Transcript episode #2:
Giving Birth Without Medication In The Hospital
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On today's episode, I'm going to share nine things you'll want to know about having an unmedicated birth in the hospital. Welcome to the All About Pregnancy and Birth podcast. I'm Dr Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified Ob/Gyn physician and a certified integrative health coach. Every week I break down topics, share birth stories, or interview experts to help you have your very best pregnancy. Quick note, information is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. You can see the full disclaimer at ncrcoaching.com/disclaimer.
Well hello there. So glad to have you here today. If you are even thinking about having an unmedicated birth in the hospital, then you definitely want to listen to today's episode. It's nine things you'll want to know about an unmedicated birth, with a focus on doing this in the hospital. Now, you may also know this as natural birth, but all birth is actually natural no matter how a baby is born, so I refer to birth without medication as unmedicated as opposed to natural birth.
Okay, now, before I get to those nine things, I've got to tell you about an awesome giveaway I'm sponsoring to celebrate the launch of the podcast. I'm giving away three spots and my online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course. The Birth Preparation Course is a comprehensive course that will leave you feeling knowledgeable about your options and the process of birth, prepared to deal with any possibilities that may arise, competent in yourself and in your choices for your birth, and empowered to advocate for the birth experience that you desire. There are over eight hours of content in The Birth Preparation Course, and that content covers everything from getting in the right mindset for your birth to the details of labor, to how to make your birth wishes, to what happens in the postpartum period and everything in between. There's also a bonus lesson on unmedicated hospital birth that goes into extensive detail on how to have your best experience having an unmedicated birth in the hospital. Everything in the courses online so you can go through the material on your own time and at your own pace.
There's also a private course community that is run by an experienced Doula and in this course community you'll get support from other pregnant women. I'm in the group as well doing regular Q and A sessions and last but not least, you get lifetime access to the course. The Birth Preparation Course is easily valued at $400, but all you have to do to enter is go to ncrcoaching.com/giveaway. Again, that's ncrcoaching.com/giveaway and that link will be in the show notes.
All right, let's get to the show. So the first thing I want to tell you about having an unmedicated birth in the hospital and it's really more of a question that you need to ask yourself, is what is your motivation for having an unmedicated birth? Do you want an unmedicated birth because it seems like a more popular thing to do? Do you have beliefs about women who don't use pain medication in labor like that they're stronger? Or do you have beliefs about women who do use pain medication in labor like that they're somehow weaker? Is your decision being influenced by the people around you, like your mother or your sister or a friend saying that you shouldn't get an epidural. Listen, here's the thing, having an unmedicated birth is your decision to make and your decision to make only. Now, although you you'll definitely seek the opinion of others, it is ultimately your choice. so don't let a blog or a friend or an Instagram post make that decision for you. Also, you want to understand that your strength is not determined by how you manage pain in labor, so don't do this because you think it's necessarily a testament to your strength. You are strong regardless of how you choose to manage pain in labor.
All right, number two is another question and that is what is your level of commitment to having an unmedicated birth? Do you mean that you want an unmedicated birth as long as it's not too difficult? Do you want to, you know, just kind of play it by ear and see how things go, or do you mean that you are ready to dig deep? Give everything in your being and scrape the bottom of your soul in order to have an unmedicated birth? Now, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. The point of this question is that your level of commitment becomes important if your labor gets tough and you don't know what your labor will be like until you get there. Now, if you're a labor gets tough, will you be okay with getting an epidural? Or, will you need your support people to help you push through those really tough parts because it's so important to you to have an unmedicated birth. So just think about it again. There's no right or wrong answer. Just think about it and decide what you want to do, what your level of commitment is, and then let your support people know so that they can assist you accordingly when the time comes.
All right, number three, unmedicated birth requires preparation. Now, the level of preparation varies, but I do think you need to do something to prepare for an unmedicated birth. You may decide that you want to read a couple of books. I know Ina Gaskins book is a popular book. I also really like Birthing from Within. You may decide that you want to watch a few YouTube videos and get an idea of what unmedicated birth looks like or you may go all in and take a class that is specifically for unmedicated birth. You have to do what you believe will work best for you, but know that you do need to do something to prepare. If you don't prepare, the pain can quickly become overwhelming and when you're in the hospital if that pain gets to be overwhelming, it's easy to ask for medication. So if you want to give birth without medication, do something to prepare.
Number four, stay at home as long as possible. Your contractions should be five minutes apart or less and all strong enough that you're having to work to manage them. You're having to really breathe through them, they're taking your breath away, really strong contractions. And they need to be at that level for ideally at least two hours before you go to the hospital. It can be even longer than that if you live fairly close to the hospital. And if your contractions are sometimes five minutes apart and sometimes they are eight minutes apart, it is not time for you to go to the hospital. If your contractions are sometimes strong and sometimes not, it is not time for you to go to the hospital.
If you go to the hospital too early, you may get sent home, which is actually a good thing if you're planning an unmedicated birth or, you may be offered interventions like pitocin or breaking your water in order to get things going. You may also be offered pain medication. Now pitocin or breaking your water pain medication, those things are not inherently bad, but if you want an unmedicated birth, then you generally want to limit interventions. So, to have the best chance of having labor unfold on its own with minimal intervention, stay at home as long as you can. You'll also just be more comfortable at home. Now you may worry like, Oh, if I stay home too late, am I going to, you know, have my baby at home or in the car? That is not likely to happen. The average active labor is about eight hours and if it's going to be a lot shorter than that, the intensity will ramp up fast and your body will say, hey, hey, hey, stuff is going on, it is time to go to the hospital. So you are not likely to have your baby at home or in the car if you stay at home and good, consistent, strong labor for at least two hours and potentially longer. If you do that, then by the time you get to the hospital, you should be a good solid five to six centimeters or even more. Now, if you have a Doula, she can be a great resource to help you with this. If she's had experience, than she knows what a laboring woman looks like and she can come to your home and give you an idea of whether or not it's time to go in.
Number five. Number five is don't fight pain in labor, surrender to it. Now, this can be challenging, because pain is usually a sign in our bodies that something is wrong, so it's really counter intuitive to not fight pain, but it is oh, so important that you don't fight pain during labor. See what happens is when you're fighting contractions, you're thinking that they're bad and all you want is for the contractions to stop. Each contraction can bring on a sense of panic and dread and this leads to tension and more pain and that can then amplify that sense of dread and panic with the next contraction and you get stuck in this awful cycle. You can get overwhelmed and then you start looking for escape routes and escape routes in the hospital, that's going to mean medications or an epidural. Now, let's contrast that with what happens when you surrender to the pain.
When you surrender to your contractions, you recognize that pain is not the enemy. It has a purpose, and that purpose is to open your body and birth your baby. You understand that the pain is not permanent. You know that it is not damaging your body, even if it is intense and you're able to flow with the pain. You're able to accept support to help you cope with the pain and you find a good rhythm. Doing that will actually decrease the perception of pain, so don't fight the contractions. Surrender to them.
Number six is related to number five, and that is approach labor one contraction at a time. When you surrender to labor, you take it one contraction at a time. You don't think about how much labor is left or how long it's going to take. You get through one contraction and then the next contraction, and then the next contraction, realizing that each one of those contractions is bringing you closer and closer to meeting your baby.
Number seven, you want to request a nurse who has experience caring for women who want an unmedicated birth. Now, your nurse is the one who's with you during the majority of your labor, not your doctor. And having a nurse who's experienced or at least has a desire to care for women who have an unmedicated birth. That can make a huge difference in your birth. It may surprise you that not all nurses are as comfortable caring for women who want an unmedicated birth, so you definitely want to ask. If you can have a good nurse, she'll help you try different techniques to cope with the contractions, like moving, walking, the birthing ball, different positions, getting in the shower. She'll be there to support you during the difficult parts and she can advocate for you if needed. For example, if your doctor comes in saying, well, maybe you should just get an epidural. Then your nurse can be the one to say, you know what? She's doing great. She's managing these contractions fine. She's making great progress and then advocating for you so you don't end up doing something that you didn't necessarily want to do. So definitely ask for a nurse who has experience or at least enjoys caring for women who want an unmedicated birth.
Number eight is politely request that no one offers you pain medicine. You want to be the one who is in control of the decision to accept pain medicine, not your doctor or your nurse, so kindly let the people caring for you know that you will ask for pain medicine if you need it.
And then number nine is if you change your mind and you decide to use pain medication, that is ok, there is absolutely nothing wrong if you change and decide to do something different, you're not a failure. You are not weak. You have grown a human being inside your body for goodness sakes, and that is pretty freaking spectacular. How you manage your labor pain does not take away from the beauty of having a baby, doesn't take away from your strength. Doesn't make you a failure. Doesn't make you weak. So if you decide that you want pain medication or an epidural, it is perfectly okay.
Okay, so to recap, here are the nine things you'll want to consider if you plan to have an unmedicated birth in the hospital. Number one, what is your motivation for having an unmedicated birth? You want to be sure that you are doing it because it is something that you want to do. Number two, what is your level of commitment to having an unmedicated birth? Number three, unmedicated birth requires preparation. Number four, stay at home as long as possible. Number five, don't fight pain and labor. Surrender to it. Number six, approach labor one contraction at a time. Number seven, request a nurse who has experience caring for women who want an unmedicated birth. Number eight, politely request that no one offers you pain medicine, and then the final one, if you change your mind and decide to use pain medicine, that is ok. Well, that's it.
Thank you so much for being here. I hope you found this helpful. Now, often times, if you plan an unmedicated birth, you're thinking about making a birth plan. I have a great free one hour mini course on how to make your birth plan in addition to general information on making a birth plan. It also contains some information specifically for women who want an unmedicated birth, so you definitely want to check it out. You can go to ncrcoaching.com/birthplan, and that link is in the show notes. And be sure to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts, and if you feel so inclined I'd really appreciate you leaving an honest review. And of course, do not forget about the giveaway. Enter to win a spot in The Birth Preparation Course. Go to ncrcoaching.com/giveaway. That's ncrcoaching.com/giveaway. That link is in the show notes. Okay, that's it for this episode. Until next time, I wish you a healthy and happy pregnancy and birth.
Today's episode is brought to you by Women's Wellness Coaching by Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins. Head to ncrcoaching.com to check out my free one hour mini course on how to make your birth plan as well as my comprehensive online childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course, with over eight hours of content and a private course community. The Birth Preparation Course will leave you knowledgeable, prepared, confident, and empowered going into your birth. Head to ncrcoaching.com to learn more.