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newborn baby held by mama.

Tips to prepare for an unmedicated “natural” birth



Our birthing experience has the potential to be one of our most cherished memories, or one of our most traumatic experiences of our lives.

If your goal is to have a natural childbirth without the use of pain medication, then I have a few encouragements for you.

God is the one who creates new life.

The creation of a new person is a work of God, and we are only invited to participate by His amazing grace.

Acknowledging that He is the One that has designed this process can really take a lot of the fear out of it. Somehow, knowing it’s not actually up to me is a huge comfort!

*I’d like to preface this by saying the modern medical industry does a lot of things well, and we’re very grateful to have the option if needed.

However, God designed birth to be a certain way and unless there’s a medical reason to avoid the natural process, we could be missing out on a beautiful experience that God wants us to have.

I’ve birthed 4 babies naturally, and our most recent birth was a home birth. I have never experienced a high-risk pregnancy, or high blood pressure in pregnancy. There are situations in pregnancy where you will need more medical care. 

An unmedicated birth starts with your birth plan.

If you’re planning a birth center birth or a hospital birth, you should know you have the right to decline anything they want to do to speed up your labor.

Oftentimes they will offer synthetic hormones (pitocin) to augment labor. The intensity of pitocin contractions are much stronger and more painful than natural contractions (and more stressful for baby), then you are more likely to ask for an epidural.

Once you get an epidural you’re more likely to have a prolonged pushing phase (because it’s hard to push properly when you can’t feel what muscles you’re using.) Once you have a prolonged pushing phase you’re at a greater risk of having a C-section. (Usually 3 hours or so)

A C-section is a major abdominal surgery with a much longer and more extensive recovery. 

Is an unmedicated “natural” birth the harder option?

Having an unmedicated birth might seem like it will be the more difficult of the options, but it’s only harder upfront.

The recovery (not to mention Baby’s recovery) will be so much better for a natural vaginal birth.

Even recovering from an epidural can be a long and painful process.

In the United States, more than 30% of hospital births end up with a c-section. 

Babies born by cesarean birth are known to have less optimal gut biome to aid in digestion. They’re also at higher risk of asthma, coeliac disease, and food allergies. 

This is not to say that there’s any shame in having a birth that looks any certain way. 

I was personally born via cesarean section!

mom and baby after c-section birth.

So, how can we prepare ourselves for a natural delivery?

Giving birth starts in the mind. We have to feel at peace and be relaxed in order for the natural birthing hormone (oxytocin) to do what it needs to do.

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If you feel comfortable taking childbirth classes to learn about the stages of labor, that could be a great idea. But if not, we will discuss the process throughout this post. 

The biggest thing to know about natural birth is…

The biggest thing to know about the process of labor and delivery is…. you were designed for this.

pregnant woman in white nightgown.

God made our bodies (women, that is) with the ability to birth babies! Whether or not we have head knowledge of every little detail about the process of giving birth, our bodies actually know what to do.

The key is to let your body do what it wants to do. 

Preparing for an unmedicated “natural” birth during pregnancy

As you are wrapping up your third trimester and starting to mentally prepare for the big event, there are a few things you can be doing now to set yourself up for success. 

By “success” I mean: having a birth experience you look back on with love and fondness. 

newborn baby held in birthing pool.

In your last bit of pregnancy you should be walking and staying active to encourage Baby to be in the optimal birthing position.

Try to not recline too much as that lounging position can make Baby want to turn posterior (facing outward) and that won’t help labor be the best it can be. 

If you’re concerned about the position of Baby (this is actually super important) I’d recommend the rebozo. I was really skeptical about this with my last birth, but BOY did that really help things move along! 

I just went on my hands and knees on the floor and my husband used a scarf and wrapped it under my belly, and he gently lifted and slowly rocked my belly back and forth. 

Let me tell you, if you can do this… do it. Especially if the Baby’s position isn’t optimal. *Does not pertain to breech* The way the lifting of the scarf relieves the pressure on the tummy (which has been stretched to the max for many weeks) is almost luxurious.

woman giving pregnant woman a rebozo treatment with yellow scarf.

That was enough to kickstart my labor and Baby was here a few short hours later. 

Early labor will begin.

Early labor will eventually start, and it’s so easy to get really excited and hyperfocus on it. Resist that temptation.

It can be really tricky sometimes to tell if these are real contractions or if it’s just false labor. The best way to test it out is to have a warm shower or bath. If they go away they’re not the real deal.

Another great way to tell if they’re real labor contractions is to lay down. If you can fall asleep they’re not real (at least not yet!) Don’t worry, you’ll get there.

Your patience will be rewarded.

Labor is a really long process, and you don’t want to get into the thick of it and already be exhausted and frustrated with how long it’s been.

If you just keep doing other things you enjoy during the early labor as long as possible, it will greatly help you not be so exhausted and frustrated once things ramp up. 

pregnant woman on phone while cooking.

Some things you could be doing in this time are: praying, resting, snacking, meal prepping, nesting, reading, walking, etc. 

Have your support people on hot standby at this time. Make sure your healthcare provider knows how you’re feeling as well. 

Induction massage is another beautiful option, but if your body isn’t ready it will just cause a lot of prodromal labor. 

I’m not going to advise you when to head to the hospital, because I believe low-risk pregnancies can be a good candidate for home birth. Either way, talk to your health care provider (midwife).

When real labor begins

Some other signs to be watching for are: spotting or extra discharge, and emptying of the bowels. All this is normal and just making room for Baby to come down! 

As labor progresses, you’ll notice you can’t ignore the contractions anymore. My first labor I kept saying “I’m having cramps…” Those were contractions, I just didn’t know what they feel like!

Some will say it’s labor pains, but I would argue it’s not exactly pain. It’s more of a powerful pressure.

The pain definitely will increase if you resist the labor process and tense up your body when you’re having contractions.

But if you focus on relaxing every muscle in your body (especially mouth, jaw, and hands) your body will relax and the contractions will be accomplishing what they’re trying to do.  

We don’t want to make our labor take any longer than it needs to, right!?

Some great relaxation techniques are: blowing horse lips, warm water to labor in (I like to swish my hands gently in the water as they relax during a contraction), deep breathing, and vocalizing through contractions.

If you do vocalize, keep your voice low and calm.

If you get high pitched and start screaming, your energy will be going out your mouth and not focused on pressing the baby down and out. Plus you will make yourself feel unsafe, which is counterproductive.

Stay calm. You were made for this. Your baby is almost here.

pregnant woman praying.

Remind yourself all along that you’re thankful for each contraction because it’s bringing you closer to your baby.

Anyone who’s had labor stall knows how badly we WANT to go through labor and delivery. Once we’re at the end of pregnancy, we are so ready to be done… no matter what we have to go through to get there! 

As your labor progresses

It’s a good idea to have a few affirmations for yourself as you progress deeper into labor. Have a support person read them to you, or you can have them memorized.

Also, be sure to be going to the bathroom as often as you can and staying well hydrated. Having an empty bladder (and everything else) will give Baby plenty of room to come down and out.

This is where you’ll need to listen to your body. You might think you’ll want to labor on a birth ball, but once you’re in active labor it might not feel comfortable.

Maybe you always thought you’d want to walk during labor, but you find yourself wanting to to squat during contractions. Whatever it is, just listen to your body! 

When I was talking to my midwife before my most recent home birth she was telling me I could birth in any position I wanted. And to be honest, I thought that made it harder somehow!

I always thought I would just lay comfortably in my bed to labor, but due to baby’s position (hands by face…ouch) my contractions felt better while standing.

You might surprise yourself with how you’ll want to labor.

As you’re moving through the contractions and feeling Baby drop lower and lower, you might find you need to really focus in order to relax.

The bradley method recommends a specific resting position to help with relaxation in the latter parts of labor.

Basically, the key is to RELAX.

Focus on what has been working well for your relaxation techniques.

You might find yourself feeling like you might throw up as your cervix is dilating. This is totally normal (and it’s okay!).

Birth gets messy. It’s wild, primal, and beautiful. 

Some women do well to just lay comfortably and breathe deeply with the lights down low.

Talk to your birth team about what you hope for your relaxation techniques and go ahead and light some candles, or get some essential oils going. This is your birth and you get to be the boss!

Being in a delivery room in a hospital setting can be a little more tricky for setting the mood, but you can still turn the lights low, and bring in some music.

I even labored in a warm tub in my second hospital birth, and the medical professionals were very accommodating to my wishes. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want!

A fan could bring you great comfort as you warm up in the latter parts of labor. There is oftentimes a hot flash that hits before transition.

Leading up to transition

Relaxing will get a little harder to do as you approach transition. There is a spike in adrenaline (nor-adrenaline) right before it’s time to push the baby out that might make you want to panic, or give up.

Don’t panic.

This is typically when we feel like this is impossible. When that happens, it’s almost over! You’ve made it this far, you’re going to make it the rest of the way.

You were built for this.

If you feel a lot of pressure in your rectum at this time, that’s normal. Just breathe. Your body is doing what it needs to do.

As I was approaching transition with my last birth my midwife gave me some great advice.

“Try not to push, until you can’t not push.”  

Excellent advice!

If you try pushing before your body is truly ready, you could create swelling on your cervix and that could delay delivery by a lot. That is the last thing we want!

We’ve worked so hard to stay relaxed and calm, but we still don’t want it to take any longer than it needs to. 

So even when your contractions are so strong they end in a little pushy feeling, don’t push yet. Just hold on, you’re almost there.

Entering transition

These contractions are pushing the baby down and out. 

The uncontrollable urge to push has been compared to puking. You really can’t control it, but you can feel it coming on.

Just breathe deeply and STILL try to relax.  

You will begin to feel Baby descend into the birth canal. This is where I always have a moment of “I don’t think I can do this!” But don’t listen to those lies. 

The truth is in your design. Your baby is almost here. 

If you think you can still breathe through the contractions at this point, then your body will push on its own (there’s always the anomaly).

This might prove to be really difficult because at this point we just want to get this DONE!

However, once you’re ready to push and you’ve resisted the urge to push as long as possible (while remaining relaxed) it might actually feel GOOD to push. 

Let me explain. The whole time you’ve been enduring your powerful contractions, they’ve been building in power and intensity. It might not be “painful” per se, but it certainly doesn’t feel good.


pregnant woman giving birth in a hospital setting.

Once we can finally let loose and PUSH… that might just feel right. During the pushing, try not to yell and scream. Again, this will waste your energy and not focus it on the baby coming down and out. 

Above all, listen to your body. If it feels better to yell and scream, then by all means, please do!

Curling your body around your belly can really help your body push the baby out. The actual pushing phase can take anywhere from 60 seconds to a couple hours. 

You might poop while pushing. This is really common and nothing to be ashamed of.

Remember, birth is super primal. Don’t let that bother you, and just stay focused on what you’re doing… which is STILL RELAXING. (This coming from a mom who accidentally kicked a nurse while pushing.)

It bears repeating at this point: listen to your body and move around if you need to.

Your desire to squat during a contraction, or assume a runner’s lunge might just help baby move around your pubic bone, or turn just right.

Your body is brilliant and will know what to do if we can have the space to listen. Trust yourself.

The final push

Depending on how fast your birth is, you might feel your perineum stretching as Baby is getting ready to crown. These tissues were made to stretch, and if necessary tear and heal. Try not to worry too much about this. 

Finish strong. 

The actual birth of your baby will be a magical moment.

mom holding newborn in hospital.

The “I can’t believe I actually did it!” feeling of euphoria will overwhelm you and you’ll never forget this moment. Soak it up Mama. You did it.

You knew you could do it. 

Final encouragements

If your birth plan basically states you want to have an unmedicated childbirth, then I want to encourage you. Birth can be unpredictable and it’s important for us to be flexible, but we have the right to ask for what we want in a birth as well. 

You are absolutely capable of a natural birth experience, if that’s what you are hoping for. There are plenty of other comfort measures that you can employ. 

Please be sure to check out my posts on home birth preparations and postpartum essentials for more encouragement.

And remember… You can do this!

Hi, I’m Stephanie! I’m a Christian wife, mom of 4, homeschooler, and a technically trained chef. I love creating a simple, beautiful life with our sweet family.

I’m so glad you’re here!

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