It's Easier Than You May Think

I've seen a lot of women give birth. Naturally, with the help of an epidural, and some with a mixture of methods that worked for them. And then of course, the ones that didn't really have a say in the matter and barely made it into a bed before delivering their baby. But over the hundreds of deliveries I've seen, I've come to the conclusion that there is one secret to having a natural childbirth.

Pregnant woman with flowers on her stomach | PregnancyAndBaby.com

On my Facebook page this morning, there was a lively discussion about natural childbirth going on. I wrote that I was considering an all-natural birth again with this, my fourth baby. I've had pretty much every birth under the sun with my other children. A "walking" epidural with my first, a completely natural with my second under a midwife's care, and a lovely epidural with my third with a traditional OB.

"I opted for all natural and it was so much better!"

Every birth was different and every one was perfect for me and my baby at the time. What's obvious is that every woman is definitely different in how she feels about natural childbirth. For instance, one mama wrote, "I opted for all natural and it was so much better!" while another claimed, "When I picture how I was in natural labor, I picture a rabid wolf!"

Clearly what works for one does not work for all, and that's completely OK

But what is interesting to me, after witnessing countless births and experiencing three of my own, is that there is really one secret of women who achieve an all-natural birth and those who don't.

It's all mental

Now, don't get me wrong here, I know that every person experiences pain differently, too. Believe me, I know. In fact, I'm pretty sure I can't handle contractions as well as most women. I hate them and while some women describe pushing their babies out as a "relief" after contracting forever, I've cried almost every time before pushing just because I know it will hurt me, no matter how short it lasts.

But there have been women who have come in to have their babies who you would swear couldn't handle any type of pain. Teenagers, women who weigh less than 100 pounds, women crying at only 1 centimeter dilated.

But there is one thing that separates the all-natural from the epidural —

It's how badly they want the all-natural birth

Women who are in a firm, absolutely no-epidural state of mind (excluding any extraneous circumstances or interventions like, say Pitocin) will make it through without the drugs if they can stay mentally focused.

Birth is completely all mental and in my all-natural birth, the second I felt myself losing my grip mentally or letting fear of that next contraction creep in, I felt myself losing control over the pain. It takes huge, huge amounts of mental energy to "stay in the zone" so to speak. I think there's a lot to be said for preparing extensively during the pregnancy to visualize an epidural-free birth and practice that mental toughness to get through.

Sometimes, women may be undecided or simply not feel that an all-natural birth is that important to them, which of course, is completely fine, but it makes a difference as to how they perceive their labors. They may think they could "never" do labor naturally, but I really do believe it is in every woman's capability — it's simply about whether or not she wants to.

With my third, I knew I definitely did not want to go through the mental effort required to make it through a natural birth. I was tired, miserable and just wanted the birth done as quickly and easily as possible. With a four hour labor and a wonderful epidural, I got my wish and I loved my birth experience.

Every woman will know what's right for her and her birth experience, but in the end, if you decide that having an all-natural birth is important to you, know the one secret you will have to know to get through it.

Believe you can and don't lose that belief.

More on birth

Lucky Hilary Duff says labor was easy
How to speed up labor
Ask a labor nurse: 9 Things you need to know about pregnancy and birth

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