You really don’t want it, but you can’t make up your mind for sure.
And even if you’re sure, your brain is playing tricks on you and you experience thoughts like:
“Will it be as bad as they say?”
“Will I get ‘lucky’ and it be pain-free?”
“I have a low pain tolerance. I’m not sure I’ll be able to take it even though I know that an epidural can be harmful.”
“What if I give in and end up with a c-section?”
“Eeesh! How can I avoid that epidural?”
Ease your mind, sweet lady. Here are 5 helpful tips to avoid getting the epidural, whatever your reason for not wanting it.
1) Take an out-of-hospital childbirth ed class
Ok, let me make that clear – Take an OUT-OF-HOSPITAL childbirth ed class.
Unless you live in a highly progressive area that’s 100% supportive of natural birth (which is pretty much nowhere in the USofA), the people teaching the class ARE NOT EXPERTS ON NATURAL CHILDBIRTH!
Education is one of the keys to having an empowered birth experience. But being educated on NATURAL birth is quite a different thing than being educated about JUST birth.
Although I teach women who are already in the “know” about natural birth, many women are still finding out about their options and what is even possible.
If this is you and you want an empowered birth experience and are at all interested in not getting an epidural, it’s quite vital that you take a basic childbirth ed class that teaches and supports NATURAL BIRTH.
Hospitals don’t do that.
Resources to look up are Birth Bootcamp, Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, Bradley Method etc…
If you’re new to natural childbirth, sign up for my free eBook on my homepage that will give you 7 great, practical tips to have an empowering hospital birth
2) Practice prenatal yoga and dance
There’s power, support, and strength in the pelvis. The only way to unleash it is to connect with it through your awareness.
There’s no better way to do that than starting a prenatal yoga practice and/or dancing.
Forget the kegels. Many midwives and docs will even tell you that you don’t need to do them and I too hold that view.
Much recent research has been done on the pelvic floor and it’s been found that kegels only promote more tension in the pelvic floor which isn’t what we’re going for.
We’re going for strength and balance. Exercises that release tension in the pelvic floor and promote balance instead, are more important – such as squats, and movements that loosen your hips while building muscle tone. Hello dancing?!
When you release the tension, you open up space for ease. You can help yourself avoid an epidural by doing yoga and dancing simply because both practices release tension and build tone – which makes getting a baby out easier and less painful.
Check out your area for prenatal yoga classes or Dancing For Birth classes. And read this previous blog post about why to start a yoga practice while pregnant.
3) Hire an experienced, certified doula
Hands down, if you can’t do anything else, get yoself a doula!
Maybe I’m bias because I am one (check out my services here). But, I can’t think of a better way to avoid getting an epidural than hiring someone to be there by your side cheering you on and providing all the right comfort measures at the right time without having to ask.
People who hire doulas experience a 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief.
So, if you’ve hired a doula, you’re already 9% less likely to be begging for an epidural. WAY TO START!
If you live outside of Lafayette, LA, find a doula in your area here.
4) Stay home as long as possible
Have you heard of the cascade of interventions? If not, check it out here.
As you can see, “going to the hospital too early” is one of the 3 main reasons women end up having a medical intervention.
You can easily avoid all of this.
Getting a professional, experienced doula, as mentioned above, will help you determine when IS a good time to go to the hospital because honestly, if it’s your first baby, you probably won’t know.
While at home, take advantage of the comfort being in familiar surroundings brings you.
At home you can dim the lights, lock yourself in the bathroom, sit on your toilet and do your thing letting the baby come down. *Hint, all these things are what your doula will help you with!
Waiting to go to the hospital until you’re for sure in ACTIVE labor will help you avoid getting into the epidural/cascade of intervention trap.
5) Don’t fear it
I’m sure you’ve heard it before; the law of attraction = you attract what you focus on.
Are you focusing more on how much you don’t want an epidural than you are on what you can do to have an empowering birth experience?
Be honest with yourself and act accordingly. If you’re afraid, start that childbirth ed class, research doulas in your area, and get into a prenatal yoga practice.
As Danielle LaPorte says, “What will you do today to feel the way you want to feel?”
Quit focusing on what you don’t want. Focus instead on what you do. And act accordingly.
And if you end up with an epidural in the end anyway, it’s ok!
You can still have an empowering birth experience if you get one.
With so much love,
p.s. If you live in Acadiana (Lafayette, LA area), let’s meet for coffee on me! Let’s talk all things birth. I’m open to anything. All questions welcome. All answers given. Pen me down here!
As a doula, most of my clients are willing and determined to have a natural birth. Not all of them get one. Does this mean their birth can’t be empowering? Hell no. In fact, quite the opposite.
For my clients who need a medical intervention, my job turns into something else than a bringer and barer of various comfort measures and physical labor support. They need me to bring and bare emotional support.
For the mama’s who carry the intention for a natural birth but end up needing medical intervention, we have to acknowledge that needed medicalized births carry with them hidden potential for personal empowerment too.
Let me explain the 3 hidden potentials for empowerment of the needed medicalized birth:
When a mama chooses an intervention because the medical benefit would outweigh the medical risk, she is faced with more challenges than she would have otherwise. Each challenge she faces is but another opportunity for her to remain in her power.
The first challenge that a mama faces when a medical intervention is needed is that
1) She may still have to get through “labor land”
Many times she’s already in labor before a medical intervention becomes needed. The potential for empowerment here is the same as it is for a natural birth. This potential is the challenge of letting go of any remaining fears of birth.
For the mama’s and birth professionals who know, we call this “labor land” – the place where she zones out completely because she’s looking within for the strength to get through it when she may be fully convinced that she can’t. She’s fearful that she won’t.
Through being told otherwise by her doula, midwife, and/or partner, she will get through “labor land” unscathed.
When a medical intervention is needed, however:
2) She’s faced with the challenge to let go of an outcome she didn’t necessarily want.
Not only does she walk through “labor land”, she walks through and right there in the middle she’s faced with lions and tigers where she now has to choose a path quickly – none of which she probably would have picked for herself because of the terrain.
To consciously choose a path you don’t really want but that you need…right there…that’s where letting go is the hardest of all.
Think of all the times in your life (usually in life or love) where a door has been shut. You did everything right because you really wanted to go down that path, but life’s not offering it as an option. What do you do?
You gracefully let go and chalk it up to universal protection; you pick up your big girl panties and move on right from where you’re at. Begrudgingly and all. You pick yourself up and refuse to let this stop you. You keep going.
Well, that’s exactly what mama’s have to do in labor when something unexpected happens and a medical intervention becomes needed. For you to stay in your power, you have to let go of your ideal story and deal with what you’ve got right from where you’re at.
Forget about the “why’s” and the “but I don’t understand’s”. There will be a time for that, but now (during labor and birth) isn’t it!
It’s time for you to STAY FOCUSED on how you want to feel. Do you want to feel strong? Do you want to continue to stand in your power or do you want to let the situation get the best of you and give it all away to someone who DOES NOT know better than you?
There are no guarantees in life, or love. That life part, well that most certainly includes birth.
There are no guarantees that you will have the perfect birth you’ve envisioned. But you are guaranteed the choice to choose how you react to it.
Your choices are 1: Step into your power, or 2: back down and crumble because you’re not willing to let go.
For the mama willing to let go of her ideal story and stand in her power anyway IS empowerment.
She’s claimed the parts of the story that she does have control over and let the rest be what it be’s.
The third hidden potential for empowerment of the needed medicalized birth:
3) She faces the challenge to stay present while moving through her rite of passage into motherhood
Staying present while giving birth is vital. Although not everyone is given the opportunity due to general anesthesia, doing a birth visualization exercise once conscious can be very healing for the mama’s who aren’t able to remain conscious through birth.
The entire birth event is a rite of passage. Staying as present as possible while going through it is vital.
Our culture has nearly abandoned the practice of celebrating rites of passage. It’s sad because so many people are becoming young girls, women, and mothers without the proper acknowledgment and celebration.
These days, we even dread most of these rites of passage. Getting your period? Disgusting. Becoming a women? Dirty and sinful. Becoming a mother? Who would want their freedom taken away…
And we wonder why women’s health and rights are on the line…
The mama’s who are able to remain conscious while undergoing a medical intervention during birth face the challenge of staying present and focused on walking through their rite of passage into motherhood.
It’s easy to get caught up in the sadness of having to let go of your ideal story.
But don’t worry. There will be time for the sadness to surface and come out later.
During the birth event, you need to remain present and focused on what’s happening regardless of how.
Staying present will give you the opportunity to celebrate and honor your rite of passage into motherhood. Give yourself permission to walk through this rite of passage regardless of how it happens. Doing so will empower you further.
The key is to stay present.
Honor the present.
Honor what your body’s going through.
Honor the birth event and it will honor you.
Did you want a natural birth and ended up needing a medical intervention? Did your experience feel empowering? What 1 thing helped you stay in your power? Tell us in the comments section below.
I can’t even tell you how many women want to hear from you. We read all the books like Spiritual Midwifery and hear the beautiful birth stories from mama’s who’s births went as planned.
But, so many women don’t get the birth experience they were planning for because of something that may have been completely out of their control. (breech, prolapse cord, multiples, placenta previa, placenta abruption, pre-eclampsia, way post-date etc…). Let us hear from you and how your birth experience was empowering anyway!
With so much love,