I'd first like to give a shout-out to Kelsey Nicole Photography for the amazing newborn photos she took, I love them all SO much! Thank you Kelsey!
I wanted to give birth to Madelyn naturally since my mom and sisters all gave birth without an epidural/pain medication, but I really didn’t prepare myself. With how INTENSE labor is, in my opinion, you gotta have some preparation in order to make it. I read “Hypnobirthing” which helped me get to 6 centimeters before I asked for an epidural but it was a long road even getting that far. All I kept thinking about was how much worse the next contraction would be and I couldn’t relax/save energy between contractions which is KEY. Of course it didn’t help that my labor started with my water breaking which caused my contractions to piggy back and get intense fast. But this time I decided I’d prepare mentally and see how far I could get.
Even though I tried giving up and asked for an epidural right before I started pushing, all of these things really helped me keep pushing through labor/transition, ultimately helping me birth Roslyn without any pain relief!
1. The book “Mindful Birthing” is the #1 reason I was able to do it. This book teaches you how to be in the moment. I learned to focus on my breathing during contractions and completely relax between contractions without thinking about how awful the next one would be. After birth my midwife told me she was impressed with how much I was able to completely relax between my contractions and how that allowed me to save my energy.
2. Having the right support people. In my opinion is really helps having someone there who has given birth naturally, for me that was my mom. She knew exactly what I was feeling and seeing her during labor and knowing she did this FIVE times really helped keep things in perspective. Any time I said “I can’t do this,” she told me I could. Also having Josh, my partner in life, meant so much. Having someone there that truly loves you and whom you love with your whole heart just incompasses you with this feeling of love that can help you get through even the worst contractions.
3. The right support environment. During early labor at home we turned off most of the lights and Josh and I watched “Parks and Recreation” while I bounced on my birthing ball and pounded some Reese’s pumpkins. Then once we got to the hospital we dimmed all the lights in my room. My key was to be surrounded my things I liked to take my mind off of the contractions and create a comfortable enviorment, all of those things are listed below:
Music was a huge factor in helping me. I made a playlist called “Contraction Jams” of all my favorite songs/some relaxing music. I especially loved the music between contractions, it really helped brighten my mood having my favorite songs playing in the background.
Essential oils. I poured some lavender on a washcloth and smelt it during contractions. Lavender has always been one of my favorite smells and I really noticed a difference when I had that over my nose and inhaled it during contractions and when I didn’t. The moment I started smelling it I was able to relax into the contractions so much more.
Warm water. I loved laboring in warm water, although I love being warm in general and I find it relaxing. It felt like I was in a little warm cocoon hugging me and it felt amazing on my lower back.
Massage/pressure points. When I was transitioning and on all fours on my bed, the one thing that helped was my midwife massaging my lower back and putting pressure on my hips. It helped me focus on something other than the contraction. I also loved massage between contractions, it really helped me to continue relaxing.
4. Switching positions once you feel like you’ve reached your limit. Some of my favorite positions was sitting up on my birthing ball, cross legged in the bath tub, on all fours on my bed, and finally sitting up on my bed/leaning forward during the contractions.
5. Having a birth plan that your partner, nurse, and midwife/doctor have all read. Along with that a code word really does help keep the epidural off your mind. For anyone interested in looking at my birth plan or you want my “Contraction Jams” playlist you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send it to you!