When people hear I intentionally had an unmedicated childbirth with my son, they’re intrigued. “Amazing!” they say, “And insane. Jeez. How’d you do it?” I nonchalantly shrug, check my polish, channel my homebirth idol Gisele Bundchen and say something Zen like, “Oh, I just let my body do what it was made to do. It was nothing.”
Do you want to endure unmedicated childbirth, too? Well, I have a few survival tips for you so you can get through this intense—I mean, beautiful—experience.
1. Start mentally preparing for the worst pain of your life RIGHT NOW. Preparing for natural labor is a marathon, Ladies, not a sprint. You don’t show up to a marathon and expect to finish if you’ve been jogging twice. You train for that bitch, physically and mentally, for months. You also don’t show up for a marathon with the attitude of, “I’ll run as far as I can, then get a ride the rest of the way.” So
2. Get primal. Your noises will sound like a cross between a lonely whale’s mating call, a constipated gorilla’s grunts, and a drunk sorority girl’s screams as she’s chased with a meat hook. You may hurl insults at your partner, vagina, baby, doctor, and Mother
Oh, and while we’re getting primal, I hope you don’t plan to show up to your unmedicated birth and slip into an adorable nightie with clasps at the shoulders for tender post-delivery breastfeeding. If you do, I hope you also plan to get blood and poop all over that thing, because it’s happening. Really, you should arrive at the hospital in such an advanced stage of labor you won’t even remember you have this nightie and you’ll end up with a hospital gown thrown over a leg and only one sock. So, just plan to have your baby pretty much
3. Prepare your coach for #2. Give your birth coach the heads up that you’re going to go nuts with the verbal assaults and supernatural noises so they react appropriately. While you won’t care about your unladylike words and sound effects, you will care if it looks like they are anything but awed by the miracle of childbirth. You won’t appreciate any frightened looks or unsupportive commentary in response to your letting loose. Tell them to lock that schizz down. Expressions other than those of blissful adoration will elicit more cursing and scarier noises, all directed at them.
4. Pretend there are no pain meds. Epidurals? What epidurals? I pretended they didn’t even exist so I wouldn’t be tempted. I thought I would be more likely to ride out the pain if I felt I had no choice. Totally worked. If I had had it in the back of my mind that they were available, I would’ve been calling the anesthesiologist
5. Don’t think about the post-delivery state of your vagina. It’s easy not to think about it when you have an epidural. You can’t feel anything, so you hardly know anything is happening to your reproductive system at all let alone to your punani. When you do not have the epidural, however, you are acutely aware of the way your body is stretching and twisting to accommodate the emerging baby. You’re acutely acutely aware of your vagina’s state, and the first logical thought there is to protect your goods so they’re not ruined and don’t end up looking like an elephant that your partner will run screaming from when they see it. Which could make you want to cross your legs and hold the baby inside. Which, of course, is useless. Any resistance to this process just makes it harder, so let that baby out. As unbelievable as it is in the moment, your lady bits were made for this and will fully heal within a matter of weeks. And they won’t (necessarily) look
Best of luck! You’ll need it.