How to Manage Pain During a Drug-Free Labor and Delivery
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I had planned on having an all natural labor. I had done so much research on the side effects of epidurals and, having watched other family members and friends have complications due to the EPI, I knew it wasn’t for me. Even my husband kept telling me that I should get it. He reminded me about how much pregnancy was going to hurt and told me that it's okay if I decided to get an EPI. My plan was to do everything I could to have a natural birth.
Well, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect labor story. Everyone was telling me that I shouldn’t even bother with a birth plan because it would not at all go as planned, but I knew that as long as I wasn’t induced, I could do it.
Here are my tips on how to get through a natural and drug free labor and delivery. Here is how I personally got through the most painful, but most rewarding experience in my life. I wouldn’t change anything that happened.
How to Manage Pain During Labor and Delivery
- Think positive thoughts.
- Be in a good environment.
- Remember that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Squat it out!
- Breathe and relax.
- Receive support and massages.
- Manage your contractions and breaks.
1. Positive Thoughts
You can do it! Thinking positive thoughts and telling myself that it would all go well, and that an EPI was not even an option, helped me out tremendously during labor. I knew my body was made to do this. Women have been giving birth naturally since forever, so I could too!
I knew I wanted to labor at home for as long as I could before going to the hospital. Now, for some, this isn’t an option. If you must give birth in a hospital, you can bring things with you to make your hospital stay more relaxing and homey. Being in a place that I felt comfortable was the best decision. I could walk around naked. I could shower. I could do what I needed to do. When you’re in the hospital, sometimes it's hard to get that feeling. Have them dim the lights, turn on the tv, talk to you, or shut up. Pick your poison. For me, I wanted to be left alone. Don’t touch me. Don’t talk to me. You should always make your surroundings comfortable for you.
3. Light at the End of the Tunnel
I knew that as long as my labor kept progressing, the end was near. I kept telling myself that it would be over before I knew it. Soon it would be just a memory. With each contraction, I was that much closer to the end. I knew that if I got the EPI, there would be a huge possibility that labor would not progress as quickly, could stop entirely, or even go in reverse. This is not what I wanted. This is not what any woman would want.
4. Squat It Out
While I was laboring at home, I sat on my yoga ball moving my hips around to help open up my pelvis. this helps to push the baby further into the birth canal. This helped to keep everything progressing smoothly.
5. Breathe and Relax
In the movies, you always see women breathing heavily. While this doesn’t help the pain, it does help to keep you relaxed. Instead of breathing quickly, I made sure to take deep breaths in and out. Staying relaxed was key to keeping everything open and moving forward.
6. Support and Massages
I wouldn’t have made it without the support of my husband, my mother, and my hospital team. My husband was right by my side throughout the whole process, digging his hands into my back to help relieve the pain. One thing we forgot to buy was a tennis ball. Make sure you buy one, just in case you labor on your back.
7. Contraction Time and Breaks
Knowing that the contraction was at its peak, and was now coming down, helped a ton. I knew that the worst was over and that soon I would feel better and get a break.
Once I got the green light to start pushing, the contractions no longer hurt. My focus was now on pushing as a hard as I could to get that baby out fast. Although, I have to say, the worst part was the crowning. Soon, as I gave another good push, there was a loud "Pop!" and out came the baby’s head. Before I knew it, the body followed. Not long after, she was on my chest and it was all over. My contractions were back to being mild and my body helped me get rid of the placenta.
My Labor Story
My daughter was born almost two weeks before her due date. (I am pretty sure the stress of planning my stepdaughter’s 10th birthday party is what induced me.) I started having contractions about a week or so before I went into active labor. They were sporadic and mild, just like menstrual cramps. I went in for my next doctor’s appointment and let my OB know I was having mild contractions. She checked to see if I was dilated at all and, yes, I was one centimeter dilated.
The contractions were working! Now, because I still could have days or weeks left to go, this didn’t mean much. This is what I had told my husband and both of our mothers. However, at that appointment they found protein in my urine and, since I was so close to the end of the pregnancy, there was a big possibility they would have to induce me. Still, they wanted to double check the results, so the next day I did blood work and was given a jug to pee into for a full 24 hour period. (Yay! Lucky me.)
That evening my contractions started coming every seven minutes and were a lot stronger. I was so excited that she was on her way and hoped things would progress quickly. We went about our evening normally. We went on a walk to try to help things move along, we had dinner, and, eventually, I fell asleep on the couch. Around 10 P.M., I was awakened by much stronger contractions that were now coming every five minutes. I performed every action that I read, watched, and learned about in order to help ease the pain and keep things moving. I let my husband sleep as I started the journey to our new beginning.
Unfortunately, I had terrible back labor. It felt like someone stabbing me in the back every time I had a contraction. Sometimes I would have the pain in the front and in the back. Not only did I have back labor, but I was also nauseous. I had heard that if you had morning sickness in the beginning, which I did, then you most likely would get nauseous during labor. (Awesome.) I don’t think it helped that I had eaten a huge dinner that night.
For an hour, I had contractions that I could not talk through (let along count how long they lasted, or how far apart they were.) I woke up my husband to let him know it was “time.” We called the hospital and they said I could wait or come in. It was up to me. The last thing we wanted was for me to get there and only be a couple centimeters dilated so we waited another hour. Around 3 A.M., I said, “lets go,” and we headed to the hospital. I was six centimeters dilated! We were both excited that I was already halfway there.
They then brought us to the delivery room, and admitted me. Labor progressed quickly. My water finally broke at nine centimeters, and an hour later, at 9:15 A.M., I started pushing. About a dozen pushes later, at 10:18 A.M., my little princess was born.
Listen to Your Body During Labor
Of course, there are cases where things do not go as perfectly. Make sure you listen to your body and do what is safest for you and your baby. Don't be hard on yourself if you give into medication or end up with a cesarean. The most important thing is keeping you and your baby safe.
That being said, this is what I experienced and what helped me. If you keep telling yourself you can do it and you surround yourself with supportive people, I know you can do it too! It's mind over body, so stay calm and let your body do what it was made to do. Labor is natural. Contractions are your body's way of helping you push that baby out. You are woman! You are mama! Relax. You can do it! It's worth it in the end, I promise.