate process. True physiological birth is often described as “undisturbed birth.”

It’s important to note that while physiological birth can happen in any setting, it can be more challenging to achieve in highly medicalized environments like hospitals. This is because our physiological processes are deeply influenced by our surroundings, and the typical hospital environment, with its bright lights, unfamiliar sounds, and frequent interruptions, isn’t always conducive to undisturbed birth.

However, this doesn’t mean that hospital births can’t be beautiful, empowering experiences and can’t be supported by a physiologically informed professional. Many hospitals are working to create more supportive environments for physiological birth, and with the right support team, you can have a positive birth experience in any setting.

Remember, there’s no one “right” way to give birth. The goal is for you to feel informed, supported, and empowered in your choices, whether that involves medication, interventions, or striving for an undisturbed physiological birth. Your birth, your choices, and positive birth stories are possible no matter your choice, but you can increase your chances of a positive birth story by preparing your body and mind intentionally 

Now let’s hear Skylar and Gabby’s stories!

Natural Childbirth

Skyler Has a Beautiful Birth Center Birth

I have been fortunate enough to have two successful unmedicated water births so far. However, there’s a big difference between my first and second births. 

I prepared for birth number two with the Body Ready Programs from BRM®. I was so much more calm, as a result, when I went into labor and more comfortable trusting my intuition. Not only was my second birth so empowering but I also didn’t tear like I did with my first birth! And both kiddos were almost 9 lbs.

I went into labor around 8am in the morning.

My contractions were painless but consistent. I was able to move around and be comfortable. 

Between 8am and 2pm I took two naps. In between the naps I worked through some BRM moves to encourage my inlet to open. I also worked hard to stay well-fed and hydrated. 

Around 2pm, my contractions got more intense but they were spacing out and becoming a little inconsistent. I intuitively knew I needed lots of asymmetrical movements to help the baby through the mid-pelvis. 

After a quick reset of my flow, my contractions evened out and I felt like we needed to head to the birth center. 

I arrived at about 5cm, -2 station, and 80% effaced. After getting settled into the room, labor progressed quickly. I got into the tub and the baby was born an hour and a half after we arrived!

Natural Childbirth

Photo credit: Sweet&Simple Photography

Gabby Prepares For A Home Waterbirth

Going into my fourth pregnancy, I knew I wanted to prepare my body to have the strength and mobility for an easier pregnancy and labor. In my third pregnancy, I had uncomfortable pelvic floor heaviness and ended up having a prolapse after the birth. To not experience that again, I was motivated to keep up with my weekly Body Ready Method (BRM®) prenatal exercise videos. As a result, I felt stronger and had minimal aches and pains. I did experience some SPD pain in my third trimester but BRM® gave me tools to manage it.

It was a Sunday afternoon when I started to experience contractions. They were consistent but still 10 to 15 minutes apart through the night. I had a long break from 4 pm to 8 pm and when I nursed my almost two-year-old before bed, the contractions came back. They were stronger than the crampy ones the day before, but light enough that I was able to lay in bed all night and breathe through them. I also tried to sleep in between them, but was again very tired the next day. 

At 4 am, I came downstairs to eat something. I had a surprisingly good appetite throughout early and active labor. 

Between 4 and 5 am, I only had two contractions but when my husband woke up for work, I asked him to stay home because I didn’t know what the day would bring.

Contractions continued to be spaced out but I also started losing my mucus plug so I knew the whole night was not in vain. 

Throughout the morning contractions were very inconsistent in spacing and in feeling. At times they were every 8 min and other times I had none at all in a whole hour. Some were crampy but a handful were very strong. It threw me off not having consistency but I tried to keep my mental space clear and at peace with whatever was to come.

My husband took the kids to the library, the park and his parents after lunch and I moved around the house, putting dishes away and picking up a little.

At 1:30 pm, I laid down to take a nap and had one very strong contraction that made me get up on my hands and knees. There was lots of movement from the baby. I started to feel nauseous, hot sweats and “different”. At 2:30 pm, I called my midwife for the first time to give her the update. My mom even came over to quickly pick up the house again and left to give me space, bless her!! My husband left the kids with his parents and came home to fill the birth pool just in case. 

All of my labors have been so different, so I really didn’t know when to tell the midwife to come. I wasn’t sure if it would be hours or another day of inconsistency. I told her I’d give her an update in 30 min. 

Contractions came back every 5 min for an hour, strong enough to not be able to talk through them, but then they spaced out again. I was having more pelvic floor heaviness while walking and felt more “inward”. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I told my midwife, at the next update, that overall I felt I switched to active labor but who knows how long it would be before transitioning to the next stage. My last labor with my third, the active labor was very short. But with my first and second baby, it was longer. 

During that time, I moved up and down the stairs, did side bend lunges, and walked through contractions. I did releases for the pelvic floor, psoas and QL muscles and labored on hand and knees. I was opening up different levels of the pelvis. All things I learned from Body Ready – so thankful for that!

At 4 pm, I did a forward leaning inversion through two contractions to see if I could release some uterine ligament tension in case that was making contractions inconsistent. Things picked up quickly after that! 

At 5 pm, I texted my midwife, photographer and mom and told them to head to my house. I was in transition for the next 50 minutes. The birth assistant arrived around 5:30 and started getting her supplies ready.

I paced around the kitchen and house, pretty vocal during contractions. They were pretty much back-to-back by now. I tried to keep my voice low and my body loose so I wouldn’t tighten up and make things more painful. I definitely had to get louder at certain points.

Eventually, I got into the tub and needed to push with the first contraction! All of my births, except for my first, I have been very primal during pushing. This was no different! In the tub I was on my knees with my feet rotated out wider than my hips to open the outlet and that helped tremendously. 

The midwife was on her way but hadn’t arrived yet. We were on speaker phone as I pushed the baby’s head out in two contractions. After that, there was so much relief and clarity! I was able to relax and wait for the next contraction to push the baby’s body out.

I brought the baby up to my chest as we heard her little cries and listened to her healthy heartbeat. 

My recovery was great this time around. I started right away in the first week with the BRM postpartum videos slowly moving in bed. It helped to release tension from minimal sleep and long hours of breastfeeding. It was great to slowly get back into movement, breathing into and strengthening my recovering body during the first 40 days. 

Common Themes In Unmedicated Birth Stories

A few common themes emerge when you start reading a lot of positive natural birth stories:

Preparation

Readying the body for the very specific tasks needed for birth is vital. These birthing families used a birth preparation exercise program to not only make sure their bodies were ready for birth but were primed for an easier, healthier physical recovery. It’s clear that in both birth stories the preparation made a profound difference between the present birth and the previous births. It also helps build their confidence – something SO essential for unmedicated birth and the ability to enter into what we call the Labor Flow State. 

Comfort Plan

Having a clear idea of what tools would bring comfort and then utilizing those in labor is also common in positive unmedicated birth stories. In these stories both women used water. Water has an excellent reputation for relaxing the body and easing some of the discomfort of birthing. There are even some who call laboring in water the “aquadural” because so many people are able to get deeply relaxed in water. 

Make Space

Both women who shared their stories here had and used specific positions and movements to find comfort and create space for the baby in the pelvis. Learning how to make space in the pelvis to help the baby through is a valuable skill that can shave hours off of birthing, make it more comfortable and give the birthing person some control over their birth progress. This is something we should prepare and practice in pregnancy. You want the movements to be so innate you just ‘go there’ during birth without even thinking about it.

Confidence

A belief in our ability to birth safely and in our ability to navigate the challenges of birth is another key theme in unmedicated birth stories. If you don’t think you can birth without the assistance of pain meds it’s unlikely that you will. You’ll find it easier to be confident if you are well prepared for birth’s challenges and have a clear plan for how you’ll manage. 

Yes, unmedicated births will involve strong sensations that take all of your attention. They can offer the advantage of greater mobility and flexibility during labor. Moving during labor can help birth progress. Preparation, comfort strategies, creating space in the pelvis, and maintaining confidence are key elements in achieving positive unmedicated birth experiences. 

Through the inspiring stories of Skyler and Gabby, we witness the transformative power of preparation, resilience, and trust in one’s body. These narratives offer valuable insights into navigating the journey of childbirth with courage and empowerment. Whether in a birth center or at home, each story exemplifies the strength and beauty inherent in the birthing process and the personal pride and satisfaction it can bring.

Frequently Asked Questions
1. What exactly is considered a natural, unmedicated birth?

While the exact definition of these terms may change subtly for individuals, many people mean a birth that begins spontaneously, does not use pain medication and ends with a vaginal delivery. Others may mean no use of medication at all. Most commonly people simply mean a vaginal birth without an epidural. Physiological birth refers to truly undisturbed birth powered by the birther’s innate capacity. But again, different people will have different definitions.

2. How can I prepare physically for an unmedicated birth?

Preparing for an unmedicated birth involves physical readiness through exercises like prenatal yoga, along with creating a birth plan to outline preferences. Having a supportive birth team, such as a partner or doula, is crucial for encouragement and advocacy during labor. It’s essential to maintain flexibility and adaptability, understanding that circumstances may change, and interventions may become necessary while still aiming for a natural birth. The Body Ready Programs use the Body Ready Method® to intentionally prepare your body and mind for your best possible birth experience.

3. How does the presence of a doula impact the natural birth experience?

The presence of a doula can significantly impact the natural birth experience by providing continuous physical and emotional support throughout labor. They offer comfort measures, guidance on positioning and relaxation techniques, and advocacy for the birthing person’s preferences. Their expertise can reduce the need for medical interventions, increase feelings of empowerment, and improve overall satisfaction with the birthing process making an unmedicated birth much more achievable.

4. How do I deal with pain during an unmedicated labor and delivery?

To deal with the pain during labor, you first have to create a plan for yourself that includes all of the tools you’ll be using to find comfort during labor. The plan might include positions that help create space for the baby to move more easily through the pelvis, physical tools like birth balls and massage tools, and strategies that bring comfort like getting into the shower or wrapping up in a warm blanket or slow dancing with your partner. In pregnancy, practice, over and over, how to quickly get deeply physically relaxed. Practice slow and steady breathing at the same time and in labor, when you experience a contract, use a tool or technique you know brings you comfort, moderate your breathing and allow all of the muscles in your body to release tension. If you’d like some help with this intentional preparation, Body Ready Birth is designed to guide you through, and will also teach your partner hands on comfort techniques to help!

5. What are the benefits of choosing a natural, unmedicated birth?

Firstly, it allows for more freedom of movement during labor, which can aid in the smoother progress of labor and positioning of the baby, which can and will impact trauma and injuries often associated with the process. Additionally, it empowers the birthing person to fully experience the sensations of labor and childbirth without the potential pitfalls of pain medication such as uneven coverage, disassociation from the experience, or the stress of enduring medical procedures. Unmedicated birth can also promote a quicker recovery postpartum and may reduce the likelihood of additional interventions (sometimes known as “the cascade of interventions) during labor such as pitocin and cesarean. Finally, it can foster a deeper connection between the birthing person and their body/mind/spirit, enhancing the overall birthing experience and leaving the birthing person with a feeling of empowerment that can be so powerful going into that parenting journey.

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