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"...in 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 knees...you 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 distraction...you 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 eye-to-eye...you, 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!