Welcome to a new edition of Motivate Me Monday! At week 36, I can hardly believe how quickly this pregnancy has flown by! After chatting briefly about my labor and delivery goals with my OBGYN last week, I felt inspired to write today's MMM post.
I am blessed to have shared five of my own birth stories with friends and family, and now that we are anticipating the arrival of #6, I can't help but wonder how this little one's story will be written.
With bags perfectly packed, and birth plan in hand, I was going to deliver this baby a la natural. Well, 19 hours into a grueling labor, clutching my husband's shirt in the death grip of desperation, I begged him to find the man with the cocktail of comfort. All those carefully written plans had swiftly flown south. All I could think about was getting an epidural. Needless to say, my pain relief request, filled with compelling wails and grunts, was a tad late. Seven pitifully long hours later, our son Benedict was born.
Without going into too many details, I'll tell you why I've chosen the natural route with each of my own births. My main motivation for laboring without an epidural during my first labor experience was pure curiosity. I truly wanted to know what labor was like for my mom, my grandma and all of the moms of past generations who had ever brought new life into the world without the option of pain relief. I know, it sounds pretty idealistic, doesn't it (or crazy, or both!)? Always intrigued by the capabilities of the human body, I couldn't help but desire to experience the birth process from start to finish without any interventions. As you know, from the story above, intrigue was not enough to sustain a 26 hour labor!
Even so, after all that pain, just 6 months later, we realized we were expecting #2! While laboring with our second son, my doctor informed me that, because I was not progressing and the baby was stressed, if I didn't try an epidural hoping it would help me to relax and dilate, a c-section might be necessary.
In came the drug team. And, oh baby, did it work! In just five minutes, I went from a 5 to pushing. Talk about a wonder drug! Unfortunately, I paid a big price for those 5 minutes of complete relaxation and the avoided c-section. Six months of spinal sensitivity and migraine headaches had me re-thinking the epidural.
1. Red Raspberry Leaf TeaRRLT is an absolute must have for me, and for many women, during the last 2-3 weeks of my pregnancy. This stuff is truly magical! Used for centuries to help prepare a woman's uterus for labor, it is widely known for making contractions not only less painful, but more efficient, resulting in shortened labor time. I can attest to this! My last two births have both been three hours or less, and much less painful than the previous ones! Just a few of the other benefits include:
- Minimizes the risk of postpartum hemorrhaging
- Eases postpartum discomforts
- Increases breast milk supply
The important thing to remember about drinking the tea in preparation for birth is that it is most beneficial when consumed in quantities of 4-5 cups per day leading up to the birth, and in concentrated quantity once contractions begin. You can store it in the fridge and drink it iced for convenience. If you are scheduled to be induced, prep some of the tea ahead of time, refrigerate it, then take it with you to the hospital and sip on it before advanced labor begins!
If you can find a brand that is formulated with Rose Hips and Nettle, the benefits of the tea only increase. I am using this brand from Vita Cost.
You can read more about the history and benefits of RRLT here, here and here.
2. Chiropractic Care & StretchingMost of us would agree that chiropractic care is a controversial topic. In general, it seems that people either love it or hate it, believe in it strongly or doubt sincerely any benefits it might bring to their lives. When it comes to pregnancy, labor and delivery, I'm a believer!
Proper spine, hip and pelvic alignment are undeniably important for a mama's comfort during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and also assist in the proper positioning of the baby for birth. My personal experience with chiropractic care throughout pregnancy has been so positive, I cannot do without it! I sleep better, find relief for low back/sacrum pain, and feel energized after every visit.
In addition to regular adjustments, my chiropractor has also shown me several stretches that I can practice to remain limber for labor/delivery. A simple hip flexor stretch as well as the tried and tailor stretch are two of my favorites.
When seeking out a chiropractor, be sure to look for one who has a specific interest in and experience with helping expectant women. They are more likely to be informed on the latest practices and information regarding adjustments during pregnancy. Read more about the benefits of chiropractic during pregnancy here and here.
3. Meditation and VisualizationAlright, I know this might sound a little bit hoakie, but visualization and meditation during labor and delivery really can help the process along. Don't worry, I'm not going all new age on you! Believing in the power of the mind to help us through difficult, even painful situations can be a positive and prayerful experience.
While I was laboring with our 4th son, Henry, my doula suggested that when a set of contractions would come, that I close my eyes, exhale, and with each one visualize the baby descending down the birth canal.
To my surprise, the deep, controlled breathing and visualization helped me to relax, allowing the contractions work more effectively. I used the same technique while laboring with our 5th child, and was amazed at how I was able to truly manage the discomfort. I actually looked forward to each contraction, knowing that with each one, the energy in my muscles was moving me closer to being able to push.
Now that I'm just 3 weeks away from my due date, in the evenings, I like to find a quiet place, sit in the tailor position, close my eyes and practice visualizing the birth process. This type of meditation truly is prayerful preparation for what I hope to be a positive experience both for myself and for the baby.
Do you have any advice when it comes to giving birth naturally??
Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!