Let me just say this…the goal of pregnancy is to have a healthy baby, period, end of story. There are many different ways to have that baby and having a baby without drugs is just one way of skinning the proverbial cat (whoa that’s a little weird for this topic). There is a lot of judgment flown around when it comes to childbirth. For some reason, many women want to know what type of birth you are planning on having. If it is anything outside of what they experienced, they will tell you why whatever you want ain’t. gonna. happen. Believe me, I experienced this during my pregnancy.
I had decided pretty early on in my pregnancy that I wanted to try to have a
natural (all birth is natural in my book) unmedicated birth. When people would tell me that I could and should pre-order the drugs at the hospital, I tried to politely and humbly tell them that I wasn’t planning on having any drugs. This statement was frequently met with a chuckle, eye roll, or flat out being told: “yea good luck with that lady” or “you say that now, but just wait until that first contraction hits” or something else defeating along those lines. I didn’t want to discount their experiences and maybe they were right. So, I tried to be as humble as possible while maintaining my determinate for a drug-free birth.
I thought about what I did to prepare to have a drug-free birth and here are my five tips:
Hire a doula
I had never heard the word doula before I took a class in college. It was a class about infant development and the speaker was a midwife. She explained the different types of options when it comes to giving birth. To my surprise, she didn’t smell of patchouli, wasn’t wearing a tie-dye shirt, and didn’t have Birkenstocks on. She looked like a regular lady you would see on the street. She mentioned that there is this person called a doula whose sole job is to support the Mom and Dad-to-be before, during, and after
Eight years later when I discovered I was pregnant, one of the first things I started researching was doulas. One of my good friends, who had recently given birth, took a childbirth class from a doula. She highly recommended her and gave me her name, Ashley. When I went to her website, it was like the heaven gates opened and little angels starting singing in the background. Not really, but reading through her information just felt right. I told Andrew about her and we had an appointment to meet with her the following week. Andrew and I both felt comfortable with her. I mean, could you imagine if you hired someone to be in the room with you while you gave birth and you didn’t feel comfortable around them?
During our birth (read about that here), Ashley came over to our house, told us when to go to the hospital, got us up to labor and delivery seamlessly (a task Andrew and I would have failed miserably at), kept me hydrated, reassured Andrew 100 times, and comforted me 1,000 times. She was invaluable during the birth experience. I also think taking her child birth class really allowed Andrew and I to have a better idea of what to expect realistically.
If you are even considering having unmedicated childbirth I urge you to meet with at least one doula. Check out their policies and I bet that you can meet with them to ask questions for free before you actually hire them. Having someone who has experienced literally hundreds of births of all different kinds is just a comforting person to have in the room. Labor and childbirth is no joke flipping joke. Hopefully, you get nurses and doctors with great bedside manner, who answer your list of questions and answer them in a non-annoyed way, and never leave your side (that one won’t happen), but chances are probably not. That is what a doula is for. If you want to read more about what a doula does, check out this article.
You have to be focused on your goal for childbirth early on in your pregnancy. Drug-free child birth isn’t going to just happen because you decide to do that when you are 39.5 weeks pregnant. I had decided very early in my pregnancy this was my goal. Being focused on it allowed me to ignore the nay-sayers and doubters that frequently popped up. If I wasn’t determined on having a drug-free birth, those people would have allowed me to doubt myself.
On the opposite end of this, I also practiced grace. While I was determined and focused, I also decided I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I didn’t succeed. Sure this sounds counter-productive and not a great strategy. My goal first and foremost was to have a healthy baby. Even though I was focused and visualized a drug-free birth, I told myself that it was ok if I had a C-section or an epidural.
Visualizations are a powerful tool for any goal you want to achieve. I would frequently find myself visualizing what labor would look like. I wouldn’t call it meditation because I would visualize this while working out, driving, going to sleep at night. Anytime I could have a quiet minute to myself those images were runny through my mind.
Shift your mindset away from pain
If I was to only focus on how bad contractions were going to hurt and how long I would have to suffer through them, then I think I would have pre-ordered some drugs. Just like in working out, I don’t think about muscle pain as pain, I think of it as my muscles working and growing. It’s a mindset shift.
Our doula provided us with a ton of different statements that we could adopt as mottos or birth affirmations as she calls them. Some of my favorites were “the pain doesn’t last forever” or “you can do anything for 30 seconds” or “this contraction is bringing me closer to seeing my baby”. These thoughts were running through my mind during labor when things got tough. I think I even said a few of them out loud. My mindset was on the progress I was making and not the pain.
I learned in the childbirth class that contractions came in waves and lasted for short durations of time. They would increase with intensity, peak about halfway through, and then decrease with intensity. This reminded me a lot of what it is like to do High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), which I had done for years. I decided that while doing some HIIT at the gym, I would visualize a wave instead of just watching the clock the whole time. Since I needed to close my eyes for the visualization, I couldn’t do this on the treadmill (hello accident waiting to happen). I usually did this on the air bike so I could close my eyes. Did I look weird? Sure, but I was preparing for birth!
I would start off at a medium pace and then increase it as time went on. Then, I was going the fastest speed at the halfway point and maintained that speed for about 7-10 seconds. Finally, I would then recover at a slower speed for 30 seconds before beginning the next interval. Depending on the day, I would do this for a total of 5-10 minutes. This could also be done on an elliptical, stationary bike, or possibly a stair stepper if you are really coordinated.
I don’t think this was absolutely completely necessary for my success in an unmedicated birth, but I do think it helped with my mindset. Practicing the visualizations of the wave definitely helped. I used that same visualization while I was laboring. I’m not one for meditation (quiet, calm, and eyes closed means nap time to me), so this was the best way I could practice.
Like I described, so intimately, in my birth story, I got very comfortable during labor. I had the hospital gown on for about 10 seconds before asking if I had to wear it. I already knew the answer, but I just didn’t want to strip down to close to nothing without a little warning.
In thinking about what I would want to wear during labor, I thought about what I liked to work out in. I always wear a tank top and capri length leggings. Obviously pants aren’t an option during labor. I thought about a spaghetti strapped dress or nightgown but it just seemed like a lot of fabric. Previously, I
The important thing is to try to figure out what is going to be most comfortable for you. If you don’t want all your lady bits hanging out, then find a gown or dress that is comfortable. If you aren’t comfortable because of what you are wearing (or aren’t wearing) that can stall labor from progressing. Just because every movie and tv show shows the woman in a hospital gown while giving birth doesn’t mean you have to wear that thing. This is your experience, make sure you are comfortable.
Write down birth goals
Part of Ashley’s class was to create a birth plan, also known as birth goals or birth strategies. She had tons of examples from previous clients of hers. Just like creating career goals or weight loss goals or personal goals, writing them down does something scientific in the brain to make the goals stick better (that’s the technical term). Creating birth goals does the same thing. Not only does it make the goals more of a reality, but it is also a working document to run past your birth team (doula, midwife, OB/GYN, etc.). In addition to making these goals stick, it is also a good way to advocate for yourself. Again, this is your experience and it’s ok to have a discussion about what is necessary for you.
Again, on the flip side, creating this document (and laminating it…laminating not required, but think about labor and the fluid that happens) I knew I needed to practice grace with myself. Just because it was printed and laminated doesn’t mean that it was set in stone. Of course, if something happened where I needed a C-section, I wasn’t going to stop everyone and have them refer to paragraph 3 of the birth goals (no, I didn’t actually number the paragraphs, but maybe next time…). Our birth goals just allowed us to focus on what we wanted in an ideal situation. At least with the hospital, we went to, they didn’t say “A birth plan?! What’s that?!”. They were very familiar with the idea and respectful to our wishes.
Well there you have it, my five tips for an unmedicated childbirth. What was your birth like? How did you prepare, or wish you would have prepared, for it? Leave me a comment below!
It has been a whole three months since giving birth. While I’m not expert at this mothering thing, I’m starting to get the hang of things for now. Looking back on my baby registry, I would do things a little differently for the first three months of Lawson’s life. Below are the items that we have used on a daily basis. Some of these items we received as
We used Amazon to create our baby registry. It was so easy and they provide checklists that helped guide me through the overwhelming process! The best part is the 20% off completion discount for Prime members (10% discount for non-prime members)! We were able to purchase some of the bigger tickets items at a reduced price with that discount. Amazon is just the best.
Here are my top ten items, in no particular order…
UPPAbaby Vista Stroller
When researching strollers, I landed on the UPPAbaby Vista pretty quickly. I wanted something that was versatile, grow with Lawson, and great quality. I really debated between the Vista model and the UPPAbaby Cruz. The biggest difference between the two is that the Vista will grow with additional kids. Another difference is the Vista comes with the bassinet, but not with the Cruz. You can add an additional rumble seat (the seat attached in the picture above) and they also carry a PiggyBack Ride-Along Board! You can get three kids on that thing. Now the Cruz also has a PiggyBack Ride-Along Board, but that is the only way it accommodates additional kids.
Andrew and I went to the annual Cantaloupe Festival in a nearby town when I was about 7 months pregnant. While there, we saw a family that had the Vista! They not only had the Vista, but they had two kids in it set up like the picture below. I got so excited…like too excited. It was like I saw a celebrity. I was whispering to Andrew “there’s the stroller with TWO kids in it”. Apparently, we weren’t that quiet and the parents heard us talking about their set up. The told us that they loooove their stroller and wish that they had bought it when they had their first kid. Andrew ended up pushing it around and said it still pushed like a dream and turned on a dime. I was confident that we registered for the best stroller after that.
Andrew and I went to BuyBuyBaby to “test drive” strollers and look at car seats. All of the UPPAbaby strollers drove so incredibly smooth, and turned on a dime! We use this stroller all. the. time. The UPPAbaby MESA car seat clicks into the stroller frame without any adapters and detaches with a push of a button. We use the stroller with the car seat while going grocery shopping because the basket underneath is so spacious. I also love taking Lawson on walks with the bassinet. I feel really fancy and stylish with it! It’s great for Lawson while he is too little for the rumble seat and it isn’t really necessary to have him in his car seat during a walk. The bassinet is also safe for sleeping and UPPAbaby makes a stand for it, which then can convert into a hamper. I told you the Vista was versatile!
UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat
At first, I wasn’t even considering the UPPAbaby MESA until we went to BuyBuyBaby to look at all of them. It is one of the safest car seats out there. Andrew correctly installed the base himself (we got it checked by a car seat safety technician). Behind safety, the true selling point for us was the fact that it just clicked into the stroller so easily. We also registered for an additional base to put into Andrew’s truck.
Fisher Price Auto Rock ‘n Play
We actually have two of these in our house. This one stays in Andrew’s office so he can keep an eye on Lawson while he works. This one stays in our bathroom so I can get ready while he is awake. I’ve read that some people swear by these for sleeping. The one that is in Andrew’s office automatically rocks, which is an awesome feature!
Love to Dream Swaddle Up
This is one of those items we didn’t register for but purchased at Target out of desperation. The first few weeks, Lawson didn’t mind, and I was able to successfully, swaddle him with a blanket (some of the stretchiest and best swaddle blankets I found here and here). After those first few weeks, Lawson turned into little baby He-Man and would muscle his arms right out of those blankets. He would seriously grunt like he was
Anyway, at this point I knew that using a blanket to swaddle him was over, so we moved to the Velcro type swaddles. Little Hulk Lawson would grunt and grunt and grunt and get so frustrated since he couldn’t get his arms out. The grunting was cute and all, but he wasn’t sleeping, which meant I wasn’t either. After researching, I came across this little gem, the Love to Dream Swaddle Up. This swaddle allows their hands to be up by their face, which can be more comforting and resemble their experience in the womb. I won’t say it was a miraculous purchase that led to a full night sleep immediately, but it did eliminate Lawson’s frustration of not having his hands by his face. Less frustration = more sleep for everyone!!
The DockATot was one of those must-have items I read about in almost every post! I was extremely skeptical about it. I didn’t understand how it was so amazing and life-changing for people. So I reluctantly registered for something similar that was slightly less expensive. We didn’t receive it as a gift, and I didn’t mind. When I transitioned Lawson into his crib I used a co-sleeper like this that we received as a hand-me-down. The problem I had was when he would start to cry and wiggle around. He would wiggle himself almost completely sideways in it (seriously, he is strong) and wake himself up even more. Again, no one was getting restful sleep.
I started to think maybe all the hype around the DockATot was legit. After crying (literally crying…lack of sleep does a doozy on emotions) to Andrew for about 3 days about how I thought we needed this thing, and after Andrew had slept in the nursery in our chair with Lawson (and one of our dogs), he found one used online. Now, before you gasp in germ-filled horror, we looked up if it was possible to wash the cover. It comes off and can be washed. If we really wanted to, we could have purchased a new cover. We also figured that if it wasn’t worth the hype, then it would be better to be out the money we paid for a used one, rather than the full price.
Let me tell you, I would pay full price two times over for the
So simple, yet so smart. This is a pacifier with the cutest moose attached to the end of it. WubbaNubb has all kinds of different animals, so if you have a certain theme going on you can probably find a coordinating animal. Seriously, they even have
Infant Optics DXR-8 Baby Video Monitor
I’m not really
Another nice feature is you can get additional cameras (up to 4 total cameras) to go with it and toggle between them on one monitor. Even if you don’t have 4 kids, I could see it being helpful to have a camera in a playroom to keep an eye on older kids. It has a two-way talk feature. The video screen can be disabled so it becomes just an audio monitor, which saves the battery. Overall, it’s been a great reliable monitor.
Owlet Smart Sock 2
Oh man, this is the holy grail of peace of mind! The Owlet Smart Sock 2 is a little “sock”, which is more like a wrap, that I put on Lawson’s foot at night. On the sock is an oxygen and heart rate monitor, which connects to a base I have on my nightstand and also connects to an app on my phone. If Lawson’s oxygen levels drop below 80%, an alarm sounds. This alarm is loud and it definitely causes a bit of panic. I would rather be panicked
Lawson was hospitalized with RSV for three nights when he was 8 weeks. It was the most terrible thing we have experienced so far in this parenting journey. The most frustrating thing was the only “treatment” they could give him was monitoring his oxygen levels and give him oxygen through the little nose tubes. Seriously, so sad looking. When it was coming time to discharge him, the doctor essentially gave us a choice of whether we wanted to go home or not! I was desperate to sleep in my own bed after sleeping on that pullout seat chair thing for the last three nights. I told the doctor that we had the Owlet monitor and he had even more confidence in sending us home.
As soon as we got home and Lawson took a nap, I put the Owlet monitor on him. His oxygen levels dropped and that alarm sounded off and I was immediately in tears. I told Andrew I wanted to go back to the hospital. He was so calm and reassuring that we didn’t need to jump in the car and go back. I repositioned him a few times and eventually I just had him sleep on my chest. Lawson was able to sleep great that night without any dips. Had we not had the Owlet monitor, I probably would have requested to stay in the hospital another night because there was no way to know what his oxygen levels were at! Again, peace of mind and information is a priceless thing in my book.
Fisher Price Sit-Me-Up Floor Seat
This seat makes Lawson feel like a big boy. He loves sitting up in this and watching what’s going on around him. He got his big old noggin under control around 8 weeks and that’s when I started putting him in this. It’s another nice option of a place to put the baby that isn’t on me or on his back. It folds up flat and easily taken with you. We have taken it to the Grandparent’s house for dinners for a place to put him while we eat (if he isn’t sleeping). This has a higher rate with more reviews than the Bumbo on Amazon.
There you have it. Our top 10 items for the first three months! What could you not live without during those newborn days? Tell me below.
Everyone loves a good birth story, right?!
A few weeks before my due date, November 14th, I was just starting to get uncomfortable. The discomfort really amped up the weekend before my due date. It was the most uncomfortable I had been during my entire pregnancy. I had dull period type cramps that were just not going away. I had was searching “what do contractions feel like?” and most things I had read said that they felt like period cramps, but that would come and go in waves. Mine would stay for at least 20 minutes or longer at a time. I wasn’t quite convinced that it was labor however, things were starting to happen.
Monday was a day off for Veteran’s Day and thank the
Tuesday I had a training to go to. While I was relieved to not have to be at school with my leaking self and uncomfortable cramps, I had to sit all day long and that was torturous! I was rocking back and forth in my seat, standing up and swaying in the back of the room, and continued to panic that I was leaking fluid. Many people asked me when I was due and when I said “tomorrow” I got an empathetic head tilt, like “oh yea girl, I feel ya”. My anxiety had returned that the leaking was amniotic fluid, so during a break, I decided to give my midwives a call just to run it by them. I spoke with the nurse and she said that I should definitely be checked out just to make sure.
The midwife needed to check me and swab for amniotic fluid. Luckily, the amniotic sac was still intact and I was at 1-2 centimeters! The midwife said I was probably leaking a little urine (ugh well that’s embarrassing but I guess a new reality I would have to face) and that if my water ever broke, I would know it because it would be like a gush of fluid. She also said that while I probably wasn’t having contractions, things have been progressing in the right direction, but no definitive guess for when this babe was going to be joining us. I had convinced myself that I wasn’t having this baby until the following week, the week of Thanksgiving.
Wednesday morning rolled around it was my rest day away from the gym (in hindsight, I’m so grateful for this). I was still up at 4:30 (my usual wake up time), so I laid in bed, posted my baby eviction notice post on social media and got ready for work. On my way out to start the truck around 7:30, we had our dog food delivered (thank you Amazon Subscribe and Save) the night before and we didn’t notice it on our porch. I bent over to pick it up and felt a gush. I mean a river was a-flowing, unlike the days before when it was just a little bit of “stuff”. I thought, well that’s unusual and continued to get in the truck to start it. When I hoisted myself into the truck, another gush came a-rushing. So much so that it had soaked through my sweats (see why I’m grateful I didn’t go to the gym that morning). I ran upstairs and told Andrew, “I seriously think my water just broke! My pants are soaked!”. He told me to text our doula and see what she thought. Since I had texted her just two days before about leaking fluid and the check the previous day was just urine, she thought I probably just peed myself (umm…what!?). But she told me to put on a pad, wait 30 minutes, and see what happens. Within 15 minutes, I knew my water had broken. I called my Mom and told her that my water broke but I wasn’t having contractions, but was probably going to be going into labor that day.
Ashley called me 30 minutes later and asked if I was still leaking. I confirmed that I had changed my pad two times in the 30 minutes. She told me that we needed to get this party started! My mission was to get castor oil, scramble it up with 3 eggs and eat it. I was envisioning a day full of walking, cleaning, and anxiously waiting for contractions to start. Andrew had to finish up his editing and since I was just leaking fluid without any pain, I waddled off to find castor oil with a pad on, feeling like I was peeing myself. I went to two stores and they didn’t have it! At this point, my pants were wet all the way through AGAIN, so I had to go home and change. I went to the third store and finally found it! I came home cooked and ate the egg and castor oil concoction and anxiously started to clean up the kitchen waiting to feel something.
Within 30 minutes of eating the eggs, I started feeling real contractions. They were totally different compared to the ones I was having the days leading up to this. The first ones, I would just pause in the kitchen, breathe and continue on. But after about 15 minutes of that, I needed to go upstairs in our bedroom. I had downloaded a contractor counter app and started timing the waves. In between some of the contractions, there was some action in the bathroom (hello castor oil)! Andrew came in and looked at the app. The contractions were coming every two minutes and lasting for a minute. He knew from our childbirth class that sh*t was going down.
At this point, all communication was going through Andrew because I wasn’t able to focus on anything except the contractions (and making it to the bathroom in time). Our two dogs were surprisingly calm and not laying on or right next to me, but were in the bedroom. Ashley texted Andrew to ask how I was doing and he told her how frequently the contractions were happening. Ashley then called Andrew and I heard her say “are they seriously coming that fast already”.
She came over and helped us labor at home for about an hour. Ashley then said we needed to get to the hospital. Let me tell you, that drive to the hospital while in active labor is no joke. I was in the backseat on all fours with my head in the car seat and my booty close to the window. If anyone looked in the car, I can only imagine what they thought was happening back there.
Once at the hospital, we got all checked in, after the lady
stupidly asked me if I was able to sign some paperwork. I flat out said no as I was doubled over in a wheelchair in between contractions and then laying over her desk moaning during contractions. When we got to the laboring room, I immediately crawled on the bed and got on all fours because this was the most comfortable (if you could even call it that) position I found. I got undressed and they handed me the hospital gown to put on. After having it on for about 2.5 minutes, I asked “do I have to wear this” and everyone assured me I didn’t. I was in a nursing sleeping bra and that was it…on all fours. Sorry everyone, but I didn’t even think about the specifics of that at the time.
A doctor came in to check me and she said I was at 5 centimeters and I believe my words were “oh thank god”! My biggest fear was that after all of that pain for the last 2ish hours, they were going to say I was at a 2 or 3.
After about another hour or so, Ashley noticed that I was starting to bear down during contractions. I got checked again and was at 9.5 centimeters. The nurse got me to 10 by doing some sort of painful magical maneuver during a contraction. It was pushing time. Oh my word, when people say pushing feels like taking the biggest poo of your life, they aren’t wrong. Up until this point, I was doing a pretty good job with breathing, visualizing riding a wave, and not screaming. All of that went out the window when I started to push. The birth team told me I was doing a great job and really pushing efficiently and I told them they were all lying. Andrew reassured me in between contractions that I was really making good progress. At one point I literally screamed “GET OUT” (Friends reference anyone?). Baby is
The sensation of the baby coming out was the greatest feeling of relief ever! While it felt like eternity, I was told it was 20 minutes and our baby boy was born! I was kneeling at the end of the bed and the doctor told me to reach through my legs and she handed me my baby. There are no words to accurately describe that feeling. I was holding the life that I jointly created with the man I love. The baby was perfect in every single way and WE created that. Him and I. There is nothing that we will do that will be better than creating a perfect little human.
Andrew was able to capture the most amazing pictures that we will cherish forever. They are raw and emotional and so beautiful. Holding my baby for the first time was indescribable.
From the time my contractions started to the time our baby was born was 5 hours…FIVE!! 10:30 am to 3:41 pm. The castor oil contributed to the speediness, but I’ll take some credit too!
Little man didn’t have a name until all our family was done visiting later that evening. We had a short (ish) list of names that we were toying with. Andrew was really pulling for Nash for the last few months of the pregnancy (which I thought we weren’t “cool” enough to have a kid named Nash). As soon as he laid eyes on our baby, Andrew knew he wasn’t a Nash. We both decided that he looked (and continues to) like a Lawson, which is my maiden name.
Lawson Gray Coleman born on November 14th, 2018. 7 pounds 12 ounces and 19 ¼ inches long. Every day we love him more and more.