Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

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The Best Prep for a Non-Medicated Birth April 15, 2008

Many women desire to give birth without pain medication, or at least with as few heavy medications as possible.  How do you prepare yourself for that challenge?  What makes the difference between a woman who throws out her birth plan and gets that epidural and the one who manages her pain in the way she had hoped? 

For one, you have to realize that women feel contractions differently.  Some experience contractions as extremely painful, but others just feel tightness or almost nothing at all.  My friend Chihiro said she couldn’t even tell when she was contracting with her first baby, but with the second she experienced intense pain.  Prepare yourself by keeping an open mind to how easy or difficult the actual experience may be for you.  It’s completely unpredictable.

That said, countless women who experience intense pain during labor do manage to forgo medicating.  Now, I realize that a non-medicated birth isn’t for everyone, but if this is one of your goals here are some tips:

  1. Limit your exposure to medication opportunities.  Really.  If you don’t want to take drugs, try to avoid having them offered to you.  When you enter the labor room, personally tell the nurse that you prefer she NOT offer you medication.  Ask your birth partner to keep new nurses updated.  I heard of one woman who hung a “Don’t Offer Me Medication” sign on her labor room door.  Hey, it’s easier if you don’t have to say “no”.  If you really, consciously change your mind, I bet you’ll find the words to ask for that medication!
  2. Train your mind to think of birth positively.  Birth is an opportunity to bond with your mate, work hard for something worthwhile, experience the thrilling joy of success hard-won, and embrace that new baby for the first time.  Read LOTS of natural birth stories!  This is the most enjoyable and probably the most effective way to prepare for a natural, non-medicated birth.  Each time you expose yourself to stories of women who experienced birth like you desire, you set yourself up to approach birth with a positive, confident attitude. 
  3. Prepare to be flexible.   Your birth will probably NOT go exactly as planned.  Maybe your contractions will stop temporarily. Maybe your doula will not make it.  Maybe your labor will drag on for over 24 hours.  Maybe you’ll go from 2 to 10 centimeters in an hour – who knows!!!  It’s great to have a plan, but be prepared to throw it out the window.  Spend some time imagining very different possibilities and how you would like to react.  No matter what happens, you can have a fulfilling birth experience if you keep your perspective positive and take control of your choices.  In birth you are not the victim or the patient, you are the mom.
  4. Gain access to alternative pain management options.  If you’re saying “no” to drugs, say “yes” to something else! Read, talk to other moms about what worked for them, and arrange for the services of a midwife or doula.  There is a rich culture of birthing aids from warm water to massage to visualizations that can make a huge difference in your perception of pain during labor.  Your labor nurse is very unlikely to be of help in this area.  You’ve got to proactively plan ahead to arm yourself with safe, effective labor tools.  Again, reading positive natural birth stories is an excellent way to fill your mind with pain management ideas. 

Bottom line: managing pain is 90% mental.  The difference between achieving your goal to birth without drugs and making a decision to medicate that you may regret is usually how prepared you are mentally.  Know that you can do this.  Focus on the positives and let every contraction bring you closer to holding that baby in your arms.

One great classic full of positive birth stories is Ina May Gaskin’s “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth”.  You can also find a rich resource of birth stories at Mothering.com

Many blessings!

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Who will witness your baby’s birth? December 3, 2007

Filed under: Pregnancy — Rachel @ 7:53 pm
Tags: , , , ,

You’ve made a birth plan, you’ve packed your hospital bag (or set aside a stash of supplies for your home birth), but are you still a little fuzzy on who you’d like present at your baby’s birth?  This is a very personal decision, and one that doesn’t necesarilly lend itself to the receiving of advice.  I had a very hard time deciding with both my babies who to include. Perhaps this will get you thinking… 

If one of your goals is to have a natural birth, it’s especially important that those who accompany you in the labor room play a supportive, encouraging role.  I loved this quote in the latest edition of Fit Pregnancy, “For the best possible delivery, surround yourself with people who understand that giving birth is a heroic, if painful, act that benefits those who embrace its challenge.”  Isn’t that beautiful!  Think carefully before including loved ones that are critical of your birth choices.  On birth day, you simply won’t have enough emotional energy to deal with nay-sayers.  You want to see excitement and hope in the eyes of your attendents, never pitty or fear.

You will almost certainly be including your mate, but what about sisters, mothers, and friends?  Don’t feel obligated to invite family members.  Your first priority must be giving birth, not the feelings of others.  That said, if you are close to your sister (and especially if she’s given birth before) or your mother, their presence will probably enhance that special day.  My mother was a very important member of my birth team when I birthed my firstborn.  During the times that I felt hopeless and scared, looking into her face gave me strength.  There is something powerful about being supported in birth by the very one who birthed you.     

When I read of births in which mothers were attended by excited, joyful friends, I love it, love it, love it!  But in planning my own birth, I felt odd inviting friends.  For my second birth I did get up the gumption to invite a close friend who shared my own vision of birth.  Technically she was there to watch my toddler, but she also was meant to share the actual birth.  During my labor, it was fun having her there.  It made that night more like a celebration, less serious and more exciting.  When I was actually giving birth, I barely noticed her presence because I was so focused on the task at hand.  If I was to do it again, I’d invite more friends and make the labor itself more of a party!

Don’t skip a doula!!!  If you can arrange for it, do look into having a doula attend your birth.  There’s nothing like it!  Having a doula around at my second birth took the pressure off my husband to know how to comfort me.  She helped him with suggestions and did so much to help me herself.   I would never go without a doula again!

Many blessings on your special day!

 

    

 

Fun, Inspirational Read for “Labor Day” September 4, 2007

Filed under: Pregnancy — Rachel @ 3:17 pm
Tags: , ,

Let’s face it, many of you are pretty nervous about “labor day” – you know the one when you have to push that baby OUT!!!  It’s coming, it’s inevitable, so why not try to get psyched up with a “can do” attitude?  People love to share horror stories about births, but that’s really counter-productive.  Instead, you should try to nurture a positive attitude about your ability to give birth successfully.  After all, studies have shown that any fear you bring to your labor will make it that much harder.  Hormones produced by fear actually cause your body to tense up, making it difficult to dilate naturally.  Focus on the fact that your body is designed to give birth – you can do this! 

I love how most pregnancy magazines have a birth story column that shares birth experiences with regular, happy outcomes.  Along the same lines, I think all pregnant women in need of a labor “boost” should read Peggy Vincent’s “Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife.”  This fun, lighthearted book is chock-full with Peggy’s experiences delivering babies in Berkeley, California, including 40 birth stores from a wide-range of diverse, interesting women.  It’s the perfect prelude to your own labor, sure to leave you with realistic expectations for your own birth and some inspiration too.  If they can do it, so can you!