Natural Childbirth Advice

Updated on May 05, 2010
B.F. asks from Los Angeles, CA
19 answers

Hi Ladies,

I am almost 38 weeks preggo with my first and I hoping to have a natural delivery w/o an epidural. Do any of you have any advice/tips for me?

One useful tip someone gave me was to stay as long as I can, bc the hospital will encourage me to get an epi. I am delivering at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles and their epi rate is 95%!!!!

Any advice is appreciated!

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answers from Washington DC on

I'd say stay at home as long as you can and walk around and breathe through the contractions , movement such as walking helps to bring the baby down and also get's the contractions going , as opposed to being led on a bed strapped to a machine. I went to the hospital at the last possible minute with my first and second and they were both delivered shortly after arrival.

Good luck and I hope it all goes smoothly for you.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I second or third the advice to stay home as long as possible, as well as getting a doula. If you have a doula she can come over as soon as you are in labor, and help you through and she will be able to help you know "when" is a good time to head to the hospital. I have five kids. I just answered on another thread (also about natural child birth) that I have had 1 epidural for my son that needed to be induced for IUGR and I've had two homebirths.

What my homebirths taught me is that care providers who are experts in dealing only with natural, non-medicated labors don't ever have to "check" you to know how far along you are. They can tell by just looking at you how far along your labor is. An experienced doula who works mostly with natural-labor clients has that same skill. I know the biggest stress once labor starts and you are going to the hospital is to make sure you get there in time, and that you don't stay home too long. A doula can greatly ease that stress of worrying about that for you, allowing you to focus on laboring in the comfort of your home until it is time to get to the hospital. Staying at home longer also means you are free from hospital restrictions on your movement and what you are "allowed" and "not allowed" to do, which makes laboring a heck of a lot easier and more comfortable on you and you aren't put on anyone's artificial time clock of how fast your labor "should" be. More than the epidurals is the pitocin use in hospitals....and use (and overuse) of pitocin directly leads to a greater use of epidurals because pitocin makes labor 1000xs worse. Often what happens is if you are not dilating x centimeters per hour then they tell you your labor is "slow" and they want to "augment" it with pitocin. Then your whole natural labor plan goes out the window, because now you are stuck in bed, on fifty million monitors, with the most intense contractions that can experienced. In most hospitals the use of pitocin is over 90%. That is the biggest pitfall of being the hospital and the pressure to hold up to their standards of what your labor "should" look like.

So, you really do want to wait as long as it is safely possible to get there, and a doula who is experienced and primarily works with women who have natural childbirths would be able to help you meet that goal of laboring at home, while still getting to the hospital to have a safe birth of your baby.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Get a doula. They will support you and help you relax and manage the pain during your labor.

Also, visualization and meditation techniques. It might not be too late to read the Hypnobirthing book by Marie Mongan. If you practice every day until you give birth, it should help.

Good luck!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Good luck! I agree with the other moms that this is a ship you should be driving. However, I have two pieces of advice someone told me and it was very helpful, because my birth plan didn't go as expected (due to complications, I had to have a scheduled cesarean, although that was not my desire). First of all, yes, have a plan and work towards that plan but not at the sacrifice of experiencing this amazing event. A friend was so determined to have a drug free birth that after a thirty hour labor and eventual cesarean, she felt like the experience of giving birth had been taken from her. I understand this feeling, but it was devastating for her and took a lot of the joy of bringing a new life into the world. So, my philosophy and one that is helpful is to hope for the best, plan for the worst and allow yourself to feel joy in accomplishing whatever task is right in front of you, whether that be preparing for the next drug free contraction or making the tough decision to alter your birth plan. The second piece of advice I got was to listen to your body. Many people including mothers and doulas and doctors tell you to wait at home as long as possible, BUT listen to your body. If something doesn't feel right, go in or at least call. I hope you don't mind me sharing, I just wanted to pass along the thought that yes the birth is this pinnacle event that you've been waiting for and preparing for, but don't lose sight of what comes next. As a side note, I loved my experiences at Cedars as did my friend who delivered there without an epidural. Congratulations!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Congratulations! I just gave birth to my 2nd daughter, both born at cedars. My first was completely a natural birth, my second (11 days ago) I ended up choosing to have an epidural after being in labor 14 hours with considerable lower back pain, and I have a high pain threshold. My experience is that some of preparation for a natural birth needs to be discussion with your ob before your start labor. And then, once you do go to the hospital, continue to tell your labor plan to whoever is working with you, nurses and doctors. Some of the nurses are more likely to sound surprised that you plan to go without pain relief, stick to your plan. It also benefits you to have a partner, coach or doula, who knows your plan, your pain tolerance, and will stick by your intent unless there is some reason, medical or physical, that you decide together that you have to do something different. My first pregnancy I was in labor a lot longer, but I was younger, less tired, and didn't have to have an iv sticking out of me. This time, I had tested positive for strep b, so I was on a penicillin iv drip. Then there was the contraction/baby heartbeat monitor bands, then the internal baby monitor. Having tubing running into me made me less able to change positions during labor (walking, leaning on my husband, sitting on a ball) all were difficult and then the baby's heartbeat started to drop in reaction to contractions. Dr. Ushigome suggested the epidural to allow me to relax and rest ( I was so exhausted that I would almost pass out between contractions) after trying to slow my contractions.
Ultimately, talk with your doctors and nurses, & have a plan with your partner. The benefit of waiting to go to the hospital is that you won't have as much time laboring in that environment, so if you're comfortable being at home, stay until your contractions are closer together.
Best wishes to you! K.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't think they could force you to have an epidural unless you wanted it. I had a natural birth for both of my pregnancies. My second pregnancy, I had planned an epi because I was expecting twins, and I wanted to be prepared in case of an emergency c-section. This did not happen, as my labor progressed pretty fast.

For my first I walked alot, sat in the shower, used one of those exercise ball to relieve the back pain.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

The best ways to avoid the epidural are:

1. Get a doula
2. Stay out of the bed once you get to the hospital! They will tell you to get into bed so they can monitor the baby, but you can be standing or sitting when they do that. The bed is the most painful place for laboring!!!
3. Get into the shower or tub as much as possible. Cedars has a few rooms with tubs and they're usually available if you request them -- they save them for last because most of the women who give birth there are planning on getting an epidural and they won't use the tubs.
4. Avoid induction -- the contractions with Pitocin are more difficult to handle and if you're on Pitocin you can't be off the monitors, so you can't get into the shower. Accupuncture, hypnosis and reflexology can all help you get into labor without being induced.
5. Write a birth plan that is not longer than 1 page and make sure all of your support people (husband, doula, mother, friend) understand what you want -- you won't be able to speak up for yourself when you're in active labor.
6. Have a wonderfully supportive doctor and request a nurse who is comfortable supporting a woman who wants a natural, unmedicated birth ... but use the word "unmedicated" because so many people confuse "natural' with "vaginal" and think that any vaginal birth, regardless of the number of drugs pumped into you and your baby, is 'natural."
7. Relax, surrender and trust that your body knows how to give birth, just as it knew how to grow your beautiful, perfect baby.

Happy Birthing

B*E*S*T Doula Service

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

well i had a natural birth!!!!!!! and I DID NOT get the epidural, why? well kuz in the long run u'll have back problems, and bkuz i didnt want my daughter to come all drugged out neither!!! JUST STAY CALM and be RELAX!!!!! IN THE END ITS ALL WORTH IT!!! CONGRADS!!!



answers from Detroit on

Good luck! Relax and try to stream the joy thru your body. I had and epi as I had a c-section due to one twin being in the wrong position. I had no side effects from it, nor did my babies. So if, for some reason, you need one, know that you will all be fine!



answers from Seattle on

You are probably too late to attend most birthing classes, but there are a couple of books that I recommend:

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. It is encouraging and at the same time instructive on how to achieve an unmedicated birth.

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin. I just got it in the mail today and haven't read it, but it comes highly recommended. Flipping through, it looks VERY descriptive and detailed on massage, positions, etc for managing labor and delivery.

The latter book is designed to help your birth partner help you as much as possible during labor. In addition to a well educated partner/husband, I recommend hiring a doula. She will be the coach and support person throughout labor and delivery and is supplemental to the support your partner will give you.

Best of luck to you - you can do it!



answers from St. Cloud on

If you can labor in a tub, DO IT~!~! I did with our second and the labor went soooo smooth. It was way less painful! I didn't have an epidural with either of the 2 but my first labor was very painful and the water really helped with the second.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi there. I commend you for wanting to go natural. My advise is to have your birth plan/wish be known to those around you who will be your support during labor (husband, doula, etc.). You will need to know how to relax through the contractions and your support people as encouraging as possible. I gave birth with my first baby at Cedars (a transfer from Birth Center) and they almost killed me with too much epidural. My second baby was born in water birth tub at home. Much more amazing. The key is to have your support during labor. Yes, staying home to labor as long as you can will help a lot in avoiding the anesthesiologist who will be coming around your labor room often. Good luck.



answers from Phoenix on

Bradley Birth is awesome, but required months of education and practice. I would grab the book Husband Coached childbirth and read it quickly. Do deep belly breathing, no fast breathing. Listen to relaxing music, take it one contraction at a time. Keep walking around, or do pelvic rocks on your hands and knees. I like the Bradley relaxing position, and spent a lot of time practicing that position, husband used massage techniques, calming words, and imagery. Good luck!


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

I agree w/ the pitocin rate being waaay too high. I haven't met anyone who can go w/out an epi on pitocin. I consider myself very tough and stubborn, I wanted natural, but an hour after pitocin I was screaming for some relief. The only reason I agreed to it was because he had already had his first bowel movement, and so they put me on a time limit until a cesarian. Well, I took the pitocin vs. c-section! But I agree to wait at home for awhile, they limited me on how much I could move at the hospital. I understand that they wanted to monitor the baby, but I think it was overkill. If I was sitting on my birthing ball wrong the monitors freaked, I about snapped this rude nurses head off for trying to tell me I couldn't use my ball lol! My son was already predicted to be 8-12 lbs, so there was the fear that he wouldn't fit either since he NEVER dropped. I literally had to squeeze him out like toothpaste from the top down....but he did fit! Go with your instinct and fight for what you want, in the end the Doctors wont make you do anything you don't want to. They will only intervene when it is life threatening. All the best!



answers from Los Angeles on

With the birth of my son I planned on going natural and hoped to labor at home as long as possible. I had also been told that this would be the most helpful way to avoid an epidural. Unfortunately, my water broke and I was instructed to go straight to the hospital so laboring at home was no longer an option. I was given pitocin after going several hours without contractions starting on their own. Even though my labor didn't start as I hoped, I stuck to my decision not to have an epidural. Yes, the nurses encouraged me more than once to get an epidural. For me, it was my husband/coach who helped me get through the pain and who let the nurses know I did not want an epidural since I was in the middle of a contraction when they asked me. Make sure the hospital knows that if you want to have an epidural you will ask them, but they should not ask you (its hard to resist when you're in the middle of a contraction).



answers from Los Angeles on

Congratulations on wanting to have a natural childbirth. I have 2 children (17 & 13) and they both were born without an epi. Your body was made to have children, it knows what to do. You can do it, just make sure your husband undertstands that is what you want. (This is providing you are no having complications) I did the Bradley method as mentioned in one of the earlier comments, and remember reading that you are about to start pushing when you get to the point you cannot take it anymore, so keep that in the back of your mind. I thought I would want soft music, massage, etc. but when the time came...I focused inward and wanted no distractions. I could barely speak, ended up squeezing my husbands finger for answers. The point to telling you this is, make sure you communicate to your husband and he is willing to be your voice to the hospital, because you may or may not be able to. I will tell you that my best memory of having my 2 children is pushing them out. Sounds kinda wierd, but it's's an amazing feeling that you will not have if you end up it the epi. I also went without an episiotomy, which was very common at the time. Good luck to you!



answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, it can be done! Speak to your doctor about your desire. Make sure your husband, friend doula conveys your wishes to the nursing staff. I had my two children at Cedar's without so much as an IV-no epi-nothing. I stayed home a long time with my first and was at the hospital for about 4 hours before delivery. My second one was fast. My water broke both times at home and that was the first indication of labor.
Make your desires known! Have a great labor and delivery!



answers from Los Angeles on

Best Fed Babies has a great resource for you. Contact for their great website. Please let them know we referred you! Good Luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi there :) You already have a lot of great input from other great moms but I hope you won't mind reading one more.

My water broke 2 days before my due date but I was dilated only 1-2cm. My labor had to be induced. Thank God for my husband coz he was a very good coach that the nurses were so impressed. It's true (at least for me) that during labor you may not want to talk to anyone so during contractions, hubby will tell me when it'll get stronger and all I had to do was hold up my hand so I can squeeze him. I remember focusing on a dot whenever that happened.

Do you consider yourself having a high tolerance for pain? I'm the type of person who does not take Tylenol if I have a headache. Honestly, after giving birth naturally without epidural, I was very proud. Your birthing experience may be different from mine but if you can proceed without the epi, I'd say go for it.


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