Doula Chats: How to have an Unmedicated Birth

June 6, 2022


“I don’t know how women do it without the epidural. They must have super-powers.”

“I don’t think I could do it without one. My pain-tolerance is super low.”

I'm sure you've heard this before. Maybe you've even said this yourself. But having a baby unmedicated has much less to do with your pain-tolerance and much more to do with your preparation. Mothers who *purposefully* birth their babies unmedicated spend time reading books, taking classes, listening to podcasts, following birth education instagram accounts, and often-times hire a doula because research shows that women who hire a one are 10% more likely to successfully birth unmedicated. Reference

So what exactly are these mothers and fathers looking at? What are they doing to prepare? Here are some of my suggestions:

Shift your Paradigm - Contractions are not painful, they are powerful.

Fear Clearing - Meditation, repeating positive affirmations to yourself over and over, creating a boundary for positive birth stories only, prayer, scripture study, etc. Fear clearing is something that you especially learn about and focus on in Hypnobirthing which is a course I highly recommend.

Birth Education - The more you understand physiological childbirth, and your options, the more control you will have over your birth experience. You will no longer be a bystander, but an empowered, and well-informed woman of strength and purpose. Here are some birth education classes, books, podcasts, videos, and instagram accounts that you may be interested in exploring:

Books: Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, The Birth Partner by Penny Simkins | Film: "The Business of Being Born" | Instagram Accounts: @mamastefit, @theautonomymommy | Childbirth Classes: Hypnobirthing, Hypnobabies, Pain Free Birth | Podcasts: Birthing Instincts, Doing it at Home

Hire me - Doulas can help you know where to start in your preparation as well as fill in the gaps that you may have missed. We spend time getting to know you and your family so that we can help you have the kind of birth experience that you’re wanting. It is my job to give you the tools, then support your decisions by remembering them and doing everything I can to make sure that they are honored.

Choose your Health Provider carefully - Physiological birth-educated/supportive providers understand that introducing interventions is often the gateway to an epidural. It’s a good idea to ask healthcare providers what their positions are on various intervention subjects such as when they typically suggest induction to their clients and how they approach induction.

Be selective of your birth team and your place of birth - Who is present at your birth plays a major role in how your body progresses during labor. A good rule of thumb when deciding who to invite to your birth is to ask yourself “would I feel comfortable pooping in front of this person?” If the answer is no, then they should not be at your birth. Being embarrassed or nervous about someone seeing you in this way will only stress you out, which leads to tension, which leads to longer labors. The same applies to your place of birth. If you are uncomfortable, you will tense up, and that is not productive for birth.

Practice - Practice the different breathing techniques, hypnosis, positions, etc. that you’ve learned about through your research and education.

Be Confident - You never know what you’re capable of until you do it. Why not you? Every other woman in the history of forever before epidurals birthed without one. So can you, regardless of what others may have said to you. All it really takes to birth unmedicated is to say to yourself over and over again, “I CAN.”

Teach your husband how to help you - One of my biggest jobs as a doula is teaching husbands how to support their wives in labor. Men are willing, and want to help, but they’ve never experienced childbirth before and don’t know what to do. That is why we invite them to childbirth education classes. We have them read affirmation cards, and teach them the different counter-pressure points. He is your biggest cheerleader and having him whisper in your ear “just one more,” or “you can do this,” can make all the difference.

I often hear mothers say they want an unmedicated birth, but they’re not sure if they can handle the pain, or if their pain-tolerance is high enough, but you don’t know what you’re capable of until you do it.

Tara Martinsen, my friend and fellow doula once said, “This power is coming from you. It’s not an outside force, it’s something that you are creating… which means you are equipped to meet it.”

I know you can do this. Trust in yourself. Trust in God. He will not fail you.


*Susan Joy is a Doula and Birth Documenter serving the families of Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, Queen Creek, San Tan, and other cities in the East Valley. The information presented here is not medical advice. All medical decisions should be made after discussion with your medical provider.*

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