It seems that every single person in the world is pregnant. I personally know ten women due in the next six months — ten. This does not include the legions of pregnant women I pass daily, each of us in desperate search of the miracle that is air conditioning. I don’t know what everyone was up to nine months ago, but apparently there was a giant no-pants party and the entire world was invited. Way to go, guys. Slow clap on all of your unprotected sex.
Given this, I have gotten more than a few emails asking how I had an unmedicated labor and if I had any tips. I thought I’d put together a quick list to help everyone along.
1. Find your mantra. My doula asked me if I had a mantra that I would like repeated during my labor process. She suggested “I am one with the universe.” I suggested that she yell “GET OUT” toward my vagina in hopes that the baby would hear it and speed things up. In the end we agreed that perhaps a mantra wasn’t for me. However, during labor I developed one that I found in the depths of my soul and repeated endlessly for the entire duration. It spoke to me. It helped me feel ok. It was, “Kill me, kill me, please god kill me.”
2. Get creative. In the labor and delivery suite I knew I didn’t want an epidural but I asked the nurse if they had laughing gas for me to breathe. It’s more and more common in hospitals now and apparently it helps you focus on slowing down your breathing and less on the contraction. She let me know that my only pain relief option was the dreaded epi. So, I got creative! I asked her if she would be kind enough to fashion a mallet and hit me in the head with it, rendering me unconscious. When she said “no,” I called her a bitch, loudly. It helped ease my pain.*
*I later apologized as someone who will be knee deep in your bodily fluids deserves respect. She shrugged and said she had been called worse.
3. Find the humor. As the baby was crowning my medical team took a step away to put on what I think were hazmat suits and fishing boots. Then they all stepped back and calmly stared into my birth canal. While I watched this happen all I could think was, “This is the weirdest orgy I’ve ever been a part of.” This phrase made me giggle and helped me push the baby out. Bonus: When your child is being an asshole teenager, feel free to tell them that the moment they came into this world you were having deep thoughts on orgies. Watch their face transform in disgust.
4. Create a playlist. I had a birth playlist. I sadly didn’t get to listen to it in the rush of my labor, but it had songs such as Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and Ice Cube’s “You Can Do It (Put Your Ass Into It).” Find the songs that bring you inner peace and potentially make the room uncomfortable. Let them share your pain.
5. Be Stubborn. Seriously though, the only way to have an unmedicated labor is to want it. You have to want it more than you have ever wanted anything ever. You will be tortured and will feel worse than you have ever felt. Someone will appear like a damn magical fairy, offering you drugs to make all of this pain go away, and you have to look that person in the eye and say “no.” The only people that can do this are stubborn assholes like me, and the insane.
6. Talk to your baby. Now is a good time to have a sit down talk with your fetus. Let them know you’d appreciate a quick and easy labor. My daughter got the memo and came in six hours. Because of this she now gets all of the ponies. Apparently all of the speaking to my belly with clear intentions and offers of bribery worked.
7. Listen to your body. If your “you can’t do it” attitude and stubbornness have failed, and the pain is just too much, get the drugs. You don’t get a medal for your trophy case and a special sticker on your driver’s license after unmedicated childbirth. Do it for you. Create your own birth story. And if you get the drugs, enjoy them, and don’t beat yourself up. In the end, you still get a baby and that is magical.