Epidurals are very common with about 60% of women receiving one during labor, but what about the other forty percent? The women who give birth unmedicated must lean into their mental strength and focus to get through labor and delivery.
Though there are exceptions, most women who give birth unmedicated have made it a conscious decision and have prepared themselves mentally and physically for birth.
There are many benefits of having an unmedicated birth, such as wanting to remain in the moment, a sense of empowerment, and many others. Continue reading for more benefits of an unmedicated birth.
Natural Pain Relief
Women who decline medicine during labor can still make use of natural ways to relieve pain and discomfort such as:
Walking around and moving into comfortable positions
Getting into a warm bath or shower
When a woman gives birth without numbing the senses, she feels a deep sense of connection to her body. She feels more than just pain. She can feel the baby pushing against her uterus with their feet as they work their way down and into the birth canal. She can also feel when her body is ready to push.
Some women also report feeling a connection to their ancestors, specifically the mothers who came before them, guiding and supporting the laboring mother through her contractions.
After birth, the mother and baby will begin bonding and the baby should start breastfeeding within an hour. The babies born unmedicated are typically more alert and thus have an easier time getting latched on for the first time.
Freedom to Move
Women are able to move their bodies and walk around during labor when they are unmedicated. This freedom to move allows the women a chance to ease their discomfort, help the labor progress, move the baby into an optimal position for birth, and get into the bath if she wants a water birth.
Movement makes the experience much more manageable for the laboring mother. Especially as she begins to push, the mother is able to get into the position that feels most comfortable for her at the moment.
This freedom to move presents another opportunity for connection between the birthing woman and her partner. The partner is able to assist the mother by acting as an anchor, holding her as she sways and works through contractions. The oxytocin released from this intimate experience will also help labor progress.
After birth, the mother is able to get up and walk around immediately. Women who receive epidurals may still feel numb for another 3-6 hours after birth and require assistance in using the bathroom.
Due to the natural release of oxytocin during unmedicated labor, there is less need for interventions.
Women who have gotten an epidural usually have a more difficult time pushing which can lead to the use of forceps, vacuum, or needing an episiotomy.
Cons of Epidurals
Epidurals, like all medications, can have side effects that some feel is not worth the risk. These side effects include:
If you're just coming out of the first trimester, you'll be happy to learn that the second trimester (weeks 13-27) is the most welcomed part of pregnancy. For most women this is when the nausea and vomiting subside, the fatigue lessens, and your belly starts to resemble more of a bump and less like bloating.