By Joni Stewart Chanko, ICCE,TTP
By now you likely have heard and read why unmedicated births are best for baby and mom. Less well-documented is just how to answer that call to adventure!
It starts, as do many choices, with a decision and a declaration; two actions which can feel monumental at such a pivotal crossroad. Happily, the courage it takes to begin is the same courage it takes to succeed.
Standing in this can-do spirit, you step across the threshold . Top among your must-haves is a clear mind which serves to sharpen all your senses. There are tremendous resources to discover and explore which provide you with context and comfort on your journey; learning specific techniques to help you feel in control of developments. This knowledge will increase your confidence and enjoyment. If/when a doubt arises, this can be seen as a useful pause allowing time for that issue to be acknowledged and addressed.
Pregnancy offers such a timely opportunity to nurture the parts of ourselves that are often quelled or quieted in the hustle and bustle of busy lives. Instincts and intuition are marvels that, while invisible, can be some of our most reliable guideposts. Honing and honoring this set of skills is valuable both during labor and when acting on behalf of your newborn child. Each mother-to-be truly becomes the resident advocate and specialist for her body as well as that of her child’s.
The laboring phase of childbirth, being an automatic process, functions at its peak when the body and its systems are observed as significant and are retained. Emphasis on breathing and relaxation support these aspects by signaling to the body many positive biological and physiological responses. Emotions of acceptance, cooperation and trust are then generated and these become a ‘living medicine’ which can be relied upon to foster feelings of well-being now and throughout one’s lifetime.
Unmedicated birthing is appropriate for 95% of women and is available in all settings; home, birth center and hospitals. The medical attendants, nurses and doctors fulfill their responsible roles of advising and facilitating your efforts. Cultivating a few strong proponents is vital: speaking with a mom who has had a natural birth provides real and heartfelt examples of positive outcome; engaging a trained labor doula who serves as both a ‘travel guide’ for mom and liaison to staff; and a birth partner, there to experience and relish the birth alongside.
The steps here follow a tried and true approach for taking childbirth in stride. At best, it’s a simple yet profound journey of self-discovery and empowerment. In 20+ years of listening to birth stories I have not heard one mother regret her choice to have an unmedicated birth. This T.S. Eliot quote points to the power that transformation brings:
“We shall not cease from exploration, and, the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started …and know the place for the first time” T.S. Ellot