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Scared About Natural Birth

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
Hi Ladies!

I'm currently pregnant with my first baby, and I am gung-ho about having this kiddo sans drugs or interventions. I'm lucky and have a midwife that is very supportive of everything that I have expressed a desire to do (or not to do!). We won't be inducing, we will not be using pain medication; basically just letting nature take it's course.

Here's my dilemma. I'm a huge baby when it comes to pain. I know that labor is a very natural process and it's nothing I can't handle, I'm just terrified that at one point I'll start screaming for pain medication. My husband is very supportive of my no-interventions policy, and I know he'll do his best to keep my mind on that path. He knows how scared I am of drugging myself....I'm just scared I won't be strong enough.

So my question is, were any of you (or are you) just as scared or nervous about the pain? What were some ways you naturally alleviated the pain you felt during childbirth? Did you meditate, use a labor tub? Any encouraging words are appreciated!
post #2 of 50
First, congratulations on your pregnancy! Now about the pain thing... let's put things into perspective. You go through life and get your period every month. 1 week out of 4, you bleed. This is something you put up with for darn close to 40 years.

Now think about labor and birth. It's one day. And the part that's anything to write home about is generally less than 12 hours. For me it was right around 6 hours that I had to actually concentrate to get through labor. 6 hours of your life. Compared to 40 years worth of periods and another 30 years of menopause. 6 hours is probably less time than you spend at the dentist getting cavities filled in your lifetime.

Ok that's some perspective. I'm not saying that labor is a piece of cake, but really, in the grand scheme of things, it's not that bad, and it doesn't last that long. IME, it is like climbing a mountain a little bit. It's not fun every step of the way, but you are motivated to carry on because of what you get at the end. You get breaks in between contractions, so it's not really continuous. It's hard work, but it's not so hard that you can't do it. For me, the key thing was knowing, without a doubt, that I was able to do it -- that this is what my body was MADE to do, and that my job was just to let my body do its job, which was to have my baby.

so what do you DO to cope? First, there are a lot of good classes and techniques that you can take/learn. Hypnobabies is one that many people find helpful. Birthing from Within works for many. Bradley Method also works. Having a doula or some other experienced continuous labor support person will help immensely. (If your husband seems resistant to this idea, I like the "sherpa" analogy: You would climb Mt. Everest with an experienced climbing partner, but wouldn't you also want a Sherpa along with you? Someone with local knowledge, who's been up it before?)

Personally, I ended up sitting on a birth ball for most of my labor (at least, the part that I needed to concentrate for). A tub would have been nice too, or a shower. To get through my 2+ hour transition I mostly counted my breaths. 15 breaths per contraction, and then it was over.

I also suggest you read The Birth Partner by Patty Simkin. Great book. Also read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth - especially the wonderful inspirational stories in the first half. They help you get your mind wrapped around the idea that birth is first and foremost *joyful* - not *painful*!

Finally, consider that by giving birth, you are participating in a singular life experience that all mothers share. For me, I felt it was important to be fully present when my daughter was born. I wanted to feel her come out, to catch her warm soft body in my hands. I still vividly remember feeling my pelvis stretch as she came out, and it was a most intense and strange feeling! I am glad that I have these memories to share with my daughter for when she becomes a mother.

Best of luck with a happy and healthy pregnancy!
post #3 of 50
Have you asked yourself what it is you are afraid of? I mean, I know the pain, but more specifically, is there a part of labor that makes you more afraid? Are you concerned about anything other than the pain?

I'm a control freak by nature and going into my birth I was more afraid of losing control than of the actual pain. For me, that meant that an epidural was petrifying which is what first got me thinking about a natural birth. Once I did more research, I did become afraid of the actual pain. I was able to narrow down my fears, though which really helped. I found I was afraid of the unknown, so I watched videos and asked experienced moms what it was like. My biggest fear was pushing/crowing and it proved to be the hardest part of labor for me. It is when my fears surfaced and I gave into the panic. I wish now that I would have stayed more calm during that phase because I know that the panic was much worse then the actual pain.

So hear is my advice based on my experience. Have a birth plan in place. Stay away from all intervention, not just pain meds. IME cervical checks were painful during labor. I refused for them to break my water because I had heard that the water intact give extra cushioning during contractions. Anytime I was attached to a monitor and restricted to bed I was in more pain. So moving around, walking, bouncing on a birth ball, taking a shower, all helped with the pain. I also found dim lighting and calming music to be very helpful. The more calm I was, the less pain I felt (or at least the easier it was to cope with). Have SUPPORT!!! The last thing I wanted to do was worry about other people, but I found myself concerned with the emotions of others during my labor. A doula is a fantastic idea and can really help to keep focused.

For the pushing/crowning phase, all I can say is that for some people it provides relief. It is said to feel good to work with contractions and push. For me this was not the case and I wish ahead of time I would have known that yes, it is going to hurt and it's going to be intense but it won't kill you, it won't break you in half, yes the baby will come out, and once you feel that ring of fire it's usually only minutes before you get to see your baby. At that point, you've already done it. There is no longer hours of labor in front of you. The finish line is right there.

You can do it. It's well worth it.
post #4 of 50
Looking back after my first birth, a natural birth in a hospital setting, there just was not a whole lot you can do to a) speculate what contractions or pushing will feel like, or b) know how you will react. I think to educate yourself as thoroughly as possible about the natural process of birth, and employing a supportive birth attendant is a really great start. The being nervous part is very normal. Wondering if you will be able to do it is normal. For me those questions remained until I was holding my little guy in my hands in front of me. You sound like you are on the right path, mama!

If I were to give you one more piece of advice, it would be to invest in a great doula. We had a doula for our first birth who helped us to labor at home a long as possible, helped us to know when to go to the hospital (because I just had no idea how far along I was having never given birth before), and not only helped me emotionally to be strong and to feel reassured about how normally things were going, but also had great tips for DH to help me during labor, and also just had the "right touch" when it came to pressing on my back and massaging just the right spot. I can't speak too highly of my doula, and I would love every woman--especially when doing this labor/birth thing for the first time--to have that benefit.

You are going to do great.
post #5 of 50
"So my question is, were any of you (or are you) just as scared or nervous about the pain? What were some ways you naturally alleviated the pain you felt during childbirth? Did you meditate, use a labor tub? Any encouraging words are appreciated!"

I guess I was a little scared about the pain, but I just assumed that I could do it without the medications since my mother had done the same. It was only about two weeks before my due date that I started to learn about how the hospital setting is soo un-conducive to a natural labor and delivery and that most people who want a natural birth actually take classes for months beforehand! I wound up giving birth with pitocin but no epi. Mt husband helped me through the contractions by putting his hands on my back. That's it. I didn't do any special breathing or visualizations or baths or aromatherapy or chanting...
I hope your birth goes well and that your baby is healthy!
post #6 of 50
i am exatcly the same i can almost cry just from stubbing my toe, however all my births were homebirths with pain meds.
i found having a bath during labour helps also sitting on a birth ball rocking side to side also helps, i,m not going to lie to you there were moments in all my labours when i felt like i couldn,t do it but that was the trasitional stage and i tend to get a little freaked out but that is apperently normal and means not too long now.
i think it would be good for you to write a list of any fears you have and discuss them with your mw and partner so they can help and encourage you through them when the time comes.
take care
post #7 of 50
I think I was more scared of getting an epidural than the birth pain so that was a motivator for me.

I think it is perfectly normal to be fearful of this. We spend our entire lives getting all these messages about how painful birth is. Whatever you can do to change your thinking will go a long way. I used the hypnobabies program and part of it was daily affirmations that helped change my thinking about pregnancy and birth and there is also a fear release script that was helpful.

It was so helpful for me to read Henci Goer's book. Really knowing exactly why I didn't want to fall into a big mountain of interventions was so helpful. It was also great for DH who really couldn't understand why anyone would go through pain if there were drugs to alleviate it.

Now, all that said, at one point during my labor I was feeling tired and discouraged and asked about pain meds. Having a midwife, doula and DH who all knew that I didn't want drugs saved me from myself. They distracted me, told me we'd talk about it at a particular future point, got me through that moment and then it all went fine.

There are so many tools you can use to manage the pain: positions, water, hypnosis, etc. Read as much as you can about natural birth. Whatever you do avoid negative birth stories. Everyone will want to tell you their bad ones. I'd also recommend Ina May's book. SO inspirational!
post #8 of 50
I think it's good that you're thinking about this now while you have time to prepare. I'd recommend reading some positive birth stories, like the ones in Spiritual Midwifery and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Find some nice birth movies to watch, like "Gentle Birth Choices."

If you have a Bradley teacher in your area, I would highly recommend taking the Bradley classes. I took them with my second baby and they were helpful for me.
post #9 of 50
I'm a huge wimp too, and I did it. If everything is normal, you can totally do it too!

My very best advice is don't do labor math. That is: stay in the moment. Do not calculate how much longer or stronger the contractions will get, just take them one at a time. You can do ANYTHING for a minute/90 seconds. Then that one's over and you're one closer to meeting your baby. And just when you're sure you can't take it anymore, you're done!

I second the recommendation of reading some Ina May. One thing that helped me in labor was to get out of my own way, to stop listening to my brain, and as Ina May says "let your monkey do it." Your body knows how to give birth--just let go and don't let your brain get in the way.
post #10 of 50
Labor pain is different from any other kind of pain you've experiences. Yes, it hurts, but it's not like stubbing your toe or cutting your finger. Nothing "wrong" is happening during labor, your body isn't giving you a cue to stop doing what you're doing. Your body eases you into it. The contractions start off slow and build up - each one feels like a wave rising then falling. You get rest in between to regroup, nature is very kind in that way.

The book that was most helpful to me was "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way". I didn't follow their methods exactly, but I loved the explanation of the stages of labor, the ways that labor can start, the various ways that labor can progress, etc. Because of that book, I knew beyond anything else, that when I got to the point where you think "I can't do this anymore" (or in my specific case I was thinking "I'd be so much easier if they would just cut the baby out!") that I was in transition and I was near the end! Knowing that I was close is what got me through.

The other important thing that the Bradley book taught me was to relax your muscles during a contraction. When you feel pain, it's a reflex to tense up, but being tense slows everything down and makes your body work harder to do what it needs to do. I found if I was able to start breathing deeply at the start of a contraction and really focus on staying relaxed the contraction would barely hurt at all, if I wasn't able to relax the pain was much worse.

Best of luck to you! Do some reading/research and I'm sure that will help calm your fears
post #11 of 50
I also liked "Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way"...their explanations of what was happening, and what the sensations were, was EXTREMELY calming to me during labor. As long as I could visualize what was happening during contractions, I felt on top of the pain. I knew what it was doing, and since my muscles were working so hard it made sense that the pressure/sensations would be extreme.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth was also very helpful...and mamas, help me out, what is that quote that's so amazing?

...Something like "The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you." That thought was always (is always) so comforting.
post #12 of 50
When you cut your finger or break a bone, that just sucks. There is no purpose to that pain. However, when you are giving birth and on the cusp of the final step of creation for your baby, there is absolutely a purpose to the pain (it's the birth of your baby) and that is such a motivation!!! I remember all of sudden becoming very "Mama-Bear" strong in my last month of pregnancy and finding strength within myself to bravely birth and do whatever I had to do for my child. It is that mother love which trickles through you during pregnancy that gets turned on full force towards the end. You can do this and it's going to be okay!!! Congratulations on your new blessing!
post #13 of 50
I've had three full-term births. I get the jitters still just thinking about labor.

For me, my approach was stoicism. It is what it is. It hurts. My body is doing it's thing. It'll end and I'll have my baby.

I labored at home and did a lot of stuff to distract myself (cooked, changed sheets, etc). By the time I got to the hospital there wasn't a whole lot of time for contemplation anyway. Things went too fast with the second two to even consider drugs.

One thing I would say is this: You may decide you an epidural. There's no "shame" in that. But if you want to avoid one, do not accept drugs like Stadol or Demerol. They will be offered "to take the edge off" and "give you a rest", and presented as somethign "less" than an epidural. In my experience (with my first delivery), my observation of my sister's delivery, and the many birth stories I've read, these drugs are pretty much of the devil. For most women who talk about having them, they made them feel loopy, out of control, afraid and very vulnerable to suggestion ("Oh, poor thing. You want the epidural now, don't you?").
post #14 of 50
I totally agree with the Ina May book. If stories inspire you, the first half of the book is great. If detailed technical info is helpful (I love to analyze things) the second half of the book is facinating.

I did HypnoBabies with babies 2-4 and would recommend it to anyone. Even if it doesn't work perfectly for you, it made me so calm and confident! Amazing! And I had pain-med free, painless births, even with my twins which was a highly "managed", pitocin augmented, delivery in the operating room "just in case" with literally 18 people in the room watching.
post #15 of 50
My first was born in a hospital all natural. Now I will admit I tend to have a high pain tolerance but I'm a totally cuss and scream and am overall not a nice person when I've either hurt myself on accident or don't feel good so naturally l though I'd be one of the screaming women you see in the movies who treats everyone in the room with them like crap.... But... In labor I wasn't like that at all. For one I was too focused on mento be a witch to anyone but I never screamed, cussed, and I was actually a really nice laboring woman.

I never took a child birth class but I did watch a lot of natural child birth videos. So I prepared mentally. I'm knew I was going to feel pain but I took it one contraction at a time and from watching the videos I learned that the more pain I was in the closer I was getting to seeing my daughter for the first time. This got me excited and stifiled my fear of the pain... I took more of a "bring it on" attitude. I was so ready to meet my little girl. Also watching the videos I saw that my body would not split in two and labor did not have to resemble movie Alien! Hehe

A labor tub helped me with back pain up until transition time then it was just getting through the pain. I second what another lady said about mobility. I was in more pain everytime they tried to strap me down. Know your rights and know the hospital policies that you can avoid or not avoid. I failed to research that the first time and my biggest annoyance was being hungry in early labor and getting kicked out of the cafe. Ha! That and bein poked at evey hour.... Fetal monitors and vagina checks. Very annoying when your trying to get into a good mind set.

Anyways that's my two cents... Typed on my iPhone so sorry if there are a bunch of typing errors!!!
post #16 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
I've had three full-term births. I get the jitters still just thinking about labor.

For me, my approach was stoicism. It is what it is. It hurts. My body is doing it's thing. It'll end and I'll have my baby.

I labored at home and did a lot of stuff to distract myself (cooked, changed sheets, etc). By the time I got to the hospital there wasn't a whole lot of time for contemplation anyway. Things went too fast with the second two to even consider drugs.

One thing I would say is this: You may decide you an epidural. There's no "shame" in that. But if you want to avoid one, do not accept drugs like Stadol or Demerol. They will be offered "to take the edge off" and "give you a rest", and presented as somethign "less" than an epidural. In my experience (with my first delivery), my observation of my sister's delivery, and the many birth stories I've read, these drugs are pretty much of the devil. For most women who talk about having them, they made them feel loopy, out of control, afraid and very vulnerable to suggestion ("Oh, poor thing. You want the epidural now, don't you?").
I SO agree with this! If I weren't TOTALLY PARANOID about needles in or anywhere NEAR my back or really, any part of my body, I probably would have wanted an epidural for my first. I had pit and demerol and the demerol made me throw up and completely took away my sense of time, control or will. I hated it later, the feelings, or sometimes lack of feelings that it caused. It also made me sleep inbetween contractions, which sounds nice, but when drug induced, is actually horrible, because I'd wake up with a ctx already starting and I never felt like I could get "ahead" of it, so I felt like I was playing catchup for each contraction, and I felt very out of control. It sucked a LOT. I was so glad to move to the pushing stage!!
If you want to avoid drugs, then STAY HOME as long as possible, read and watch as many videos as you can, and find a good doula that YOU connect with. Nevermind about her experience, there are doulas with 20 years experience who are not right for YOU, find someone you feel comfortable with, who you can talk to and who "gets" you.
- Jen
post #17 of 50
I think i see labour not as something i "do" but as something that "happens". And i just worked on accepting it would hurt, but i didn't need to "do" anything about it.

Do you have a good imagination? I was told it would be the most painful thing i could imagine, well i have a good imagination! And it simply wasn't that bad, because what i can imagine is worse than what is.

You might well scream for pain meds - i did, with DD1! Of course i was at home and couldn't have any, but in transition of COURSE i yelled for them - you get to feeling desperate at the end. I can remember hearing "i need an ambulance, i HAVE to get an epidural!" coming out of my mouth and smiling inside, i knew i was going to meet my baby soon.

My tips for getting through are:

Only worry about the current contraction - stay in the moment, the only one's which matter are the one you're in (which will be over in a minute or less) and all the one's you've done (because you've added to your endorphins and can add to your confidence in yourself with every one you get through). There's no good worrying about the next one, enjoy the gap instead. I second a PP, DON'T do maths - don't try to use the past to estimate or predict the future - i took 12 hours to get dilated to a 3 and then only 4 hours more to be done and holding my baby with DD1 and i got to full dilation with ctx every 10mins still with DD2. Just trust that your body is doing what it is MEANT to do and you don't need to know cms dilated or watch a clock to "prove" that.

Stay home and don't take it seriously until it IS serious. If you're standing wondering "does this hurt a lot? I think this hurts a lot!" then it's probably not serious. Unless you have very unpainful labour - i would say out of 10 my contractions never get above a 5, and i still, at 5, can only think "ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" in the midst of it. There is no wondering. If you can still listen, speak (with effort perhaps) or think about stuff during the contractions then you can safely stay home and clean the kitchen for another half hour.

Give yourself no choice. I did that with DD1, with DD2 i had no doubts. But tell yourself you can't have drugs. You just can't. Whatever happens it won't be drugs. There is no specific way a drug free labour looks. My midwife friends tell me some women do it drug free peacefully, as if they're having a little rest, then the baby arrives, and some do it screaming curse words at the top of their lungs with every contractions. Neither way is better.

Here's a little song from The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant. In the book the midwives sing it to the labouring women - the book is set in biblical times, and they have very little in terms of pain relief, so FEAR relief is very important.

"Fear not, the time is coming
Fear not, your bones are strong
Fear not, help is nearby
Fear not Gula is near (gula is a goddess who helps birthing women)
Fear not, the baby is at the door
Fear not, he will live to bring you honor
Fear not, the hands of the midwife are clever
Fear not, the earth is beneath you
Fear not, we have water and salt
Fear not, little mother
Fear not, mother of us all"

Know your fear, embrace it, it's just part of becoming and being a mother. You can do it, your monkey knows how
post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by kltroy View Post
Now think about labor and birth. It's one day. And the part that's anything to write home about is generally less than 12 hours. For me it was right around 6 hours that I had to actually concentrate to get through labor. 6 hours of your life. Compared to 40 years worth of periods and another 30 years of menopause. 6 hours is probably less time than you spend at the dentist getting cavities filled in your lifetime.
That's what I thought going into labor... but then I ended up being in labor for ~3 days. A lot of things happened during my labor that I just wasn't prepared for. I wish I had educated myself more about the different ways labor could progress (or... um... NOT progress!) and issues with positioning etc. I had severe lower back and it was almost constant, not 90-seconds/break/90-seconds/break. I'm not saying this to scare you, OP, just to say that if everything goes 'normally' you'll be more likely to be able to birth without an epi but if things are out of the range of normal it could be a huge help to be mentally prepared otherwise the epi might seem like your only option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
One thing I would say is this: You may decide you an epidural. There's no "shame" in that. But if you want to avoid one, do not accept drugs like Stadol or Demerol. They will be offered "to take the edge off" and "give you a rest", and presented as somethign "less" than an epidural. In my experience (with my first delivery), my observation of my sister's delivery, and the many birth stories I've read, these drugs are pretty much of the devil. For most women who talk about having them, they made them feel loopy, out of control, afraid and very vulnerable to suggestion ("Oh, poor thing. You want the epidural now, don't you?").
This. I didn't want the epi but I was so exhausted & they couldn't 'check' me sot I reluctantly agreed to first something to help me sleep and then Stadol. I felt completely out of control & ended up getting the epi as soon as the Stadol wore off. It was a disaster. Of course, that's not the whole story (for example, I'm also a sexual abuse survivor & they told me the only way they could 'check' me was if I got the epi... no mention of the fact that they actually didn't need to check me at all) but I do feel like those "lesser" pain meds left me worse off than if I had just gotten the epi, and were the start of a downward spiral.

Sooo just wanted to provide some insight from someone who ended up getting an epidural. I actually live in pain nearly every day & don't consider myself a baby about it, so I was surprised when I "couldn't handle" natural birth. I also felt (feel) a lot of regret/shame about it & everything that happened during DS's birth, and that's not how you want to feel about your child's birth!! Just educate yourself as much as possible, be prepared for different things that could happen so you'll be better equipped than I was. Good luck!!
post #19 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by kltroy View Post
6 hours is probably less time than you spend at the dentist getting cavities filled in your lifetime.
Not only that, but you get a break between ctrx (in most cases.) So even at the worst (which was about 1.5 hour for me during transition) I still had a 3 min break between. Ctrx were 1 min long, but they ramped up & ramped back down - so probably 30 seconds only of "pain." That's 30 seconds out of every 4 min - that's 7.5 min per hour! Not bad, huh?

Laboring in water was also FANTASTIC! I was fortunate enough to have an in-ground pool at my house & labored on a July afternoon, so most of labor was spent floating with my upper body through a raft in the pool. Vocalizations were great too - made me feel like I was doing something to help cope.

Hopefully your MW is also on board with:
  • no continuous fetal monitoring
  • no IV fluids (I think even a hep-lock without anything attached is wholly unnecessary)
  • eating & drinking as desired
  • movement as desired
  • No AROM (artificial rupture of membranes- "Breaking your water")
  • No pitocin to 'speed things up'

These will make your coping easier as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoBecGo View Post
Do you have a good imagination? I was told it would be the most painful thing i could imagine, well i have a good imagination! And it simply wasn't that bad, because what i can imagine is worse than what is.
Love this! & so true for me too.
Basically in most situations in life I've found that if I dread & fear something, it's never as bad as I imagine. Whatever I build up in my own head of the unknown is always worse than reality.
post #20 of 50
I was totally scared, too. And I DID end up screaming for the meds-- but by the time it was that bad, I was like five minutes away from pushing and it was too late for meds. I like going in this time knowing that-- that when it finally gets REALLY bad, it means I'm ALMOST done. Make sure that your husband knows that if you start hollering for medication, and decide to get an epidural, get them to check your dilation before giving you medication/epidural. I've known a few people who were doing great the whole time, then hit transition and wanted the drugs, then as soon as they got the epidural in, it was time to push-- so basically they were almost done and all that happened was that their pushing got screwed up by a useless epidural.

I used lamaze and found it to be great all through the early stages of labor and right up until that late transition pre-pushing part.

Also, since this is your first time, get a doula if at all possible. It will be very helpful to have someone who understands labor, knows what you're going through, and knows how to help you. Your husband will be great for loving moral support, but having someone with experience will really save you when things get intense.
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