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Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Hospital Birth

Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Hospital Birth

Not sure what to pack for hospital birth? These are the absolute essentials to add to your hospital bag checklist!

We’re just sharing the absolute musts that moms say they are glad they added to their hospital bag checklist before the baby came.

Trying to think of what to pack for hospital birth can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a first-time mom. So let’s ease that stress so you can relax while you wait for your little one’s arrival instead of getting hung up on the hospital bag checklist. 

Over 20 moms gave us the inside scoop on what they thought were the most important things they packed in their hospital bag, and what they wish they would have added to their hospital bag checklist and missed. And of course, I add my own 2cents.

Use your own judgment too. This list is full of suggestions, but if you know you have worn a robe and absolutely hate them, then maybe skip it and get a comfy cardigan instead (that’s what I did).

Also consider packing your bag with plenty of time left in your pregnancy so you’re not struggling to get it together while you’re big belly is getting in the way. Plus, birth plans change you never know if things could happen a little early.

Plus, I’ve included some affiliate links, so if you purchase anything from this list I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The Essential Hospital Bag Checklist:

  • Insurance info
  • Birth Plan (extra copies)
  • Essential Oils (there are awesome PMS blends that helped me with lower back discomfort during birth)
  • Comfy Outfits (Pregnancy yoga pants, soft t’s, and warm socks were my go-to)
  • Robe or Sweater (I loved having a big comfy cardigan.)
  • FridayMom Peri Bottle (So much nicer than the peri bottles they give you at the hospital)
  • Pads and/or Mom Diapers (The hospital will usually have some for you, but if you have a preferred brand or style, then bring them)
  • Breastpump (If you don’t have one, check out Aeroflow where they help you get one for free from your insurance.)
  • Haakaa (Catch all the liquid gold leaking out while you nurse on the other side)
  • Lanolin
  • Facewash, Body wash, Shampoo, Conditioner (and one mom also recommended a detangling spray because you’ll probably be too tired to get all the knots out. The hospital usually has this stuff there, but you might prefer your own.)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Lip gloss or chapstick
  • Water Bottle (The hospital will have cups, but I liked having my own water bottle that could hold much more water.)
  • Nursing bra/tank
  • Slippers
  • Hairbands, Headbands, and Bobby Pins
  • Hairbrush
  • Phone
  • Charger for Phone (One mama made the awesome tip to get on that is extralong so it can reach where you need it to!)
  • Favorite playlist (My hubby played a specific birth playlist for me and it definitely helped me out a ton!)
  • Noise-canceling headphones (So you can tune out all that’s going on and focus.)
  • Skincare and Makeup (I didn’t bring a lot, but I did like going through the routine of some basic skincare to feel more like a human again after that first postbirth shower)
  • Your own towels, pillow, and blanket (Some mamas just can’t get comfy with the ones at the hospital)
  • Snacks (Pro-mom tip so you have fuel for late-night nursing sessions)
  • Going home outfit for you (I usually pack my favorite pregnancy outfit that is comfy. You’ll still need to wear your pregnancy clothes for a while.)
  • Going home outfit for the baby/ies (I always chose a comfy sleeper.)
  • Extra newborn clothes for at hospital (Sleepers with zippers are my fav)

And you’re all set! Follow this list curated by REAL moms and you’ll be ready to go for your hospital birth. And once you’ve got your bag packed and ready, head over here to read my twin hospital birth story for some inspo.

Did we miss anything? Share with us what was on your hospital bag checklist! Comment below with your best tips on what to pack in hospital bag.

 

Hospital Bag Checklist: What to Pack for Hospital Birth

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Birth is complicated, and it’s so common for your birth plan to changes. But the fact that curveballs are bound to come your way during birth is the biggest reason you NEED a birth plan.

When I was pregnant with my first, I had an extremely detailed birth plan, and that birth plan totally changed. Thrown out the window. But I don’t for one second regret creating it.

I cried during my childbirth, but not because of pain. No, I had been dealing with a lot of pain for about a week.  I was crying as I was getting an epidural. 

Ever since I saw Ricki Lake’s documentary, The Business of Being Born, I knew I wanted a natural childbirth. I was dead set against birthing in a hospital.

In fact, my number one choice was to birth at home, but if that didn’t work I would go to a birth center that was unattached from a hospital.

Well, needless to say, from the very beginning, it didn’t go quite as planned.

This is my birth story, and I’m going to tell you why I still think it’s important to have a birth plan, even if it doesn’t go as expected.

 

My Birth Plan

Let me start by telling you my preparations.

I chose my care provider carefully and settled on a local midwifery that had both a freestanding birth center and connections to a hospital so they could accompany me to the hospital if I would need to be transferred in case of an emergency. It seemed like the best of both natural and medical options to fall back on. 

I read some of the most influential natural birth books out there. I watched natural birth videos. I hired a doula. I took the Hypnobabies course to help with natural birth. I made a birth plan. I even set up a plan for having my placenta encapsulated.

There is no one else on the planet aside from maybe a doula or midwife who was as prepared as I was for my natural childbirth.

Maybe I would even be one of those lucky women who had an orgasmic birth!

But Birth Plans Change

The problem is… Birth is not math. There’s no magical equation to ensure that it works out perfectly every time. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that at least one thing will not go as planned.

That’s life.

Since birth is the process of bringing a human life into this world it only makes sense that you’re going to be thrown a curveball here and there.

I started having contractions early in the week of November 16.

At around 11 pm they would start and go all night but never get close together or rhythmic and would end when the sun came up. By Thursday I was pretty sure I was in active labor. So I went in to have my midwife check me, and I was 2-3 cm and 100% effaced.

Throughout that and the next night, the contractions would come and go, giving me no more than 15-30 minute stretches of sleep. Oh, and did I mention it was all back labor? Yeah.

My doula worked with me on various techniques to help get the baby into a better position to hopefully speed things up and get the pressure off my back. None of it worked.

Late Friday into early Saturday morning I again had the contractions get pretty close and consistent, 3-5 minutes apart for over an hour. So I called the doula and midwife and we headed to the birth center. 

I had progressed to 5-6 cm so we stayed, but guess what… By the time the sun came up, my labor had stopped again. 

At this point, I was exhausted from not sleeping all night. So my midwife gave me a sleep aid and sent me home to rest. The hope was my body just needed to recharge to take on the big task of pushing this kid out. So I was able to sleep most of the day, but again the contractions picked up over the night and ended in the morning.

It was now Sunday morning. We made a trip to the hospital just to get hooked up to some monitors and make sure the baby was doing well after all this stress, and yes she was doing great. Again I went home after some discussion about potentially breaking my water if things didn’t progress soon.

I got home. Showered and took another sleep aid, but less than an hour later I woke up to the most intense contractions yet.

My doula came over and we decided to head to the birth center. I had decided that either this was the real deal or I was going to go ahead with the midwife breaking my water because I was totally exhausted. 

Luckily we got there, and just when the midwife walked into the room to break my water, it broke on its own!

 

Managing Discomfort During a Long Labor

Let me pause right here to give a big shoutout to Hypnobabies, a program that teaches moms how to have a pain-free childbirth.

If you don’t know what it is, it’s a self-hypnosis/meditation technique that is used to have comfortable childbirth.

It wasn’t easy and I wasn’t comfortable for every minute of this birthing process because it was so start and stop, but without Hypnobabies, I would have been begging for an epidural on Day 1 instead of being able to naturally progress as far as I did.

Eventually, I did start making progress after my water broke, but once I got to 9cm it stopped again… I felt like I was so close and wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and head to the hospital yet. But after still a few more hours and no more progress, I agreed to go to the hospital for pitocin.

Now that I am a mom of three, I can look back on this first birth and think based on the many birth stories I have heard since, that if I would have held out just a little longer, maybe I would have starting progressing again on my own. But at the time I was a first-time mom and I was less sure of myself and my ability to natural birth a baby.

I think that’s why I chose to get an epidural and pitocin. It felt more certain than continuing to wait, and wait, and wait.

99% of birth is a mindgame. You can handle the discomfort, but the battle you’re really fighting is in your mind because it gets scary at times. That’s why even though my birth didn’t go exactly as I intended, I still totally support having a well though out birth plan because it helps you visualize what might happen so you are as prepared as possible.

It’s also why the Hypnobabies techniques were so helpful. When I was in the zone with them, I felt great physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Choosing a New Plan

Since I wasn’t getting my natural birth center birth and I was a bit afraid of how the pitocin would make me feel, I opted for an epidural.

We got to the hospital by 9pm on Sunday night and had the pitocin and epidural running by 10 pm. It still wasn’t until 5am that I was ready to push.

This kid apparently didn’t want to come out at all.

My uterus must be super cozy. My midwife and I actually discussed the possibility of going to a c-section if I wasn’t ready to push by around 5am, but luckily I was! 

The pushing was super hard work, but my daughter came into the world at 6:54 am Monday morning. 

Even though the baby and I came through this healthy and happy, it took me a while to really deal with the fact that my birth wasn’t the natural birth I had planned.

I did everything right! But my body and the baby just had other plans.

 

So, why do I still think it is so important to have a birth plan? 

I can now say that I am happy with the decisions I made during my birth because even though it wasn’t my ideal birth, I was well informed. I had thought through all the possibilities beforehand and knew what my options were. I wasn’t really thrown by the change of plans because I had planned for a change of plans as a possibility.

I also had a team and partner I trusted to help me make the decisions, and choosing that team was part of my initial planning when creating a birth plan.

Having a birth plan is so important for women to use as a way to think through all the things that could happen during birth and make a plan for them. The birth plan isn’t just about outlining your ideal birth.

It’s also about deciding when and how you will make hard decisions if they come up, and giving your care providers a clear sense of how you want them to interact with you.

Even if you are having a c-section or a hospital birth with a planned epidural, I still recommend this.

Also, it isn’t just about the birth itself, but the time directly after the birth. It sets up your expectations of how your baby will be handled, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t want anyone else deciding what happens to my baby directly after I just did all that work to bring her here (assuming no major emergency).

So I’m going to leave you with a quote because no matter whether you have a birth plan, don’t have a birth plan, had a picture-perfect birth, or it was a hot mess. This really sums up how I would love for all women to approach their birth.

“Women, don’t ever apologize for your behavior or choices during birth. When you OWN your experience and take pride in your journey, you help other women do the same thing. No matter how you did it, you just brought a human being into the world! The world should be kneeling at your feet.” -Lauralyn Curtis

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My twin boys just turned 2 today, and it felt like the right time to share my twin birth story.

This is the twin birth story of Sebastian Charles and Maximus James.

When I found out I was pregnant in Early 2017, I was so excited to plan a totally natural water birth. My natural birth plans were thwarted with my first birth when it took forever and a day, ending me up with a hospital birth.

But at our 20-week ultrasound, that plan was AGAIN tossed out.

As soon as the ultrasound tech put the wand down on my belly, my husband made a comment that there was a lot of stuff in there! A few seconds later she clicked the button next to fetuses with the number 2 and said: “there’s two in there!”

I was simultaneously shocked and not surprised at all. Maybe a little voice spoke to me or maybe it was my mother’s intuition, but I knew there were two babies. I even told my mom to expect twins before the ultrasound. And I also wasn’t surprised when we found out both were boys. I knew they would be.

But even though in my heart I knew it, it’s a totally surreal experience to have those hunches confirmed. 

It did mean a change of birth plans though. The midwifery and OB/GYN I go to only does twin births in the hospital, and the actual birth takes place in an operating room. 

Not exactly the relaxed water birth I hoped for, but I was happy with the practice and didn’t want to change providers, so we agreed to hospital birth in the OR. Not my intended birth story, but c’est la vie, I was thrilled to be having TWO babies. 

This was my second birth using Hypnobabies (a form of hypnosis used for comfortable childbirth click here to learn more), and in my first, I had used the Hypnobabies techniques to stay pretty comfortable for most of my birthing time, which was very long as I had prodromal birthing time stretching out over a week.

I planned on a birth center water birth for that one too, but I did end up consenting to both an epidural and pitocin at the hospital in the end because I was exhausted. Luckily when it came time to push, that part went smoothly!

My recovery from that birth was easy and quick, but since that birth didn’t go as planned, I wanted to do everything I could to try to make my twin birth as close to natural as possible. 

Beyond research I’ve done that shows the risks involved with epidurals, I also know people who have had very bad experiences with them. So even though it worked totally fine for my first birth, I was hoping to avoid one for the twin birth.

I had an extensive list of birth preferences and newborn care preferences because I wanted to be as prepared as possible. I am a big advocate for having a thoroughly researched birth plan that you discuss with your birth team. There might always be a change of plans, but ideally a birth plan helps you think through those twists and turns too, so you can give birth as stress-free as possible.

With a few fairly minor changes, my doctor and midwives were on board with my plans. 

I simplified my birth preferences when discussing it with nurses at the hospital to just a few basic goals though:

  1. These babies come out of my vagina
  2. No epidural or other medication that isn’t necessary for medical reasons
  3. Delayed cord clamping
  4. Skin to skin and breastfeeding for the first hour (at least)

If I was able to accomplish these four things I would feel like it was an awesome birth. And guess what… I did them all!

The toughest decision I had to make during the pregnancy was whether or not to induce.

Some studies show an increased risk of stillbirth after 38 weeks with twins. The risk is not huge, but my doctor felt it was greater than risks of induction. My midwives were kind of on the fence but wouldn’t go against the doctor’s recommendation. 

I did eventually agree to induction, but pushed it to the end of the 38 weeks and scheduled it for October, Friday the 13th. (Lucky, right? lol.)

When that day actually came I was pretty surprised I was still pregnant! In the days leading up to it, I had tried tons of natural and at-home methods of inducing, even two rounds of castor oil. Plus I had been having early birthing signs for weeks! 

But my boys were way to cozy to come out. 

So at 9:52am on the 13th I was at the hospital with an IV of pitocin.

When I arrived I was at 2cm and 70-80% effaced. We didn’t do a foley bulb or any addition medication. Just the pitocin with fluids. Within a few hours I was on the maximum dose of pitocin. 

During this time I alternated between hypnobabies tracks (which are kind of like guided meditations) and napping. Over the course of that day and night I had a few times where I felt like I was heading into my active birthing time (in case your wondering… I like using “birthing time” because it’s in line with Hypnobabies teachings, which were sooo helpful for me), but each time it fizzled out. 

The good news was I was very comfortable this whole time. In fact the most uncomfortable part was my monitors on my belly kept falling off or stopped picking up two babies and would both pick up one. So every 20-30 minutes or whenever I moved the nurses would have to come adjust them, which took 10-20 minutes each time. 

But all of them were amazed at how calm and relaxed I was even with all the poking and proding plus pitocin.

At one point I had a doctor doing an ultrasound plus 4 nurses trying to get the monitors on my properly.  A lot of the time I would just tell them I was going to listen to my tracks and would be asleep, but do what they needed to do. So I didn’t even really notice them. 

The other difficult part of this for me was not being able to eat. The hospital policy was only clear liquids, and while I may have bent those rules a little, I didn’t want to overdo it. So I was really hungry half the time. 

Once we got to 6am Saturday morning (nearly 24 hours later), I asked if we could take a break from the pitocin so I could eat, take a shower and rest for an hour or so. The midwife was fine with that because as long as it wasn’t TOO long we could pick right back up with the pitocin.

I ordered a huge breakfast, had a shower, sent my mom and husband home to shower and rest for a little, and prepared myself to start again. 

My midwives were all great about basically leaving me alone and keeping cervical checks to a minimum. I think besides when I first got there I was only checked once more in that 24 hours. They were really following my lead on how I was feeling. 

I don’t remember exactly at what time they checked but at some point I was at 4cm. We agreed that once I got to 5-6cm we might break my water if I wasn’t more active by then. It was just kind of a waiting game at that point. 

But I never got past 4cm, and around 8-9pm on Saturday my midwife suggested we just go ahead and break the water. I agreed. I was ready to either stop for a while for another break, or move forward with a new plan, a new birth story again.

So I went with the new plan. 

Since she was breaking my water anyway, she also attached a monitor to Baby A’s scalp. I thought this would be so uncomfortable, but compared to the belly monitors falling off and having to be readjusted all the time, it was so much better!

It helped me have more freedom of movement.

I was able to really get on the birth ball and walk around to help encourage the baby to get into position. He had so far been floating around in the right area, but not fully engaging. I tried all I could to get him into position before that, even having my chiropractor come to the hospital to adjust me!

Once I did all we could think of to get baby into position, I decided to try to rest.

I’m not sure how long I was laying down, but around midnight or 1am, I started to feel some activity. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but this felt promising!

My mom and doula were with me, but my husband was at home. I had sent him back to get some rest because I didn’t know if anything was going to happen that night. By 2 am I was pretty sure it was the real thing, and I told my mom to call him back.

Things happened quickly then! 

It’s so crazy because I’ve read a lot of birth stories, and I have researched a lot about birth, but your rational mind at some point goes into the background.

I started doubting myself and was worried that I was wrong and this wasn’t the real thing. I ended up crying hard for about 15 minutes because I was so emotional, but just letting myself cry between the pressure waves felt good and let me release my fears. 

At this point, I thought I was in transformation and would soon be able to push because I wasn’t getting breaks between the waves. I had stopped listening to my Hypnobabies tracks (which isn’t recommended), but was using other self-hypnosis techniques to stay calm and relaxed.

Oddly, I also would sing the first line of the Beatles “Let it Be” in my head through every super intense wave. 

I wouldn’t say I felt comfortable during this period of time, but I was calm and felt pretty confident. I felt a lot of pressure and intensity in my back, just like I had with my daughter, who was posterior. 

There were times I didn’t know if I could really do it and wanted to ALL the drugs, but I love a good birth story and after reading sooo many, I knew that many times when you feel like you can’t go on is when you’re almost there.

I don’t know at what time exactly but at some point, my midwife said we should move to the OR, but my husband still wasn’t there yet!

He got there just as we were about to get wheeled back!  

Having to be on my back on an operating table was the worst part, and by the time we moved over there I had regressed by a cm. So I had to wait for a little to push, and then when I did start my midwife helped me by holding my cervix out of the way. 

At the beginning, I could tell I wasn’t really ready to push, but it gave me something to focus on, which helped. I asked my husband to play a playlist of my favorite songs in the OR while I pushed.

I pushed my babies out to the sounds of the Beatles, James Taylor, Van Morrison and others. 

After I was pushing for about 30 minutes I actually started feeling the urge to push and could feel that I was making progress. I don’t know exactly how much longer I had to push, but it was less than 30 minutes. 

At 4:29am Sebastian Charles (Bash) was born! He was covered in vernix, barely made a peep, but just looked at me intensely and started rooting to nurse almost immediately!

While I was focused on him, the nurse and midwife gently pressed on my belly and guided the next baby into position. I gently pushed at my own pace for a little bit until I felt like I wanted to push him out. 

With 2-3 big pushes Maximus James (Max) was born at 4:46am. 

Bash was 6lbs15oz and 19in. Max was 7lbs2oz and 19in.   

I had only a small 1cm tear that didn’t even need stitches. 

The most challenging part was birthing the placenta and then the midwife and nurse pressing on my belly after birth. The risk of hemorrhage is higher with twins so they were pretty aggressive with it. Not gonna lie… that sucked.

It wasn’t the birth story I planned on originally being able to tell, but for having a twin birth induced in a hospital I think it went as perfectly as it possibly could have and I am insanely proud of myself and my little boys. 

Postpartum was also an amazing time. I had tons of emotions for the first few days as expected, but it was a much smoother transition than it was with my daughter, even though I had two newborns at home!

Breastfeeding was pretty easy since I was experienced after nursing my daughter for 2.5 years, and I had a ton of support including my husband, mom, mother-in-law, and two postpartum doulas. I was about as spoiled as a new mom could be for the first few weeks.

I also really attribute being able to have a mostly natural twin hospital birth story to using Hypnobabies, and highly recommend them to all expecting moms. (Learn more about Hypnobabies here)

My twin birth story is something I always cherish and remember.

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The Best Way to Breastfeed Twins

The Best Way to Breastfeed Twins

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5 Tips for How to Give Birth Naturally Without Pain

5 Tips for How to Give Birth Naturally Without Pain

Trying for a natural childbirth, and want to know how to give birth naturally without pain? It IS possible, mama. And these are the best ways to ease discomfort during birth.

 

Before we dive into specific natural childbirth techniques for relaxation and feeling more comfortable in birth, let’s talk about your mindset. The key for how to give birth naturally without pain is about starting with the proper preparation for your body and mind.

How do I prepare my body for natural birth?

Birth is beautiful and life-changing, but it is just as challenging, and it can also be downright scary.

One of the keys to successful natural childbirth without pain is to have confidence in yourself, your body, and the team you have chosen to support you in your birth. The more comfortable and confident you can be in these things, the more likely you will be able to find the physical and mental space needed to use these natural childbirth relaxation techniques.

And while I don’t think we should dwell on the pain or the fear of childbirth, it is also something that perhaps we should look at head on.

Instead of ignoring it, let any emotions that come with the idea of pain or childbirth bubble up to the surface so you can look at them and release them long before your birthing time comes. Most times when we lock our fears away instead of facing them, they just becoming scarier.

It’s also important to keep in mind that part of the reason a lot of women experience severe discomfort and pain in childbirth is their resistance to the process.

We’ve been conditioned by movies and pop culture depictions of birth to expect screaming and extreme pain. If I’m being honest, it isn’t exactly an easy process, but through having the right techniques you can learn to relax into the process which also makes it more comfortable. The more you resist and tighten your body up, the more painful it is.

(Not to be too explicit but…) Think about pooping or throwing up. If you strain and try to control the process too much, it isn’t very comfortable. But if you just let your body do its thing, it isn’t so bad and you usually feel so much better after.

Another point to keep in mind is not all of these techniques will work for everyone, and there is no way to know what will feel good to you until you are actually in your birthing time. Perhaps take a few notes and prep for as many eventualities as possible so you can have access to all that you need for an awesome birth.

(Side note: I am a mom of three, and am also currently in training to be a doula. These recommendations are based on a mix of personal experience and research. I also recommend some products that I am an affiliate for, which means I get a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase through my link. Of course, you should always check with your doctor or midwife.)

Plan on a water birth for pain relief if possible.

Even when you aren’t pushing a tiny human out of your vagina, water is so relaxing. There’s a reason us moms love to include bubble baths on our lists of self-care practice musts-do’s.

There’s something soothing, not just physically, but also emotionally to being submerged in some comfy warm water. It’s like we ourselves are back inside the womb and in a safe space.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a tub though. Not all birthing spaces have tubs available. Warm washcloths or compresses on the lower back and even warm showers can be just as comforting and relaxing as a full on bath. (And don’t forget to drink water as needed to stay hydrated too!)

Hypnosis and/or meditation for relaxation during birth.

Our mind is incredibly powerful. If we are able to relax our mind, our body will follow.

I have personally used Hypnobabies to relax and be pretty comfortable and at ease for most of the duration of my births. I even credit Hypnobabies with helping me to have an epidural-free twin birth in a hospital, no small feat!

I can’t say that I had absolutely no pain, but the techniques I learned and the hypnosis tracks I was able to listen to kept me relaxed enough to go with the flow and manage what my body was going through with a fair amount of ease, considering the circumstances.

Have a mantra for a natural birth.

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me…” That first line of Let it Be from the Beatles replayed over and over and over again in my mind while I was at about 8-9cm with my twins.

During every contraction, it would float through my brain as a kind of mantra. I felt the presence of other moms who had given birth before me and were even giving birth at that moment.

I didn’t plan on this, it just came to me in the moment, but I think having a mantra or something to focus on can be incredibly helpful! Many mamas even print out banners or photos with quotes or mantras on to focus on during contractions.

Use massage and counterpressure to ease discomfort during labor.

Having some hands-on help is amazing for both physical and emotional comfort. Some women may not want to be touched at all while birthing, but for me having some massage and strong pressure on my lower back was a lifesaver.

I had a lot of intensity in my back during both of my births, and the pressure from my mom, husband, and doulas during both births helped alleviate some of the pressure.

Get a doula and/or team for emotional support.

The most intense part of birth for many women is during transition just before they are ready to start pushing that little squishy baby out. It was in this period that I felt like maybe I couldn’t do it. Maybe it was just too hard for me.

A little thought in the back of my mind reminded me that in almost every birth story I read, the point at which you feel like you can’t do it anymore is the point at which you are almost there! But I also told my doula that I was feeling not so confident, and I was able to cry and just let it all out to her. Once I did, it eased my tension.

Don’t underestimate the value of a good cry. This is an emotional process and no one expects you to be robot! Remember, the key is to stay relaxed, and a big release of emotion can be super helpful, even necessary for how to give birth naturally without pain.

In addition to these five tips, you also want to set yourself up for success. This means researching more options, watching natural birth videos for inspiration, getting that birth plan done, and consider hiring a doula! (maybe even a postpartum doula too so you can rest easy knowing you’ll have some help)

The key to how to give birth naturally without pain though is to first and foremost believe in yourself and your body. If you are able to embrace the process and trust, then you are in the best place possible to give birth naturally without pain.

How to Wean a Toddler from Breastfeeding

How to Wean a Toddler from Breastfeeding

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Are Royal Births Different Than Ours?

Are Royal Births Different Than Ours?

Have you seen this meme? It’s a glowing Meghan Markle with Prince Harry and the newest royal baby, Archie on one side. On the other side, is a typical family at the hospital after a birth, with mom rockin’ some of our fav mesh panties.

 

There is no doubt that Meghan or Kate receive VIP treatment during pregnancy, birth and postpartum that many of us would dream of, but one thing about this picture made me smile and another made me laugh. (Plus this meme is actually hilarious btw…)

First of all, let’s talk about how Meghan is not hiding her postpartum baby bump. If anything, her dress seems to be emphasizing the bump. I LOVE this. It’s so weird and disconcerting when upon having your first baby you realize that your belly doesn’t just magically flatten out once the baby is out!

It takes time for your uterus to shrink, plus swelling, extra pounds, and general squishiness mean that you’re going to still look pregnant for a hot minute after giving birth. Meghan clearly is not trying to hide this fact, and I love that!

My second thought was, there is no way she is NOT wearing some form of mesh underwear under that white dress. (Seriously how big are her lady balls to wear a white dress after just giving birth? I had great births, but for days and even weeks after the amount of lochia was so intense.)

So the truth I believe is that no matter what shiny presentation of Meghan, her new baby and prince we see out here in the rest of the world… behind closed doors, their life probably looks fairly similar to the photo on the right.

Though what I mentioned above is a reality. The postpartum care they receive is in a different league than what most of us receive. (Though pressure to snack back into pre-pregnancy shape is probably greater too.)

I’m really interested to see how Meghan handles her entire postpartum experience. These royal women have an opportunity to set the tone for how we talk about and approach ourselves and our bodies postpartum.

How will she use her place of power to help women who may not have the access to the care she does? How will she use her influence to help women accept their postpartum bodies? Or will she whip her body back into it’s previous shape ASAP with the help well paid experts?

What do you think? Share with me over on Facebook or Instagram.

How to Wean a Toddler from Breastfeeding

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Giving Birth without an Epidural

Giving Birth without an Epidural

If you’re thinking about giving birth without an epidural, then you’re in the right place.

Some people might try to talk you out of planning for a natural childbirth, but with the proper mindset and plan, it is totally doable for most moms! (I gave birth without an epidural to my twins!) In this article we’ll talk about five steps to setting yourself up for the best chance for giving birth without an epidural.

1. Mindset and Owning Your Choices During Birth

From the moment you tell other people you’re pregnant you’ll be getting lots of opinions… but…

Let’s get something clear right off the bat. YOU are in charge of your birth. Not your doctor. Not your midwife. Not your partner. Not your doula. Not your mother. Not your in-laws. YOU.

This is YOUR body mama. YOU get to choose what happens. If you ever feel pressured into making any decisions then take a minute to refocus and remember. YOU are in charge. NO ONE else.

Yes your partner’s wishes might want to be taken into consideration TO A POINT. But ultimately if their feelings conflict with your own, remember YOU are the one either pushing this baby out of your vagina, or if the situation warrants it, having a major surgery to birth that baby.

Doctors, midwives, doulas, partners, friends, family… these people are all hopefully trusted allies to us in this process. The choices that need to be made, will be made by you and no one else.

So let’s own this power.

Remove this from your language, “the doctor is making me…” “my doctor said I have to…”

You don’t HAVE to do a damn thing. You might CHOOSE something based on your doctors or midwife’s recommendation, but these are your choices to make. You can say no and ask for alternatives.

2. Define your goals and visualize your dream birth

Why are planning on giving birth without an epidural? What does natural childbirth look like to you? Does that mean no medication? Epidural free? No interventions? Are you looking to have a home birth or be in a hospital? Have you considered a birth center?

The very first thing to do before anything else is to define your birth goals and visualize what your ideal birth would look like. Your ideal childbirth is probably different than it is for others moms.

When we talk about not having an epidural, most people think of that as natural childbirth, but for some a natural birth simply means a vaginal birth. For others it could be a totally unmedicated birth. For others it isn’t just an unmedicated birth but also in a serene setting outside of a hospital.

In general, a natural childbirth means that you didn’t have any interventions or medications, though it is how the mother defines this idea that matters more than any other person’s definition, in my opinion.

For example, I had an epidural-free birth with my twins, though it was in a hospital and I induced with pitocin. So it may not be a 100% totally natural childbirth, but in my book, I popped two babies out, giving birth without an epidural, so I’m gonna go ahead and count it.

I knew from the beginning that although I would have loved to have a home water birth, a hospital setting would probably be safer considering twins do create a somewhat higher risk and make the birth slightly more complicated. I was however very committed to having as natural of a birth as possible for the situation.

So my goals were to avoid as many extra interventions and medications as I could while keeping many elements of a natural birth that were important to me, like skin-to-skin and establishing breastfeeding immediately. I created a list of my must-haves for my births, and I also had a list of things I would like but were like a second tier of priorities.

Before you meet with any medical professionals and choose your birth team, think about what kind of birth you desire and then write that down.

You aren’t necessarily creating a whole birth plan at this point. You’re just getting clear on your top goals and also what you absolutely want to avoid if possible.

People say that things change in birth and you can never be certain what will happen. This is true, and I believe in preparing yourself for potential changes in plans.

However if you don’t also plan for the birth you want, then the odds of it happening are slim to none.

Having a natural childbirth is normal and natural, but unfortunately many medical professionals and hospitals are not very supportive of it. Many doctors have never even witnessed a natural childbirth, and don’t know how to actually support a mother who chooses to birth naturally.

This is why the next step is super important.

3. Choose your birth team and/or prep them on your desires

Your birth team is probably the most important aspect of planning for a natural birth without an epidural, or really any birth outcome you desire.

Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

When it comes to your birth, I believe this to be 100% accurate. You need a team that is on board with your goals and will support you in those goals.

Not all healthcare providers are going to be supportive or helpful in your goal of a natural childbirth. So if a natural birth is what you’re going for, then you will want to research and interview doctors and/or midwives who have a history of successful natural births.

In general, midwives are more familiar with and more support of natural childbirth. Doctors are trained to deal with emergencies, to perform surgery, and always be ready for worst case scenarios. Midwives usually will be more likely to be acquainted with the natural flow of birth, and will engage in fewer interventions.

This is not a hard and fast rule though. Some doctors are very supportive of natural birth, while some midwives might try to push interventions quickly.

How do you know if a doctor or midwife has a history of successful natural births? The first thing I do is ask other moms. Get into your local mom groups on Facebook and ask around. See who has had a birth similar to what you want and see who they recommend.

Then use the go-to tool of all moms. Google.

Most doctors or midwives will have reviews you can find somewhere on the internet. Some even have Yelp reviews!

But pay close attention to what women are saying. If you want a natural birth, it isn’t sufficient for women to have had a good experience with a certain professional. You are looking for women who have had successful natural births who also loved their doctor or midwife. There could be a million women who loved having a certain doctor on their birth team, but they also had inductions and epidurals for all of their births. (Which more power to her if that’s her desire for her birth, but if it is not yours, then you need to consider if that doctor is a good fit for you.)

You can also ask for the stats of that doctor, midwife, or practice. My midwifery provided me with statistics on how many of their patients had natural births vs. interventions vs. c-sections.

4. Write your birth plan

Yes, birth is unpredictable. Does that mean you shouldn’t make a plan? Hell no! You NEED a plan if you want a specific outcome.

A football team doesn’t go to the Super Bowl without knowing the plays they want to run. The plays they choose to use and when they will use them will of course change based on their opponent, but they have a lot of tools in their arsenal to win the game and make adjustments on the fly.

This is kind of how a birth plan operates. It not only outlines your ideal expectations for birth, but also how you want to handle the unexpected. (Plus one aspect I have started including in my birth plans is how I’d like my babies to be cared for, and a friendly note to my nurses.)

But beyond how a birth plan can help your birth go a bit more smoothly, and it more likely you can have a natural birth without an epidural, it also is like a research project that allows you to enter this huge task super knowledgable. 

Lisa Chen penned an article about here at Mom Uprising about how she was able to have a safe natural birth without an epidural even though her birth didn’t go as planned. She said, “My dream of having a vaginal birth seemed to be slipping away. But all of my research while preparing for birth came rushing back to me.”

All the research she did ahead of time helped her feel confident in the choices she was making, and also be able to have conversations with medical staff where she stood firm on her birth goals while also being reasonable and well informed. You wishes should be honored no matter what, but if you can come from a place of power (i.e. knowledge) you can better achieve that goal. 

5. Know what to ask during the birth

One other thing Lisa mentioned in her article, that I also have utilized in birth is to have a set of questions to ask your care providers in case they are suggesting a change of plans. Those questions are:

  • Is mom okay?
  • Is baby okay?
  • Can it wait?

Answering these questions right away will give you a clearer picture of where you are at in the birth. When you are planning for giving birth without an epidural it can sometimes be a long process. Many moms are given pitocin or prematurely c-sections when really they just need to wait it out a little bit. 

When your care provider is suggesting an intervetion or procedure during your birth, assessing whether it is an emergency, if there is danger, and if you can wait is essential.

If you learn that there is no immediate danger, then you can take a deep breath and decide what your next move is. Perhaps you decide that an intervention is needed and you want to change the plans a bit, or maybe you just want to wait and see.

Using these questions can give you that opportunity.

 

Birth is transformative. It’s probably the most intense experience most women will every go through, but you were made for this. You can be successful at giving birth without an epidural. It just takes some planning, mama.

(PS – bonus points if you also plan for postpartum period, and get yourself a postpartum doula! And for more natural birth tips, check out this post.)

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