Menu

I wasn't trying to be a martyr or a saint when I refused an epidural during childbirth with my first son. I am not against necessary drugs given to women while birthing, nor do I look down upon those women who do get an epidural.

Quite simply, I have a weak stomach and absolutely hate doctors, nurses, hospitals and anything pertaining to the medical field. I chose natural childbirth so I wouldn't have to deal with any additional medical intervention. I didn't want a shot in my back or any of the possible complications or side effects that come with an epidural. Females bodies are designed to bear children, so I knew I could get through it. And I learned during natural childbirth that I do have an extremely high threshold for pain (when I need to!).

FEATURED VIDEO

With my first-born son, I stupidly failed to see all the signs that I was in labor, including the bloody show, nauseau, vomiting and period-like cramps. I was hesitant to go to the hospital because I didn't want it to be a false alarm and be sent home. But when triage examined me, we learned I was already 9.5 CMS dilated and that my son would probably be born in the next few hours.

Still, an epidural would have been possible--it's a myth that you cannot get an epidural when you are this far along. But I was set on delivering naturally.

I really wanted my mom to be in the delivery room, along with my husband, and because everything progressed so quickly, we were afraid she was going to miss it. I can't emphasize what a relief it was when she walked into the delivery room. I had to push for over two hours straight, and each time I did, my son's heartrate dropped so they almost needed to perform an emergency C-section. Thankfully he came out without such intervention, and I delivered him naturally.

I can’t stress enough how much I really did NOT want a C-section. And this rang especially true when it came time for me to have my second baby recently. With a toddler at home in addition to a newborn, I did not want any additional recovery time.

This was a much more complicated pregnancy, and she was still in breech position at 35.5 weeks. I was terrified that a C-section would be in my future. Using Eastern medicine, I was able to remedy that situation. But not before getting a good laugh from my doctor.

After researching a list of ways to turn a breech baby online, I brought it into my doctor’s office. He laughed and asked that I take a picture, or better yet videotape it, if I tried heat or music at the pubic bone. Yet, there was one technique that he wasn’t opposed to (nor laughed at). He said he had heard of some cases where moxibustion--a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing and health--had worked, and there were no adverse effects that could result from it. The worst that can happen is I burn my toe.

Moxibustion has been used for healing purposes throughout Asia for thousands of years. The purpose of moxibustion, as with most forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of Qi (energy), and enhance your overall vitality and health.

Among other benefits, a landmark study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1998 found that 75.4% of women suffering from breech presentations before childbirth had fetuses that rotated to the normal position after receiving moxibustion at an acupuncture point on the bladder meridian.

I reached out to several acupuncturists I found online who performed moxibustion. I made an appointment with Dr. Ming who I felt reassured about because she had been a medical doctor and acupuncturist since 1982, practicing both Chinese and Western medicine. She is also a member of the faculty at the NYU School of Medicine.

Truthfully, I was nervous and had no idea what to expect. I was also very doubtful that this would work. But I figured it was worth a try and was a lot less scary than the external cephalic version (ECV) procedure I had scheduled for next week if Greenlee hadn’t moved into the head down position by then. ECV would be performed by my ob/gyn in the labor unit of the hospital where he would try to manipulate/turn the baby from the outside. There’s a 60% success rate and it can result in an emergency C-section.

After filling out a form and talking to Dr. Ming, she took my pulse and asked me to stick out my tongue. Then I lied down on the table and she got to work. And guess what? At my 36 week sonogram, Greenlee was NO longer breech! I was seriously in shock that it worked. “The best $150 I ever spent!” said my husband. “What else can she cure?”

When cramps developed the evening I was 37 weeks pregnant, my husband and I knew not to play around--second babies generally come faster, and I was only in labor with Ian (my first) for a total of less than 8 hours. But once again, I prayed it was not a false alarm as we traveled by taxi at 3 am to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital from midtown Manhattan.

The doctor on-call in delivery was really pushing me to get the epidural. My husband firmly responded, "You can break her water to speed things along, but she does not want an epidural." He knew how proud of myself I was for having a natural delivery the first time and I believe Ian was much more alert as a result of it.

When the pain became so unbearable, I pushed the call button. The doctor came in and asked if I wanted him to check on my progress (I had been at about 7 CMS). He matter-of-factly told me I was crowning and it was time to push and deliver my baby girl.

After only three pushes, my darling princess entered the world measuring the same length that her brother did when I delivered him a week and a half later in my first pregnancy, and was only a few ounces smaller than him.

I was able to have natural childbirths, and I believe anyone who wants to should try it. Don't let anyone, particularly the doctors, dissuade you or talk you out of it.

Find out more about Lainie here.

Back when my husband and I were creating our wedding registry, it was a fun, low-pressure opportunity to select some new dishes and linens. After all, I knew a thing or two about stocking my home and making the "wrong decision" with thread count was the only thing that posed any risk to my sleep at night.

Fast-forward a few years to when I created a baby registry before the birth of my first child—and I found the experience to have a much steeper learning curve. Unlike those sheets, it felt like a bad swaddle or bassinet selection would be catastrophic. Unsure of what to expect from motherhood or my baby, I leaned heavily on advice from friends who already ventured into parenthood. (Starting with their reminders to take deep breaths!)

FEATURED VIDEO

Now a mom of three little ones under the age of four, I'm happy to be in a position to pass along some baby registry wisdom.

Go shopping with a veteran parent

As first-time parents, my husband and I barely knew the difference between a bouncer and a swing, let alone what specific features we would want. So when a mom friend recommended we head to Walmart to build my registry together—because she found them to carry the trendy brands she loved AND make registering a breeze during her pregnancy—I leapt at the chance.

By walking through the aisles together and actually getting to see the products, I was much more confident in my registry selections. Thanks to that quick, in-store tutorial from my friend, I understood exactly how to match a perfect infant car seat with an extra base and stroller—which is something I would have been clueless about on my own.

Include items at a variety of price points

When it comes down to it, a registry is really a wish list. So, while I had a personal budget for a stroller if it had to come out of my own pocket, this was an opportunity for me to ask for the stroller of my dreams. And, wouldn't you know it? A few family members went in on it together, which made a bigger price tag much more manageable.

At the same time, it's nice to include some of the smaller ticket items that are absolutely essential. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I was to skip buying my own diapers for those first few weeks. (With super cute patterns, these are also surprisingly fun to give, too!)

Think about the gifts you would like to give

The first time I bought a mom-to-be a gift after my own child was born, I knew immediately what to look for on her registry: a diaper bag backpack, which I had come to have very strong opinions about after battling falling straps with my first diaper bag. This allowed me to feel like I had a personal touch in my gift, even if I brought one pre-selected by her.

I also appreciate it when my friends clearly incorporate their style into their registry choices, like with adorable baby outfits or nursery decor—and there's no sweeter "thank you" than a picture from a friend showing your gift in use.

Ask for things to grow with your child

Even though it's called a baby registry, there's no need to limit yourself to gifts to use before their first birthday. (To this day, I still have people who attended my baby shower to thank for the convertible bed that my oldest child sleeps in!) Knowing that, I would have included more options with long lifespans into my registry—namely, a baby carrier that can be used during the newborn months, baby months and well into the toddler years. A well-designed baby carrier would have saved my back from serious pain because it would have allowed me to comfortably and ergonomically carry my toddler as she made her way into the 25lb+ club. One brand that's designed to grow with your baby and accommodates 7-45 pounds (up to about four years old) and offers both inward and forward-facing positions is Ergobaby. With several different design and style options, you can easily find one that caters to your parenting needs. From an all-in-one carrier, like the Omni 360, that grows with baby from the newborn stages into the toddler years or a newborn-specific carrier, like the Embrace (and don't worry you can later upgrade to a carrier for an older baby, I recommend the 360 Carrier). The best part? All ergonomic designs are supportive and comfortable for both baby and parent, offering extra lumbar support with breathable, lightweight mesh styles. Everyone (even grandparents!) can get a kick out of babywearing, which is a nice and welcomed break for parents. Having one of these on my registry would have certainly made those first few years so much easier.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

This article was sponsored by Ergobaby. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


You might also like:

Shop

Ask any mama where she has tension in her back and chances are she’ll say on the left side. That’s because research shows some 70 to 85% of women typically carry their babies on the left side of their bodies.

Keep reading Show less
News