Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Preparing For Natural, Unmedicated Childbirth: Part 3

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Read Preparing For Natural, Unmedicated Childbirth: Part 1 and
Preparing For Natural, Unmedicated Childbirth: Part 2

I knew that I needed to have something I could focus on during contractions that would help me relax and let my body work with the contractions, not try to block them out.

I had tried, during my other labors to focus on a picture on the wall, but that didn't seem to help me for more than about the first 2.7 seconds of each contraction, because I was trying to ignore the pain, by focusing on the picture.  And if you've ever been through labor you know there's no ignoring that feeling!

That's when I remembered the family vacation we take every year. 

Peaceful? Check. Relaxing? Check.

I remembered the hour long horseback rides we would take and how I loved to listen to the sound of the horses' hooves on the gravel, and then through the grass and small streams, and crossing wooden bridges.

I decided that for each 60 second contraction, I could envision myself on horseback.  I would imagine the sound of hooves going over gravel. Clip, clop, clip, clop, for 15 seconds, 15 steps. Then 15 seconds, 15 steps through tall grass. Swish, swoosh, swish, swoosh.  Next would come water. Splish, splash, splish, splash, 15 seconds, 15 steps.  Lastly, I would imagine going over a wooden bridge, clip, clop, clip, clop and after 15 steps, seeing my family on the front porch of our cabin waiting for me and cheering me on.

These things were very easy for me to imagine because I had done them many times.  During my pregnancy, I practiced going through the 15 steps, 4 times each every night as I lay in my bed waiting for sleep to come.  I wanted to make sure I had the timing just right, so the whole "journey" would last for the entire minute long contraction.

When I went into labor with my 7th baby, I was ready to use the technique I had been practicing for months.  I need it to be very quiet so I could concentrate on the steps in my journey, so my husband had to "shush" some nurses a time or two, but it really did work for me!

I had told my husband ahead of time that I was determined NOT to say, "I CAN NOT DO THIS!" like I had done the other times because I knew I could do it, that my body was designed to do it.
Finally, I was able to go through my entire labor and delivery staying calm and relaxed the whole time! What an exhilarating feeling! I had done it!

(Read the birth story here.)

Here are a few other techniques I put into practice, along with the visualization I described above.
  • Keep hands open and relaxed. Don't clench fists.
  • Keep jaw and mouth loose and relaxed. No clenching!
  • Request a quiet environment. Sick your husband on the nurses if necessary.
  • Closing your eyes may help with the visualization.
Below are some books I highly recommend in preparing for natural, unmedicated childbirth.

What books have you found helpful?

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I am blessed! said...

I love to read and A Midwife's Story sounds so interesting to me. I read Better Off a few years ago about an MIT student and his wife who decided to go live with the Amish to test a hypothesis he had concerning the benefits and drawbacks of technology. I loved that book and it gave me a whole new perspective on happiness, simplicity, community, and how they're all connected.

Fruitful Harvest said...

I will have to read The Midwife Story it sounds good!
I labor much like you and the key to it all I think you pointed it out well was to PRACTICE every night! Its hard to just relax during labor/delivery if you don't know how!

When are you due?
I will keep you in my prayers!

Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving~


Kari said...

Thanks so much for sharing your natural birth experiences!

More mamas need to read honest stories of natural births. :)

I'm a homebirthing mama who has had a hospital c-section (way back in 1991), a midwife attended homebirth (2004) and an unassisted homebirth (2008).

Books I like to read (and recommend) are Birthing from Within, Unassisted Homebirth - an Act of Love, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, Childbirth Without Fear, and Spiritual Midwifery.

Chick Hatchers said...

Thank you for sharing your labor stories. This was fascinating to me, as I have such rapid labor that the pain knocks my socks off. Medication has never been an option for me, both because it's so fast and because I just won't consider it unless it's one of our lives is in immediate danger.

Like you, with my first I climbed the bed to get away from the pain. Bradley hadn't helped prepare for what the pain is really like. But my midwife helped me re-focus and it went easily after that. With my second and third, I used a different technique (along with Bradley) and that was to use those 60 second contractions in prayer. Full force, devoted prayer. It really helped. I have also visualized my cervix opening during contractions. I don't know if it actually plays any role in helping that happen, but it helps me relax knowing what the contraction is for and imagining it happening.

I never really read any birth books. I've always been of the opinion that unless there is a complication during pregnancy, that pregnancy itself is not a medical condition any more than salivating or hair growing. Medical technology has its place and I welcome it when it's necessary. When it's not necessary then don't use it.

I hope your story helps motivate others to attempt natural child birth. Your story is an inspiration, especially since you had medicated births previously. Those of us who've never had an epidural are usually just fanatics or extremists to those who can't imagine a natural birth.

...they call me mommy... said...

Thank you for sharing this!

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, here's something I discovered in my most recent (third) labor: During each contraction, I would remind myself that all I was feeling was a muscle contraction, something I feel in my arms and legs whenever I exercise, nothing foreign, it's just that we're not used to feeling such powerful contractions in our BELLY. In our arms and legs, an equally powerful contraction would not seem nearly as overwhelming. So, with each contraction, I would mentally transplant the sensation from my belly to my bicep and remind myself that if I were feeling that exact same sensation in my arm (as when lifting a heavy weight) I would not be overwhelmed, that it was something I could completely handle. That made every contraction much more manageable. I also found vocalizing in a long, low "ohhhh" sound during the contraction helped, especially when my husband made the same sound with me. I don't know why it helped to have him vocalizing with me, but it really did.

Nicki said...

I read all of those books and I agree: good reading!

Harmony said...

I took a childbirth class based on Birthing From Within, and our instructor had us practice by holding ice in our bare hands for a minute at a time. She gave us a lot of different techniques to use for coping with the pain, and some worked for me, while others didn't.

Of course, I think part of what helped was that I routinely spent one day a month in so much pain I could barely walk, so I already had plenty of practice in dealing with that sort of pain. ;-) Oh, and my doula. I never want to give birth without a doula. She's priceless.

Cheryl said...

I didn't comment originally because I read this in the reader but I just wanted to say how very much I enjoyed this series!

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