Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bringing Baby Earthside Without Pain Meds

I’ve recently had my inbox flooded with requests on how I give birth without any pain relief. They wanted tips, and advice and rather than response to each and every one, I figured this would be a great way to reach everyone. I will write this piece mainly for moms going to hospitals, since they are the ones who struggle the most with interventions and pain relief. They are the most vulnerable. But the actual pain techniques I will discuss can work for anyone.
The number one piece of advice I can give moms is that pain comes from fear of the unknown.
This statement is to be taken apart, and analyzed because I can’t explain the importance of understanding what it means.

In today’s world, from the second we understand what giving birth is, we are told horrible stories. Stories about pain, interventions, emergencies.  Reality television shows prey on innocent women, and scramble to piece together the most dramatic and intense situations for ratings. They show the exceptions, they rely on your fear to keep you watching and guess what? You do. There is nothing wrong with watching these shows, but much like watching Friday the 13th, you must take these shows with a grain of salt. No matter “how real” they appear. In addition to watching these shows, try heading over to Youtube and search for unassisted births, homebirths, babies coming earthside. Watch the 2 documentaries “The Business of Being Born” and “Pregnant in America”. What you will see is a completely different view. You won’t see medical equipment and hear anxious voices as people scurry about. You will see calm, peace, near silence. Women won’t be on their backs and no one telling them to push. Yet these women aren’t screaming like they are trying out for a horror movie. Do you scream when you have a bowel movement? Of course not. Having a baby is really not that much different.

Giving birth is a natural process that your body is made to do. Doctors have stolen this natural process and in turn have gained money and convenience. As much as you THINK your doctor cares, at the end of the day you are what is paying his bills, you have to remember this. You also must remember that HE/SHE WORKS FOR YOU. Start by taking back the power and calling the shots. Go to your birth prepared, read as much you can get your hands on. Talk to moms of natural birth. Be prepared for any and all interventions the medical team may throw your way. Be prepared to say no, or better yet have someone say no for you.

Now let’s get down to it. Pain comes from fear. Fear comes from unknown. So first knowing what to expect is the first step. A contraction, (a shortening of the uterine muscles occurring at intervals before and during childbirth) is in a limited area. Your abdomen. Occasionally wrapping around to your back, but it’s contained. There is no reason to believe your whole body will contort into a massive amount of pain all over, but bet your bottom dollar, if you tense up, it can and it will. Before birth you need to practice relaxing. People look at me weird when I say this, but it’s not as easy as you think. It’s also helpful to practice this with the person you plan to be supporting you during birth. They can be aware and help you relax when you forget. Because you will, I promise. Start by lying in a comfy place; be it semi sitting, leaning back in partner’s arms, or in a recliner, or a warm bath. Close your eyes. Play some relaxing music if you would like. A lot of people like nature sounds, or ocean waves. Some people prefer music like Enya. I tend to love the ocean. It was where I was happiest at so I listen to the ocean. Start playing this while practicing because when showtime hits your body will remember the music and what to do. After your music/sounds are playing and eyes are closed. Dim if the lights if you like.  I know some even like to write the next bit down and have their partner read it aloud, or memorize it before labor day. Some are better with audible directions, so this tip works great. If someone reads it aloud to you, remember to have them read softly and slowly. Taking cues from your body on when to move to the next step. When I tell you to “feel “ something. Don’t literally touch it, rather focus your mind to that body part. Think about that body part and nothing else.

Concentrate on your breathing. Feel yourself breathing in, deep, deep, and then out, nice. Slow. Controlled. In again, so deep, your lungs are full and then out. You are in control of your body. Feel your toes. Relax your toes. Feel the weight slip down into them and down into your feet and up your legs. Relax your legs. Your legs are heavy now. They are sinking into the ground below you.
Feel your fingers. Relax your fingers. Feel the weight slip into them, into your hands, up your arms. Relax your arms. Your arms are heavy now. They are sinking into the (insert whatever is below you, i.e. bed, chair, tub) below you.
keep breathing, in and out. Nice and slow. Feel your head. The top of it tingling ever so slightly. Do you feel the weight bearing down on it. Sinking into, melting your muscles. Relax your face. Relax your eyes. Relax your ears. Relax your cheeks. Relax your mouth. Unclench your teeth. Let your mouth open slightly. Relax your jaw. Breathe. Your neck is heavy. Relax your neck. Relax your shoulders. Your body is getting heavy now. Feel the weight sinking down into your chest and into your stomach. Your whole body is relaxed now. Keep breathing.

Once into this mode,  you can either  practice to be aware of a body part that may “slip out” of this and go back into “tense mode” you will have to make yourself relax it again. Keep your eyes closed. Learn your body. This is where the practice comes in. Learning to feel when something tenses and how to just let it relax. A partner can visually do this. If he sees your neck creeping up tense, or your hand balling into a fist. Just have them softly touch that body part. A gentle reminder to relax it again. Take a deep breath and make yourself release the tension from where they touched. I know I am bad about my neck. My partner will often have to place his hands on either shoulder and as I am swaying in a contraction he will press down softly yet firmly, to remind me to maintain control and relax those shoulders and neck.
The thing is, when you keep your pain confined to 1 area, and pain and tenseness out of the rest of your body, it’s SO much more tolerable. Anyone can have a single body part hurt, and with the rest of your body so relaxed, the pain decreases ten folds.
Learning your body is key, knowing the pain is coming and that you have control over it is key. Do not be afraid of what your body is meant to do. Do not be afraid of any pain you’ve had in the past. I can assure you, that pain came mostly from fear, anxiety and the unknown. Control your body. This is YOUR birth. You CAN do this.

As labor unfolds, it will increase into transition. The contractions will be harder and it will be harder to control the rest of your body, but keep breathing. Have your partner touch parts that need to be relaxed. Have them gently remind you to relax. Some do better with a touch. Some do better hearing what body part to relax. You will find yourself becoming antsy, and you won’t want to sit still. This is normal. You may even feel sick. The great news is, while this is as worse as it gets, it’s almost OVER. Transition means you’re almost ready to push. Which will be relief. This is where my mind comes into play. When I feel a contraction coming on, in addition to my eyes closed, body relaxed, I will take my mind on a vacation. Start out by going to your happy place, think about anything and everything. All you have to do is distract yourself for a few minutes, then guess what? The contraction is over and you have a break to prepare for the next. Take labor ONE CONTRACTION AT A TIME. Do not fear the next, prepare and breathe. As contractions become harder, I find myself moving to the most ridiculous things I can imagine to distract myself. I remember at one point thinking of a giant hotdog riding a horse through a field of flowers. My mind was distracted enough to get through that contraction and I was one step closer to pushing my baby out. Every single contraction opened up my cervix a little more. Like a flower, I was blooming. Imagine your cervix opening up. Unfolding like a rose in the morning dew.
For you audible mamas, have your partner learn the contraction monitor,  (if you are hooked up. If you do not want to be, you do NOT have to be. No one can force you into anything.)When a contraction is coming on, they can often see it before you feel it. They can say “Here comes another.” Then as you begin your breathing, thinking of your happy thoughts and relaxing, they can see when the contraction “peaks” They can audibly tell you. “It’s peaking now. It’s at its worst. Hang on. There it goes, it’s coming down now. It’s coming down, down.It’s over.”
You did it. You made it through another contraction. One step closer. Just when you feel like giving up, you’re likely almost to pushing. Hang in there. I assure you, it gets better. Once you are ready to push you will feel immense pressure. Your body will bear down naturally. Let your body do what it needs to. Listen to what position your body wants to be in. Some like to squat, some like to stand, or be on all fours. Do what your body says to do. Don’t second guess it. Bear down. You will feel relief from the pain. Remember to keep your neck and body relaxed. Concentrate all your energy into your abdomen. Pushing that baby down, down, down. Pull the energy from your fingers and toes. From your neck and chest. Put that energy like a glowing comet into your abdomen and push.
When your baby crowns, you will feel what they call a “ring of fire” it only lasts a few seconds and nothing unbearable. It means your baby is almost here. Pant and slowly get the rest of the body out. Just like that you’re done. Your baby is earthside! The relief is immediate. Place the baby on your chest and allow it to try to nurse. Breathe your baby in and bond. You did it, mama. Job well done. Don’t let anyone take this time away. If baby is healthy, there is no reason it can’t just be. Allow your placenta time, it will come out when its ready. Your body will now flood with oxytocin. The love hormone. Enjoy your baby.
I really hope this helps and if you have any questions feel free to ask! Happy labor, mamas!

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