There is a big difference between “wanting” an un-medicated birth and preparing for one.
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard an expectant mom say “I want to do it naturally but I’ll just wait and see how it goes” when talking about birth, I would be rich.
Honestly – I hear this phrase A LOT. Too often. It makes my skin crawl.
Why? Because “wait and see”- meaning that she did no preparation during the course of pregnancy- never works. Especially if mom wants an un-medicated birth. Natural birth doesn’t just happen because you draw a lucky card in the delivery room.
This may seem like a bold statement but I have been studying the art of having an un-medicated birth for almost a decade now and to date, I have never seen a woman have an un-medicated birth with the “wait and see how it goes” attitude. (There was one mom who went too fast to receive the epidural she had planned for and she’ll be the first to tell you she should have prepared for birth. It would have been a better experience for her if she had some tools to work with her body.)
Why doesn’t it work? There are many reasons but here are a few of the most common:
1.) One of the most important parts of planning an un-medicated birth is choosing your care provider wisely. One of the things I cover extensively in Birth Boot Camp is how to choose a care provider that is going to help you and not hinder you with routine interventions that could derail your labor.
2.) Some of the routine tests and procedures offered to women during pregnancy that can alter the direction of birth before labor even begins!
3.) The above mentioned interventions. These are common things that are introduced to most woman in labor, such as an IV, or electronic fetal monitor. They seem so simple and trivial – how could they possibly make a difference? Well they do. They limit movement for one and movement is one of the key ingredients to birth. ALL interventions and routine procedures need to be researched so the mother can decide what is best for her and her baby. If she wanted to “wait and see how things go” and did not do any preparation, she can’t possibly be informed on the risks vs. benefits of every intervention introduced to her during labor and may, unknowingly, accept one that takes her whole birth off course.
4.) Not having any coping techniques. Birth is intense. I will not sugar coat it and say “it can be painless if you just relax enough.” Relaxation IS important but you will need a few tricks up your sleeve! You need to know how to move, positions that will be helpful, sounds that will keep you nice and open. Your partner also needs to know how to help you stay on track. A doula can help your partner help you stay on track. Birth is a team effort. The mother needs to assemble her team wisely and that team’s job is to support the laboring mother by helping her through the tough places with affirmation, touch and love. The more loved and safe a mother feels, the more oxytocin her body produces which prompts the release of more pain reliving endorphins. Now if mother has no coping techniques, she is likely to get overwhelmed and scared of these new sensations. When mother is scared, things can get pretty overwhelming very quickly.
Many women go into birth with the “wait and see” philosophy and come out thinking “what just happened? That did not go the way I wanted.” This is because there are a lot of variations in labor and birth. There are a lot of things that you may encounter during labor and the more prepared you are, the better you are able to make decisions that can move you towards or away from having the experience you wish. Even if things happen outside of your birth plan, you can address and accept it as they come up from an informed place instead of a fearful one.
Un-medicated birth is definitely achievable for most women, but it is most likely to happen only after careful preparation and education. A look at Birth Boot Camp’s yearly statistics shows a strong correlation between education and having an un-medicated birth. Even if a mother does not wish to have a natural birth, education is clearly helpful in significantly lowering her chance of having a surgical birth. Childbirth education teaches you how to work with your body and gives you and dad relaxation tools. It will help you decide what things are important to you as a couple and how to put yourself on the right track to obtaining those goals through proper preparation.
Things cannot go according to plan if you have no plan.
Take it from me: do not “wait and see” because it simply doesn’t work.