Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Au Naturale

Word on the street is that you wanna do this labor gig "au naturale"? No pain meds?

I say, "way to go"!!

I am here to help ya, sister!!

Here's my tips, take 'em, leave 'em, laugh at 'em, do whatever you want with 'em (just, please, don't tell me if you laugh, 'kay? I'm kinda sensitive!!)!

1. Make sure your labor partner is on board...this is first and foremost!!! If your #1 person's not gonna support you, you are in mucho trouble, my friend. It's hard doing this with a supportive person, I can't imagine doing it without (unless, of course, you have a fantabulous nurse...but, alas, even she will be pulled away at times...I'm sorry...).

2. Hire a doula...a good one! Ask around, get referrals, meet with and interview a few. Find your fit...this woman will be with you for one of the most intimate, amazing times in your life...LOVE her. Don't just like her.

3. Write a birth plan...but keep in mind, birth plans should be open to change, realistic, and personal (no just clicking on random boxes), and you should be knowledgeable with it! Can't tell you the number of times I've taken the time to thoroughly read a birth plan, only to go discuss it with the mother and hear, "Oh, yeah...well, I'm not really sure about that." Really? 'Cuz you planned it and signed it, you should know about it more than me...just sayin'.

4. When labor starts, stay home for as long as possible (unless of course, you are bleeding, your water breaks--and especially if this water is a funky color or smell, you are concerned with baby's movements, you have a temp, a headache, weird visual changes). I know it's fun and exciting when you think "this is it!!"...but if you really wanna do this "au naturale" gig, stay in the comfort of your own home...and stay active! Keep in mind, when you check into the hospital, you'll be weighed and vitaled and monitored and asked a series of mundane and weird questions, like "Would you like to discuss your sexuality while you are here?"...seriously...this is a question we ask (at least in my hospital!). Sorry, we just have to!

5. Water is wonderful! Bathe in it, shower with it, drink it, pass it (ummm...that's the old fashioned way to say, "pee" case you were wondering!)...oh, and pass it often!! The more you pee, the more your bladder stays out of the way and allows that sweet munchkin of yours to make it's descent!

6. Not sure if this'll work for you, but it sure worked for me! If you get to the point where you are considering pain meds, make a deal. Try something else for 15 minutes (I do not suggest needle point as your "something else")...birthing ball, rocking chair, "dancing" with your partner, shower, walk, hands and get the picture. Often, just distracting yourself for a bit will help you get through a tough time.

7. Focus. Not on the pain of labor, but something else! Really think about your breathing, find a spot to stare at while you are thinking about breathing...if you are a prayerful person, there's no better time to pray than while in labor! I, personally, found that prayer is a great are thinking about what you are praying, rather than how much that stinkin' contraction hurts, oye!!

8. If you find that you and your nurse aren't seeing, as the patient, have the right to request a new nurse! I know, I know...this sounds scary...but it doesn't have to be. Just ask to speak with the charge nurse, tell her your concerns, and firmly, but gently, request a different nurse. Often times, if you aren't feelin' the love with your nurse, she's probably feeling the same way...and a change might just be best for "all y'all" (can I say that if I'm from the MidWest?).

9. Enjoy this! Remember, that the ultimate goal of childbirth is a healthy mom and a healthy baby. To achieve this goal, sometimes things don't always go as you hope. Even to the seasoned vet, the "multip" as we call 'em, that chance of a c-section is never fully gone...a prolapsed cord, a breech baby...somethings just can't be helped, but we are here to help you!

10. If you do decide to take something for the pain, please, please, please!!! don't feel like a failure. Let me tell you this: First babies are especially grueling...and you can always try again for that unmedicated delivery with #2, when things, typically, go much easier! Labor is the most intense experience you will ever have...and that I promise you! Intensely painful, intensely enjoyable, intensely miraculous...and the intense love that you feel for that wee one (and it's totally normal not to feel that right away...truly!!) is utterly and simply amazing.

Any questions, wanna tell me your story (I'm a L&D nurse and a mother of 5...I love labor stories!! Love. Them.), wanna tell me I'm off my rocker? Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear it! Good, bad, or otherwise!

Good luck, sweet young mother!


  1. Hi there Mama M.,

    I'm Carol, also a mother of five. I liked experiencing birth "au naturale" as much as possible. With child #1 I was induced and had a little stadol to "take the edge off" as it is often said. I pushed for two hours because I wasn't doing it right, and then my beautiful baby boy, Austin, was born.

    By child #2, it was much easier. I didn't have a single medication and pushed her out in like 5 minutes. She was a beautiful baby girl, now 11 years old, and is wonderful.

    OK, by #3 I was a little panicky about that pain and did the whole epidural thing. It helped A LOT! My baby girl, Melanie, was pushed out in like 2 minutes and is now 9.

    My 4th and 5th were twins~ that I had no idea about until my 20 week ultrasound. Prior to finding out that it was a multiple birth, I had this vision of having my "4th" child in the tub at home with a midwife. By golly, this one would be as natural as they come. It turned out that my midwife delivered our identical twin boys, Grant and Cooper, in the hospital and they were and still are incredibly healthy. They were 6 lbs. 7 oz. and 7 lbs. 3 oz. Yes, they were big and so was I. They are a true joy!!

    All five children were vaginal births.

    Thanks for reading this VERY long comment. :-)

  2. No, you cannot pull off a y'all!! Especially in that context!

    But you made me laugh (Cause you know you would laugh at me if I slipped a "dontcha know" into one of my posts!)!!

    I really wish someone would have informed me that I should keep my bowels clear in the days prior to giving never occured to me what would happen if I didn't!!!
    (And it only happened with birth #1. I made sure it couldn't with #2 and #3.)

  3. I love love LOVE this post! I had a natural childbirth with my second daughter. It wasn't planned that way, but everything happened so fast!

    I have a question. I had the worst back labor with baby 2. I mean, it hurt. What would you recommend as a nurse to manage the pain naturally? I plan on having any and all children naturally now but would love to hear some tips from such a fab nurse!

    Love your blog and your tips, your stories--so fun!

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  5. i love labor stories too!
    i had my first baby this past january. i have always wanted a med free birth and, by God's grace, i was able to do it. my labor actually went pretty quickly. my water broke at 3:30 am. hard labor didn't set in until around 10 am when my dr started me on pitocin. my sweet girl arrived at 2:09 pm. i had prepared myself for the worst possible pain of my life and ended up finding it wasn't as bad as i imagined.
    i have always heard women say that you forget the pain, but, honestly, i don't want to forget it. it is really the best thing i have ever done physically. i loved it - if it's not weird to love labor. =)

  6. I love labor stories as well, and I am not a nurse OR even a mom. It just interests me so much! I'm just about to graduate undergrad with a degree in Human Service and plan to go for my Masters, too. I would LOVE to work in a hospital one day...I just have a problem with blood. Minor detail!

    Anyway, I loved your number 5! I think the idea of a water birth is just amazing! If I ever have kids, I hope to have a water birth!

    and your hospital really asks if patients want to talk about their sexuality??!! WEIRD! :)

  7. can't say for sure how i got here to your blog....but as a l&d nurse myself from the midwest {"all y'all" is totally ok!} i couldn't agree more! have 2 kiddos myself: c/s first for breech and vbac for the second and let me say that all the expierence in the world didn't prepare me for my own deliveries- great list!!

  8. Great advice!!

    You said give us our stories... here's mine...

    But first...prefacing with the fact that I am a WIMP to pain! can't even pop a pimple, so I don't haha

    Girly Whirly #1: New Mexico. admitted in, checked by the nurse at 2 cm and told that I would probably go home, my doctor was not in, after a bit, she went to get the attending doctor til mine came in. He checks and says, no she's not 2cm... she's 7cm... my mom, who was down to visit us, called my hubby, who was at a bible study (I had assured him earlier before he left, that I was feeling great-nothing but feeling a little uncomfortable, so had no clue that I might have been having some contractions)... he got there in time to be there for our daughter's birth. I didnt want to push! and they had to break my water. (It was 2 hours from checking in until she was born). 8lbs 2 oz

    Girly Whirly #2: Alabama. Hubby's sweet aunt and uncle come to visit... as we are talking, I tell them I'm feeling some contractions...we continue talking... after a bit, I finally feel that I have to dry-heave (with our first, I had the same feeling. unfortunately, it wasnt just a dry-heave, since I had toatlly made a pig of myself on my mom's lasagne!...the doctor commented when he had come in to check me: "So, someone had Italian tonight?")
    Well, my water had to be broken & it was 40 minutes from the time I was admitted until she was born. 9lbs 2oz

    Heartbreaker: Hawaii. early in the morning...uncomfortable, brought our girls to our friends, drove to the hospital. Admitted and hooked up to the monitors. Was told that I'd most likely be going home, cuz the contractions were reading mild to nothing. (I said, ARE you kidding? If this was mild, then I want meds.) After a bit, they realized the monitors were not connected fully, but had slipped, so the readings were not correct! I said, just take me and break my water! They checked, took me from the labor room, broke my water and 6 minutes, our son was born. 8lbs (thank goodness he didnt follow the upward trend! My hubby was 10lbs +)

    All were au naturale.

    Thanks for asking :o)
    Blessings & Aloha!
    (gotta get to work! will come back to finish catching up on your awesome posts!)

  9. I went au naturale with my first (and only) babe. Your tips are awesome. That's exactly what I did...all of them. It worked like a charm. Labor was so fast, I accidentally went au naturale.

    I was induced at 39 weeks (reduced growth of infant, and fluid still notmal, but decreasing each visit). Pre-induction stats: 3 cm, 80%, -1

    My labor went like this:

    10am- They broke my water, then I walked the halls for an hour to see if I'd progress on my own.

    11 am- They checked me, still 3 cm. They started the pitocin. I labored in bed for 20 minutes. No fun.

    11:20- Tried the birthing ball, warm rice sock, and focusing, much better. Some pain, but not so bad.

    12.15- Took a hot shower.

    12.30- Got out of the shower. Contractions non-stop. very intense, but not too painful.

    12.35- 7 cm. (uh-oh...guess I'm not getting an epidural)

    12.45- 10 cm. ready to push. Had to hold the baby in as my doc wasn't at the hospital yet since I progressed so fast. Longest half hour of my life. So intense. Lots of quick breaths, then long, slow breaths and focusing.

    1:15- doc arrives and I start pushing.

    1:23_ Graham was born, 5 lbs, 14 oz, 19 in.

    Better than I ever thought it would go. Not bad for a first time mama, huh? I hope I'm as fortunate next time. I will definitely try going natural again. :)

  10. I love birth stories!

    #1 - woke up at 2am and had bad diaharia (sorry if TMI), thought that was why my belly hurt....laid around for 3 hours, woke up hubby at 5am, got to hospital and was a 5, gave me epideral around 7am and beautiful 8lb, 4oz son was born at 8:15am.

    #2 - started having contractions around 3pm at work, I worked with my mom at the time so at 5pm I told her we needed to go because contractions were pretty close. Got to hospital at 6pm. Nurse asked me if was my first baby cause I guess I was acting like a baby! ha and told her was my second, she checked me right then and was a 9 (no epi for me:( ~beautiful 7lb, 9oz baby girl born at 6:15pm. I LOVED the phrase I saw the other day of 'burning ring of fire'...that is DEAD ON! ha

  11. Thanks for posting this! Our medical community is very divided (doctors vs. midwives) and the hospital nurses are usually not portrayed in a flattering light by the "natural" side. As a mom that tried for a home birth twice- unsuccessfully- I appreciate your advice and attitude towards natural birth. Mind if I hand this out to a few friends? :O)

  12. Love this! Excellent! Thank you! :)

    I posted on my blog two nights ago about making my decision to labor without meds. Just a few (or so) weeks away from it now! Pretty exciting stuff. Everything I read helps, so I'm glad I saw this! :)


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