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5 Tips to Help You Prepare for an Unmedicated Labor

Updated: May 29, 2023

Prepare for an Unmedicated Labor

1. Carefully Consider Your Provider and Birthing Location

Your choice in provider and birthing location can make or break your birth plan! When you’re planning an unmedicated labor we always recommend investigating if an out-of-hospital birth provider might be a good option for you. While hospitals are geared towards both medicated and unmedicated labor, homebirth midwives and birth centers are 100% geared toward unmedicated labor. They usually have practices and policies that are more unmedicated friendly. For instance, in NOVA only one hospital has tubs in every labor room (INOVA Loudoun) and all hospitals have policies against waterbirth. Since water is an important pain management tool, delivering at a birth center or with a homebirth midwife can be the only way you can have access to a waterbirth.

That said, if you know that a hospital is the best place for you, make sure your provider is supportive of unmedicated labor. If you hire a doula, they can give you their top in-hospital unmedicated support recommendations. I always encourage clients to interview their provider to make sure they actually align with their goals. You can ask questions such as:

  • What is your policy on induction, intermittent monitoring, and eating during labor?

  • How often do you attend unmedicated labor?

  • What do you do to support unmedicated labor?

2. Invest in Childbirth Education

In any birth experience, education is so important. When you’re planning an unmedicated labor it is important to understand both the physiology of labor and unmedicated pain management techniques. The best way to do this is to read books specifically about unmedicated labor or to take a thorough childbirth education class. When picking a childbirth education class look for ones that cover prenatal preparation, the physiology of birth, unmedicated pain management techniques, breastfeeding, and preferably postpartum care.

3. Surround Yourself With Positive Birth Energy

Anyone who has ever been pregnant knows that social rules of engagement change once you’re pregnant. Everyone and their mother feels like they have the right to share everything from their worst birth horror stories to their most irritating judgmental advice. People tend to be extra judgmental and opinionated when you’re planning an unmedicated labor.

All of these horror stories and judgements can chip away at your self-esteem and create unnecessary fear around birth. To avoid this I recommend two practical steps. The first is setting boundaries with friends, loved ones, and strangers around the topic of birth. Secondly, counteract negative birth culture by surrounding yourself with positive birth energy. This can be found in the form of supportive friends and family as well as collections of positive birth stories.

4. Be Mindful of the Mind, Body, and Spirit Connection

It’s important to address your emotional and spiritual needs as well in order to prepare for the physical reality of labor. As your pregnancy progresses, take time to connect your mind, body, and spirit. This can be done by prioritizing your religious or spiritual practices. If your self-care routine doesn’t currently involve any spiritual or religious practices you can give this a try:

  • Set aside 5 minutes

  • Find a place in your home or outdoors where you feel safe and peaceful.

  • Light a candle (if you like candles)

  • Close your eyes and start taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

  • Clear your mind and sit in silence for a few moments

5. Hire a Doula

Doulas are proven to help reduce the need for medical interventions, including epidurals. By hiring a doula you will benefit from the following during labor:

  • Early labor support at home, before moving to the birthing location of your choice

  • Hand on pain management techniques

  • Assistance with positioning and rest

  • Emotional support

  • Support for your partner, and so much more ……

If you choose to hire a doula, make sure that your doula has attended non-medicated births and is comfortable with the physiological process of birth!


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