Want an unmedicated birth? 3 expert ways to get there

There is not one perfect childbirth philosophy for everyone —pick one that fits your personality and circumstance.

Want an unmedicated birth? 3 expert ways to get there

A woman's decision to labor and birth unmedicated is heavily dependent on many factors, including the her culture, her support system, her chosen provider, site of birth, availability of options—even region of the country where she gives birth.

Women who intend to have an unmedicated labor and birth can help increase the chances of being successful at doing so by doing the following 3 basic things:

Get smart on birth

First and foremost, educate yourself on the process of labor and birth.

The fear-tension-pain cycle, specific to labor and birth and first written about by Dr. Grantley Dick- Read in the 1940's, is most applicable for those women who are most fearful—those who come to labor unprepared for what lies ahead.

The more fearful a woman is, the more muscular tension she displays (for example, what many may think of as “white knuckling"—mightily gripping the bedrails as they tighten every muscle in response to pain).


The more muscular tension that a woman displays, the greater her degree of expressed pain, and the more pain she has, the more muscular tension she displays, and it goes on and on.

This is a cycle that can be broken, however; the more informed a woman is, the less fearful she is about the whole process.

Books like Active Birth by Janet Balaskis and Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper can help women inform themselves.

Hint here, look at the author's credentials of any texts you are thinking of picking up at the bookstore; someone may be a fine actor or comedian – doesn't mean they are an expert on pregnancy and birth and qualified to be giving you advice!

There are many excellent childbirth education philosophies: Birthing from Within, Lamaze, Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies to name a few – the key is to do your homework and decide what appeals to you.

There is not one perfect childbirth education philosophy for everyone and you are far more likely to utilize a method that fits your personal philosophy.

Have a "plan"

Have a birth plan, and by plan, I think of that in the same way I think of vacation plans.

Whenever we venture out on vacation we have a “roadmap" of sorts; where we are going to stay, things we want to do, sights we want to see.

That said, I have never been on a vacation that didn't involve some change of plans, whether it was a minor glitch when our hotel reservation ended a day earlier than we thought it did, or something major, like the time a pending hurricane turned us back towards home after only been on vacation for a day!

The best laid plans have provision for the unexpected, and so it is with birth plans; women who go into labor and birth with a plan that has room for change tend to be more satisfied with their ultimate experience.

Interview your birth team—then trust them

When first seeking providers important questions to ask include: what percentage of the provider's patients attempt unmedicated births, and how many succeed; the provider's epidural rate, cesarean rate, their thoughts on continuous electronic fetal monitoring vs intermittent for the low risk woman, their practice as far as women being out of bed and active during labor, eating and drinking in labor, use of the shower/bathtub in labor/birth, and use of birth positions other than supine (lying on one's back).

Hearing their responses should give one a pretty good idea of their practices, including support for unmedicated labor and birth.

Be confident that you have chosen the provider best suited to help you achieve your goal of an unmedicated birth.

Michelle R. Collins PhD is director of the Nurse-Midwifery Program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing

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Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Tenth & Pine: Gender-neutral and butter-soft basics for littles + bigs

In 2016, after a stage four endometriosis diagnosis and a 10 year battle with infertility, Tenth & Pine founder Kerynn got her miracle baby, Ezra Jade. As a SAHM with a Masters in Business, she wanted to create a brand that focused on premium quality, function, comfort, and simplicity.

She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

Lucy Lue Organics: Sustainably and ethically-produced modern baby clothes

This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

Sontakey: Simple bracelets that speak your mind

Sontakey has been such a hit in the Motherly Shop that we knew it was time to expand the line. And since these beautiful mantra bands look so stunning stacked, more options = more fun.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

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There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.


"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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