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Preparing for a Drug-Free Childbirth (the no-fuss way)

Ah, the drugfree childbirth article. Do you know how long this has been brewing in my head? Every time I think about it I smile, because every time I think about my last birth experience, I smile. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was exactly what I prepared for it to be. Emphasis on prepared.

I absolutely love birth stories–to me there is just nothing better or more suspenseful than hearing or reading about birth from its storyteller.  The interesting thing about childbirth is that no two are ever the same. Each woman’s experience, even if it is reasonably similar, is her own unique story. Her preparation is different. Her expectations are different. No two are alike. & I love that. What I want to share here is how I prepared for my second birth experience–because my preparations are what I credit for my drug-free delivery and reasonably easy recovery. If you would have told me four years ago that I’d be writing about this, I would have laughed at you. But after reading, watching and listening to the resources I have found myself buried in, I can tell you that I believe in the body. I believe in natural birthing. & I believe this country has a poor way of educating women about their birth options. Hopefully, if nothing else, I can open your mind about those of us that choose this kind of experience. We’re not looking for a medal. We’re not looking to say “I am tougher than you.” But talk to any woman about how she felt after a planned drug free delivery, and I bet you’ll hear just about the same thing—it’s magical.

I remember exactly the moment I knew my next birth would be different. It was August of 2009 and I was sitting on my couch a couple of weeks postpartum (on a boppy, because of the broken tailbone my first birth left me with.) I was watching The Business of Being Born (which I highly, highly recommend). I was nursing. I was hormonal. I was still in pain. Everything hurt. Other than meeting my sweet Caroline, my first birth experience and recovery were something I’d rather erase from my memory. Was it like this for every woman? Are we all so drugged that we don’t remember the first week of our child’s life? I remember thinking–heaven help me if I am blessed with another baby someday…I will never, ever do it this way again. As I sat there and watched these empowered women succumb to their bodies amazing natural talent, I found hope. Hope that I could one day birth on my own–and that it would be blissful and warm and non-medical.

…and it was.

But I made some very deliberate choices that helped me achieve my perfect birth and I want to share them–so those of you who are told you are absolutely crazy for considering a natural childbirth (like I was plenty of times) have some moral support. In the end, I found that is really the only thing that mattered–people who believed in me so I could believe in myself.


The most important choice I made was this one. I first found a group of OBGYNs who employed midwives, since having midwife support in a practice usually means there is a strong belief in natural childbirth. I happened to have a friend who delivered with one of the midwives (several friends, actually) and I had her ask a midwife which OBGYN she would recommend for a patient who wants a DOCTOR who believes in the natural birthing process. After my experience last time, I definitely wanted a doctor over a midwife, and I also wanted a trained surgeon, since the severity of my tear last time increased my chances of a significant tear again. I also strongly believe in hospital birth–and that you can have a wonderful birth experience in a hospital. I am proof of this. I found my perfect OBGYN, who gave me a copy of her own personal birth plan (and encouraged me to use one, then went over it with me), and I knew she was the perfect person to manage my care.


Although my husband is a doctor, I knew that I needed a doula. He may know all the medicine stuff, but he’s not an expert in childbirth and I wanted someone who was. I asked my doctor who her favorite doula was and ended up hiring her as my second support person–and she was amazing. She was so calm and encouraging and our meetings before birth were so helpful to ease my worries. She was just as instrumental to me BEFORE the birth as she was during. If you are wondering if the money to have a doula by your side is worth it, my answer is 100% yes. I cannot say enough lovely things about sweet Vera. I am actually a little disappointed that I didn’t get to work with her more–as I hold the record as her shortest birth ever (was only with her at the hospital for 20 minutes before delivering!) She was the one who went chasing after my husband who went to grab my bag from the car and she gets the credit for making sure he was there for delivery. It all went so fast that he would have missed it if he’d gone to the car & back! :) And she blessed me with some images that I will forever be grateful for, since I did not have my birth photographed.


My first exposure to childbirth done the drug-free way was the documentary The Business of Being Born. It is the perfect starting point and very much goes hand in hand with my reading suggestion. Ironically, my doctor is actually IN the documentary. Ha! Keep in mind it is a documentary, and while I did find it educational, I was a little bothered at how OBGYNs were portrayed. Heck, mine was the one in the trailer saying “pit” over & over and she could not be further from that kind of provider. So watch it & take what you will. I actually loved the second documentary, More Business of Being Born even more.

I am not a huge reader of books. I read a lot of articles, but I just don’t usually have the patience for a whole book. So, I chose just one. THE birth book, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, as all my supporting natural birth mamas told me. It’s half birth stories, half birthing process/science-y/instructional stuff. I did not read it straight through–I jumped around. I say this to encourage you to get it, and make it work for you. You do not need to read it cover to cover for it to be helpful. I read it on my iPad and highlighted parts that I loved. While I have heard some people skip the birth stories, I found that some of my favorite visualizations came from other women’s stories. Those were by far, the most useful part of the book for me. This was a phenomenal mental preparation. It was also a wonderful reminder of what our bodies do and why.

I read most of it my second trimester and brushed up on some of the birth story visualizations in my last couple of weeks. They were extremely helpful for my mental preparation. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts & how I used them:

I believe in my body

The following quotes reinforced my confidence in the birthing process and what my body could do.


Pain is clean and temporary

Pain is a funny thing. We all experience it so differently. I would not describe my drug-free delivery experience as painful (but the tear repair afterwards, is a different story!). There was a lot of pressure and some temporary discomfort, but that always passed and I got a break between contractions. I think we fear the pain more than we find ways to cope with it, which is why many of us (myself included on birth #1) are scared into the epidural. It is critical to put yourself in a good mental place and practice techniques & visualizations to help you with the labor experience.




Everything my body is doing has a purpose.

Understanding what was happening to me was a huge coping mechanism. I read enough to know how to relax and let go so my body could work. Labor was work. Beautiful, powerful work. When I got in the way of what it was trying to do is when I struggled. So I let go. Let it progress as it was ready to & did not use anything to interfere with this process. Using the waves visual for contractions was so soothing to me–each one is powerful, rushes in, peaks and then gently backs off. Waves don’t get stuck..they always come and go, just as contractions do.




As a former Yogi, I knew that I would thrive if I had some good audio support to help me meditate to my happy place. It is so important to be in a good mental place during birth, and for me, hypnobabies was the answer. I listened to it all the time during my last trimester, most of the time in the bathtub and promptly fell asleep. I often wondered if I was actually benefiting from it since I’d drift off, but after making myself listen to it while wide awake and remembering everything, I discovered it was definitely buried down in my subconscious–which was awesome.

I liked some of the tracks more than others, but overall, it was EXCELLENT. I listened to most of them at least once, but did not follow the workbook. I used the free Hypnobabies Relax Me track to fall asleep almost every night my last trimester. It was awesome. I loaded all the tracks on my iPhone so I had it with me all the time. (oddly enough, it was missing the night of my delivery, but you can read about that in Everett’s Birth Story!) I think the Deepening track is the only reason that I did not have a baby in the car on the way to the hospital! It was so soothing and empowering and I highly, highly recommend it. It is not a crazy thing to do—it does not make you nuts—but the kind of “hypnosis” (poor choice of name with a bad connotation for me) it provides is really more meditation than anything. Lots of affirmations. Lots of breathing exercises. It is just, in a word, empowering. I LOVED it.

Obviously, a drug-free delivery is not something that every woman wants. It is also not something that every woman who wants, gets. I watched the epidural used as a wonderful tool for each of my two best friends’ labors. I strongly believe that they have a place and don’t judge anyone who uses one. I just wish more women knew what I didn’t my first time around. Since I gave birth the second time, I have had the pleasure of screening several segments of More Business of Being Born (the follow up documentary to the first one, with some very candid celebrity birth stories) and it was wonderful. I feel like there is such a strong, supportive community for those of us who choose to birth this way, you just have to try reasonably hard to find it. And not listen to the zillion people who tell you that you are absolutely crazy.

So if no one else is there to tell you that you can do it, then I will be that person for you. You can birth a baby. Your body is strong. Embrace the process. Don’t get discouraged. & really think about the few things that helped me–the right OBGYN/midwife, a doula, the documentary, the book and hypnobabies–because hopefully they can help you too! :)

& if you are local and are looking for some natural birth resources in San Antonio, we are so lucky. Here are some you need to know about:

So now, it’s your turn to be supportive. Mamas, I ask you to share your birth secrets & support. Let’s make this article a resource for every woman who stumbles upon it, offering her encouragement for her birth–be it a drug-free birth, an epidural assisted one or a scheduled c-section. There is no need for anything but gentle support on this topic. I’d love to hear yours.

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  • Jessica - I do not have a birth story yet (I am due in three weeks!), but I just wanted to thank you for sharing all of this. I saw The Business of Being Born when it first came out and decided then and there that I would do it naturally. However, now that I am so close to actually experiencing labor/birth I have let the fear of the unknown creep in and start to doubt my abilities. Your suggestions and experiences could not have come at a better time for me. Thank you. Thank you.

    Also, thank you for all of your detailed information on cloth diapering (how I found you in the first place). My husband and I attended the Cloth Diapering 101 class at Go, Baby, Go this past Saturday. Again, thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Isabel North - Such a great post! I love how you don’t judge or knock other birthing methods. I’m someone who prepared for both my natural births (and not planned in a hospital) using some of these you outline and I still ended up with 2 c-sections. The first time was necessary – it was the only way my baby was going to come out after 32 hours of labor. The 2nd became necessary after 2 hours of pushing. I’m at peace with my births now and have a whole new respect for c-sections (they do save lives!) I do think there are more unnecessary c-sections than necessary and I’m with you that birthing in this country needs to change. But thank you for not writing about how horrible birth is if you have one (like most of these kinds of articles are). I delivered 2 very healthy babies and that is all that matters in the end.ReplyCancel

  • lindsay - thank you for posting this. i birthed my son naturally and drug-free. baby girl is due to come around soon and i’m very scared this time around. induction has been the key word from the beginning and i don’t believe in starting labor artificially, but also don’t believe that i can birth another over 10-pound baby.

    i wish for that cocky confidence i had the first time around. currently reading two natural childbirth books, one being ina may’s. and i think i’ll check out hypnobabies because i need all the help i can get this time around.ReplyCancel

  • Carissa - This is wonderful. I am not a momma yet but am preparing (God willing) for the time when it comes. This blog is such an encouragement! Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Christina L. - I am so thankful for The Business of Being Born. I chose to birth naturally after watching that documentary. My husband watched it with me and afterwards he asked to watch it again do we could fully absorb the material. I don’t think enough woman realize that you need to prepare your body and your mind to birth naturally. It’s not enough to just say, “I’m going to have a natural childbirth”. You need to educate yourself as much as possible on the decisions that lie ahead, because there are so many! Do you want fetal monitoring, will you allow a Heprin lock, what if your water breaks and labor doesn’t start (happened to me!), what kinds of interventions are you okay with. Make a birth plan, stick to it! Make multiple copies and share them with your provider and hand them out to the nursing staff as you are admitted. And assign an a birth advocate – mine was my husband. When you’re hormonally crazy and in the throws of labor, you might not be thinking clearly enough to answer questions about possible interventions. Talk them over beforehand with your birth advocate and let them be your voice if you can’t find yours during labor and delivery. And above all, enjoy the beautiful, wonderful, magical experience of bringing your babies into this world!ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Excellent post – it is so true that it is confidence that is lacking in so many women, from the people who proclaim you CRAZY or “just trying to be a martyr” for wanting a natural birth. I was SO lucky that my own mother and mother-in-law had all their babies without any drugs (2 for my mom, 5 for my MIL) so it really did just seem normal to me. It wasn’t any big thing. I made sure to educate myself about all my options through reading, going to a hospital birth class, talking with my providers about the birth I wanted, etc. I was also very, very lucky to be delivering at a hospital and with midwives who did not push anything on me either time.

    I have both of my birth stories written out in great detail on my blog – both hospital births, labor starting on it’s own, and I used no real “technique” for my natural births. My boy was also 10lbs, 5oz with a 15 inch head – so do not fear the big babies!! Your body can do it! Hopefully it is helpful to someone to read, and I’m sure this post will inspire many!

  • Lisa - I’m with Jessica – no birth story yet, due in 8 weeks. I saw the Business of Being Born several years ago when my now husband and I were only dating a few months. He was on the board for the SA Women’s Health Collaborative and they were previewing the movie at the Palladium. Ironically, it was also the first time I met my mother-in-law – sitting next to her watching Ricki Lake in all her glory birth her child in a bathtub! Anywho, I knew from that moment that natural childbirth was the only way to go for me. I just never knew or would have imagined that my choice would be so foreign to my family and friends and that I would have to be explaining and defending myself once I became pregnant. I am currently seeing the fabulous midwives at The San Antonio Birth Center located right in the Medical Center. This choice and my choice to have a birth without drugs or other interventions was not met with open arms or minds. Even now, with only 2 months to go, I still don’t think that my family believes I can do it. But with all of that negativity, I believe I can do it and my husband believes in me and our choice. Really, that’s all that matters. My best advice to any woman that makes the choice for a natural birth experience is to stand firm in your beliefs, believe that your body really was made for this purpose, and don’t allow yourself to be negatively affected by the nay-sayers around you. We are strong and anyone who thinks otherwise can hide and watch as we embrace, without fear, the most awe inspiring experience we could ever go through.ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca - I prepared for a non-drug birth (which I prefer to say over natural as all birth is natural even if you use drugs, have a c-section, etc) but it was not in the cards for my baby. I had gestational diabetes and as a procaution, I was induced. I still wasn’t going to get an epidural. Then I reached 7 cm, decided to move into the bathroom and told everyone that I would be having the baby on the toliet. I also yelled a lot. I was about 20 hours in and tired. I decided to get the drugs and I’m so grateful I did. In the end after almost 4 hours of pushing, I announced that I needed a c-section. I knew the baby wasn’t making her way down and I was so sore. I could feel it through the drugs. Having that epidural placed, made it easier. Now I wouldn’t have chosen a c-section but my baby needed to leave through the escape hatch which was ok. The most important thing to me was a heathy baby. Giving birth is a one day thing (or three days in my case). To me it is more important the rest of the child’s life than exactly how they came into the world. The marathon does not end on the day they are born, rather that is the start.ReplyCancel

    • Kristin - I agree with you Rebecca! I am not a fan of the term “natural birth” as well. My first babe was an emergency c-section due to breech presentation, but my second was a no-epidural (can’t say drug free because I had pitocin at the end) vaginal birth. And although my vaginal birth was the birth I had longed for since my first pregnancy, I hate to discount my first birth as unnatural. :)ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Burg - Shawna,
    This article is beautiful. I think it is wonderful when women have the birth experience they are hoping for.I’m a pretty crunchy mama, with the cloth diapers, extended bf-ing, homemade baby food and all that, and I dreamed of a natural childbirth.

    I just want to add that it is so important to not be so tied to a specific plan, that any other outcome is a severe disappointment. For my son, I did everything I could to prevent a c-section- I read Ina May religiously, had an amazing mid-wife and the best doula ever, chose the hospital in Seattle with the lowest c-section rate in the entire region, etc. I labored for 16 hours medication-free (which is crazy, because I LOVE drugs). Failure to progress combined with fetal distress led to an emergency c-section. The end result was a wonderful and healthy son, but the emotional toll of the c-section was overwhelming to me. I think it contributed to my post-partum depression.

    Now, with the twins on the way, and the first guy being breech, I have a c-section scheduled. I have been working really hard on being ok with that.

    So, I guess all I have to add to this conversation is to be prepared for anything to happen and the ideal end result is a healthy mama and a healthy baby, however that may happen. I found that easy to say and so very hard to do.ReplyCancel

  • Marian - Hello miss Shawna.
    I just gave birth to my 4th child the natural way and loved this post of yours. I couldn’t agree more on the matters you are pointing out.
    I was asked to write an article for natural birth for the greek readers.
    Would you mind my translating parts of this post in Greek while of course giving you the credit?ReplyCancel

  • Sara - I prepared for a natural child birth from the moment I found out I was pregnant. My husband & I both read several books on the Bradley method and other natural labor techniques. I was do determined to make it work. Fast forward to 40 weeks & 9 days, barely a centimeter dilated and the baby still too high. At that point my OB insisted that I get an induction. After 8 hours on pit with no pain medication, still only dilated 3-4 cm,, I asked for an epidural. Upon having my waters broken, we discovered that baby had passed meconium in utero. It was grounds for an immediate emergency section. I delivered a 5 pound 15 oz perfect baby girl & they managed to keep her from aspirating the meconium. Seven months later, I still feel a little traumatized by her birth experience. She was so tiny; she would’ve been a breeze to push out, if my body had cooperated! For whatever reason, my body just would not progress as It should. Stories like yours, having had a less than ideal first birth, followed by a perfect second, give me hope that we have another shot to experience the miracle of natural labor.ReplyCancel

    • Sara - Wow, I started reading your response thinking, “Wait did I already comment?” So many similarities to your story! I started labor naturally, but had an emergency c-section due to a breech presentation. I was and am still so angry that I was forced into a c-section when I felt I was perfectly capable of delivering him vaginally. I was in transition when they realized that he was butt down. 2 1/2 years later I’m in grief counseling for a boatload of loss, but all starting with my birth trauma & grief at the loss of the right to give birth the way I planned. Due to secondary infertility I haven’t been able to conceive again, but I like you hold out hope that a second chance might be my chance to do it how I envisioned! Thanks Shawna for sharing! I’m so glad that you had such an amazing experience. Makes me feel justified for all the work & prep I did.ReplyCancel

  • Drea - Love this post. Im due any day and this was encouraging. Last night as I rolled over and was dealing with the low back pain and discomforts you feel those last few weeks… I had a moment of fear of “Im nervous to have another baby” – even tho this is my 4th! Ive had two epidural births and my 3rd born was a natural birth experience. My 3rd however was not an easy natural birth… I had major fatigue due to a hard pregnancy, last of energy… no sleep, he was also a big baby (for me) and was face up. Everything was against me LOL but I still managed to get through it… but the 1st thing out of my mouth once he was born was “next time im getting the epidural!” – It was just so hard for me with him, especially the pushing stage. You’d think epidural pushing would of been harder but I experienced it the total opposite. pushing WITHOUT an epidural was harder for me… although I now know its because I was so tense, he was face up and they had my in a totally off position for pushing out a large face up babe… it wasnt until I sat up and was in a squat position that he finally dropped to where he needed to be.

    Any who, that being said. With this little dude I do want a natural birth again despite the hard birth experience just a few years prior… It was empowering and I also think its safer in many cases. For mom and baby.

    God is amazing and he created our body to do one unreal task! Im not against pain meds but I think our society handicaps us as women often… and makes us feel we cant do so much without their help. We really can tho :)

    Any who! thanks for the extra push today to continue my thinking process right… and stay in tune with my hopes to have baby #4 natural :) – despite the doses of fear that come.

    Oh and sadly I did not get a good practice :( – they are good in the sense they are keeping a check on baby (who is high risk) – but they are very medical. So I have had to ask a friend to be my doula… because my husband is not the best birth coach ;-) – last time around he waved me with a toilet bowl insert and was pretty much silent the entire experience. My tribal woman screams freaked him out slightly HAHAHHA

    blessings :)ReplyCancel

  • Jana - Thanks for this post! My little boy is due any day now and the husband and I have planned for a natural birth. This is such a great reminder of the things I’ve read and studied. Thanks for helping me feel more confident in my body! :)ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey - Such a great read! I had a scheduled c-section with my daughter because she was breech. I am 11 weeks pregnant now with our second child and I hope to have a natural birth. I’ve found an amazing prenatal yoga studio that offers classes on Vbacs and natural birth that I plan on attending. Thanks for the encouragement and advice!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly - Wonderful post! I’ve birthed two babies in the hospital. The first 100% drug free and the second pain med free, but pitocin induced labor after 14 days past due. I had a doula the second time around and would do it again in a second. Thanks for helping empower more mamas!ReplyCancel

  • Frannie - I love birth stories as well. I sometimes feel cheated out of a drug free natural birth- it was recommended to me to have a Csection due to several previous pelvic surgeries. I healed beautifully from them but the doctors (and I was too!) were concerned that birthing a baby naturally could creat havoc on scar tissue that had finally healed well… it is a long story but I had a fistula and several abscesses that went undiagnosed for years as the docs couldn’t figure me out. I am ever grateful that I was able to be a healthy mama to a healthy baby after spending 5 years in pain. Could I have had a natural birth and had no complications? Yes, perhaps, but I was not willing to risk putting myself and my body through the possible trauma of a fistula again and not able to be fully present with my baby. I was sore from my csection for about a week, but even that was manageable with self care and ibuprofin. My doctors were wonderful and I felt supported through the whole process. The hardest part was not being able to hold my baby right after the surgery, but she was safe with her daddy for the 20 minutes it took them to stitch me up. I think they would have helped me hold her, but I was flat on my back and it would have been almost impossible to snuggle her in the OR. I was able to recover with her and we breastfed as soon as I “met” her. I’m still nursing a year later, so that worked out as well! That was my fear, that the surgery and not being able to be skin to skin with her immediately would have adverse effects on our nursing.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - GREAT post!! I think Mamas get so caught up in how they think everyone else thinks their birth should be, as opposed to only worrying about the birth that is best for them. I was sick as a dog throughout my pregnancy, so I had the opportunity to read as many books about labor & delivery as I wanted. My faves were all by Ina May Gaskin. And I also had the mind-blowing opportunity to watch my sister (in-law) birth my nephew at home, with no drugs, in a tub of water, 6 months before I was due. That was by far the greatest thing for me – I got to see what labor & delivery were like in person and I got to see what a natural, at home, water birth looked like. I ended up having my son at the hospital w/out drugs, and any subsequent kiddos will be born in the comfort of my own home!ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - I just delivered my baby girl 9 days ago. I had 3 natural births before this one, but this was different. We had two miscarriages and found out I had a bleeding disorder, so we were already scared of another loss. Then found out she had the cord wrapped around her neck twice and had to be induced because going into labor on my own could cause her to be strangled and they needed to monitor her heart rate continuously. I had fun during the labor, was laughing with my husband, I meditated through the contractions, but overall didn’t feel much “pain”. I got to a 9, then she disengaged from the pelvis and went back up and I regressed to 6cm. The dr. had to reach her hands inside me, turn the baby, grab the baby, I was in so many uncomfortable positions and her hands hurt just as bad as anything. They had asked me to get an epidural because the chances of an emergency c section were about 50/50, but I said no. Her cord was so short now I had to get her down and out in one contraction. They asked if they could give me IV meds to help me take the edge off or rest a bit between contractions, I said no. One contraction, 3 pushes, she shot out, had the cord wrapped three times not two. It was so emotional and I am so glad we didn’t find out the sex because after all that I got to hear my husband say it was a baby girl and we are so so so in love. I was so scared of so many things, the thought of my baby not being born alive terrified me, the thought of a c section bothered me, and I was so tired, I had been up for nearly 24 hours, but I knew my body could do it.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - Shawna, LOVED this article! There were so many things that you said that I totally agree with. Mainly, that you CAN have a wonderful experience with a hospital birth. I did many of the same things as you. The Business of Being Born was also my introduction to the idea of natural birth. From there, I decided upon Hypnobirthing to help me through my labor and it was exactly what I needed. The relaxation techniques and the birthing affirmations were instrumental to getting me through my 27-hour labor (and that was AFTER my water broke, not counting the contractions that had led up to that!). My support person was my husband, who was by my side the entire time, and I couldn’t have done it without him. Just as I hit a wall, he was there to encourage me to keep going! My daughter was born at 41 weeks and 1 day, which was exactly as I predicted because I had charted my cycles. (Yup, not everyone has the textbook 28-day cycle and that “due date” is more of an estimate anyway!) I was on cloud nine after my drug-free childbirth, holding my healthy baby girl! “Magical” is the perfect word to describe it! :)

    You have a wonderful outline here for how to go about prepping. For me, I used Hypnobirthing as my education and meditation tool, which I highly recommend. Another tool I used was to see a chiropractor in my final weeks of pregnancy, to make sure that I was aligned properly and that my baby wasn’t malpositioned. This definitely alleviated the daily tailbone pain I experienced and I also believe this put me in the best position to not have the dreaded “back labor” some other moms go through. I met some wonderful, supportive people during my pregnancy and I’m so glad that you’re offering your support here!ReplyCancel

  • Isabel - I’m reading your blog for a while now and I really enjoy everything you write! I’m a 21-year old mother of a 4 month old boy, we are living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and I also gave birth to him 100% drug free. Here in Holland, it’s actually very common to give birth drug free. Here, giving birth at home is very much supported.
    It is proven that giving birth in your own home decreases the chance of any complications.

    I really don’t understand why women nowadays choose to give birth using epidurals (most of the time they scream for it at the moment your contractions are the worst: right before you start pushing). I just don’t understand why someone would choose to use any kind of medications, wasn’t the female body made to give birth in the first place?

    To be honest, I would have felt a lot more scared if I HAD used any kind of drugs. I believe your body will tell you if something is wrong, you have to feel what’s happening inside your body to know everything is okay, with you and your baby.

    Also, giving birth the natural way is such an amazing experience!!! Why choose to miss out on such an amazing and natural way of welcoming your little miracle? Especially the way your beloved child comes in to this world, will make it feel like a miracle even more. (Sorry if my english is not the best)

    I would like to encourage women to at least try to give birth the natural way, except when this isn’t possible beacause of any complications ofcourse. Thanks for the great post!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - Shawna, what a terrific post. Beautiful and non-judgmental. I had an epidural both times…the first time, I never even considered a natural birth. The hospital I delivered at had an 85% epidural rate, my doctor’s office was very pro-epidural, and I didn’t know many people who opted for natural birth. Sadly, I spent the first few days of Grace’s life with a spinal headache…and had to go back to the hospital four days after she was born for a blood patch. Argh. The headache was more intense and painful than anything (including labor, including the contractions I experienced before the epidural, anything) I’d ever experienced before. And having a newborn baby, struggling with breastfeeding…it just made it all so difficult right off the back.

    I contemplated doing a natural birth the second time around but I did little research into…I think I thought I could just wing it. I wound up having an epidural that was really successful…I felt the childbirth without much pain, I was cognizant, and there were no side effects afterward. I still think though, if (IF) we have a third, I will consider and prepare for a drug free child birth. I appreciate you sharing all the links and information above. :)ReplyCancel

  • adrianne@dreambookdesign - Loved hearing about your beautiful birth! I did a lot of the same things you did to prepare, Hypnobabies, Ina’s book, hired a great doula. I had my first baby boy on May 10- and the birth was so incredible! People told me all the time that since it was my first that there was no way I could do it drug-free since I had no idea what I was getting in to…well I did- and it was great! Here is my birth story:

    hope it can help encourage others!ReplyCancel

  • Tameeka - Thank you. My first birth experience was horrible. And still three months later I am in pain daily. I had a lot of drugs and even though I consented I felt that I was being bullied into them because of my complications, which ultimately resulted in me having a c-section. I have beat myself up about it, grieved, cried and been angry. I am at a beter place now with it all and have the future plan to be more prepared and more proactive for “next time”. So thank you for your post. I have bookmarked it and plan on reading and researching and understanding for “next time”. Right now though I need to enjoy my beautiful little man and not dwell to much on how he got here. Thanks again :)ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Thank you so much for being supportive of all of us moms out there & opening up the birthing conversation to your fabulous readership. I really appreciate your use of the term ‘drug-free birth’ & if I could make one plea to all mamas out there…can we PLEASE stop using the term ‘natural birth’ to describe a drug-free birth? As an EBFing, baby food making, CDing, c-section mama, it hurts my heart every time I hear the words ‘natural birth’ when referring to a drug-free birth. By coining one particular form of delivery ‘natural’, it implies that all other forms of delivery are unnatural – and I just don’t believe that there is anything unnatural about bringing a child into this world. Was a c-section part of my plan? Absolutely not! Was it the only way to safely get my baby here? Yup! And was I going to do whatever it took to keep my baby & myself safe above all else? Bet your ass I was!

    Despite all the planning & preparation for my birth, if it hadn’t been for my c-section neither my baby nor I would be here today, and because of that, I know it was the best decision I could have ever made. I applaud all mamas & hope that that drug-free works for me next time around, but in the meantime I am (and will always be) a proud c-section mama who hopes to bring awareness to the emotions that are behind the other side of the birthing spectrum. Thanks again Shawna for all your amazing work, putting yourself out there & providing us with a place to share without judgment. xoxo.ReplyCancel

  • Navigating the Mothership - WOOHOO!

    Yes, agree with it all.

    I had two med-free deliveries, both in a hospital with a midwife. The first I prepared for using Hypnobirthing (the class) and the second I used the home-study Hypnobabies method. I strongly recommend Hypnobabies over Hypnobirthing (a post I meant to write months and months ago, sigh).

    Anyway, here are some of my posts on this topic:

    Thoughts on achieving an unmedicated childbirth:

    Daughter’s Birth Story (Bella):

    Son’s Birth Story (Oliver):

    My birth stories are probably the most revealing, embarrassing, kickass, and emotional posts I have ever written. I’m proud of them and my births.ReplyCancel

  • Jordan - I so appreciate this post. I had a drug free birth in Nov and did a lot of what you did to prepare. I wrote my story on my blog and am so glad I did. I would use a lot of the same words to describe my experience — empowering, magical, perfect, everything I imagined it to to be, but even better. I had a water birth in a birth center and wouldn’t change a thing. I had a doula and did a lot of specific excersizes to prep – squats, kegals ;-),and pelvic rocks. (My stomach looked better after child birth than it did before thanks to those dang rocks!) I too wish more women knew their options for child birth, and most importantly I wish they trusted their bodies more. I’ve even considered becoming a doula since my experience. Anyway, thanks for sharing and encouraging the women out there that want something different — even though the people around them think they are “crazy”…. Xoxo!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny Lynn - I LOVE this article! It is a battle to find an OB that is open to drug-free births but I believe it is worth the battle! I ended up leaving my first OB because they were not supportive of my birth plan. SO thankful I did.ReplyCancel

  • Emilee - Though the details are completely different, my experience was similar. After a bad experience with an epidural birth with my first child, I was determined to do it drug free with my second–and I did! Although I did find it extremely painful, I would definitely choose drug free if I did it again. The recovery was so much better that it made the pain worth it. Thank you for talking about this openly. Drug free birth is not the right choice for everyone, but I believe everyone should know that they have a choice.ReplyCancel

  • Natalia - Hi Shawna, I love your blog and have been reading through it since I first got pregnant. I’m not 27wks and entering the 3rd trimester. I am super nervous about the whole birthing experience. Have read stories and seen videos and it’s all so scary. I’m a big whimp when it comes to pain. I terrified of hosptitals and wished to have a home water birth, but my husband is military and they just don’t do that. I have thought about going through the whole process drug free. Your tips have helped. I will look into them. I was wondering if you would share a copy of your birth plan, just so those of us like me who have no idea, get a better idea on how to make one. Thanks for sharing your stories and life with us. You are so helpful…in so many ways.ReplyCancel

  • christy - The Ina May book is so amazing. It’s so important to learn others birth stories. Read them, ask friends and family for them. You never know what someone might say that would help with your own labor & birth. One of the stories in this book is about “mooing” (instead of screaming) with contractions because it helps to relax you. Now that is what I’d call a helpful tidbit! I fought every contraction with my last birth instead of “going with each surge”. I’m pregnant with twins and blessed to hear my grandmother’s twin birth story. That was back before we did an u/s every 4wks and a c-section was expected for multiples.
    Read this book, you won’t be disappointed!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica B. - I was craving more birth stories when I stumbled upon this article. Imagine my surprise when I reached the end and read that you are local! Lauren actually delivered my first child in 2011 and now I’m less than 2 weeks away from the delivery of my second. I love Lone Star OB Gyn! My daughter’s med free hospital birth was incredible and I credit so much of that beautiful experience to the team of midwives.

    Thank you for the good reminders and affirmations from Ina- I feel like I was starting to lose a bit of my confidence as the second birth creeps closer.ReplyCancel

  • birth story in austin, cedar park and round rock texas | Austin Newborn Photographer, Austin Texas Family, Maternity, Children, Family Photographer, Sara Lopez. - […] the first thing I did when I got pregnant was start researching and planning. I found this blog post that I found really helpful. I watched The Business of Being Born. Then I watched More […]ReplyCancel

  • The Point. » styleberry BLOG - […] I was, and still am, thrilled at the media attention this might stir up for those of us who are passionate about drug-free birthing. It is always great to normalize what some people consider an “out there” choice. […]ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer S - I found your blog through Pinterest, but was reading the 33 days postpartum blog post about losing baby weight. I saw this one too and just finished reading it. I guess it’s serendipitous that I found this b/c I am one week post partum and had a drug free birth. My only preparation was from my previous delivery (baby #3). I had actually planned for an epidural, but I progressed so fast that there wasn’t time for them to insert the needle. After it was all said and done, I realized how amazing the whole process was without an epidural. I actually did it all on my own and I survived without drugs!

    So when we found out about this one (baby #4), I had already decided that I wasn’t going to have an epidural. (I’ve had experiences with an epidural and it just seemed more trouble then it was worth.) The L&D nurses kept asking me if I felt the contractions and of course I did! I just wasn’t screaming and shouting each time they came. Granted, I have a high tolerance for pain, but I also knew the pain would be temporary and it was only for that moment. Soon, my baby would be here and it would all be over.

    I think you hit it on the nail about how we (women) aren’t really educated on our choices of a drug free delivery. The option is there, but in all my pregnancies (I have four kids), not one of my doctors ever suggested a drug free delivery. The option was there, but there really wasn’t any information or encouragement to use this method. Of all my deliveries, this one was by far the most positive experience for me and my baby. In all total, I spent 34 hours in the hospital and was able to go home the next day. I even had the OB on call say I could stay one more day if I wanted to, but I didn’t feel like I needed to. I was sore and tired, but aside from that, I felt a lot better than I did from my previous deliveries.

    I’ve only read a few of your posts, but I’ve really enjoyed them.ReplyCancel

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