9 ways to avoid an epidural
For many women, natural childbirth is a goal and about 65% of those who have a vaginal birth will do so without having pain relief provided by an epidural.
Dr Sarah Buckley, author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering is a huge advocate of natural childbirth, believing epidurals can, significantly interfere with some of the major hormones of labour and birth and therefore have a negative effect on how labour proceeds.
The GP/physician and mother of four has these tips for women hoping for an epidural-free birth:
Stay fit and healthy during pregnancy
Because labours can be long and taxing, your labour will greatly benefit if you can keep mobile throughout and can call on energy stores.
Try yoga and meditation techniques
Centring activities like yoga and meditation techniques help you use your breath to relax and focus.
Set a cosy scene
If you're giving birth in a labour ward, or even a birthing centre, plan ahead to bring some stuff from home that you know will make you feel at ease, like music or cuddly blankets. Make sure your birth support person is aware of what you'd like as you may be too busy to do the decorating yourself.
Embrace your contractions
Natural labour gets the oxytocin flowing at high levels through your body. This hormone of love along with accompanying beta endorphins can provide a natural pain relief which spurs your labour on.
Trust your body
Listen to what your body wants when it comes to movement, sound and breathing. If you need to groan, do it. If hands and knees make you more comfortable, go with it.
What about a doula?
These birth advocates for hire can have very positive effects on birth outcomes. In fact studies have shown if a doula is present the chances of having an epidural can lessen by up to 60%.
Dim the lights
It's animal instinct to want to retreat to a softly lit quiet place to get down to the business of giving birth. It may be difficult to dim the lights in some hospitals but talk to the midwife about possibilities.
Try to avoid medical induction
Sometimes drugs are administered to bring on and speed up labour, creating longer and stronger contractions. These can be more difficult to manage without pain relief so talk through alternatives or get your support person to, with the midwife or doctor.
Brief your midwife and support team
Make sure they know that you'd like to avoid an epidural if possible so they can help you through the difficult patches
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This article was written by Fiona Baker for Kidspot, New Zealand's best pregnancy, labour and birth resource.
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