Sunday, April 8, 2012

Unmedicated Birth: You Can Do It!

This is the first of a couple of blogs about labor and birth, so IF any dudes are tempted to read, beware! I've kept it pretty PG, but I'm sure there are some things I'll write that you're really not gonna want to think about. :o)

This blog is for mommies-to-be who are interested in having an unmedicated birth, and for all those who have heard the horror stories of labor (oh, how we women like to tell them!) and caught the terror but not the wonder of it all. After the unmedicated birth of my first baby in January, I wanted to shout to the whole world of women: It's awesome! You were made for it! You can do it!

All said and done, my labor was about 18 hours from my first real contraction to Samuel's birth. There were no complications, he was in the perfect position, and it went smoothly. So my experience is based on a pretty much perfect scenario. I know many times there are issues with women's bodies or the baby's position, and that these introduce more difficulties into the process. But I just want to alleviate some of the fear about labor in general, and the idea that it is to be feared, dreaded or avoided. Labor, at its best, can and should be a bearable and even exhilarating experience!

My testimony is that it was exactly that! For sure, it was the most intense thing I have ever been through, and there was definitely pain involved, but our bodies were created so amazingly that if you work with the process instead of fighting it, you can actually enjoy it!

Here's the thing. Left alone, our bodies release hormones that work like natural drugs. Oxytocin, prolactin, adrenaline and noradrenaline, and beta-endorphin are all involved in the process of labor and delivery. My favorites, if I can have favorites, are beta-endorphin (your body's natural pain-killer) and oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone responsible for your contractions, among many other things, and also for a euphoric emotional high when the hormone peaks at delivery. I like to call it my "happy drug." I was FLYING emotionally all the way from the pushing stage til 48 hours after Samuel was born. It's these hormones that help you cope with the intensity of labor and delivery, and come out of it all with the most glorious memories.

It has been noted that the use of epidural anesthesia actually inhibits the release of these hormones. Likewise, pitocin (the synthetic form of oxytocin, given to intensify or speed up contractions in the case of a slow-moving labor) is injected straight into the blood stream and doesn't enter the brain and therefore doesn't contribute to a post-birth "high." Pitocin can also reduce the mother's own oxytocin production/release.

Our bodies were made to handle the physical stress of labor and delivery without any man-made drugs. When you prepare for the process as adequately as you can, and learn to work with your body, relaxing and surrendering to each contraction instead of tensing up against the pain and fighting the process, it really can be a wonderful and exhilarating experience.

Oh, and the fear of tearing? Don't worry about it. I was freaked out about the idea all throughout my pregnancy, and when it came down to it, I tore and got stitches and the whole shabang, but it was the least of my problems. It was really no big deal. I know some people have a harder time with the tearing thing than I did, but I don't think worrying about it beforehand does any good when it comes down to it. :)

Here's something you may not know. In the book of Genesis, when the Lord curses woman by saying "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth," the word for "pain" is exactly the same word that's translated "toil" when He curses the ground and says to Adam "in toil you will eat of it." Having children is that: really hard work. And yes it hurts. But it shouldn't be unbearably excruciating, any more than a farmer's (do those still exist?) work is unbearably excruciating. AND you get a baby out of the deal! WIN!!!

So, that's my bit about that! As I was first writing this blog, I started to include my birth story, but then realized it would be WAY too long that way, so decided I'd put that in another post. So again, my whole message to women who will one day soon bear children is this:
It's awesome! You were made for it! You can do it!


  1. I love that you're trying to reach out to women about how our bodies were MADE to do this without any interventions. :-)

  2. Wow! Great post, Hannah! Of course I love all the scientific stuff about hormones! :) But seriously, I thought this was so encouraging for women and down to earth. Something I think women who don't choose natural birth feel is condemnation from the "natural" world, but I did not sense any of that in your blog. I love that. I can't wait to read your birth story! :)