Avoiding an epidural

Are you deciding between getting an epidural or delivering your baby without drugs? Laura Kalehoff, Executive Editor of American Baby Magazine tells everything you need to know about how to go drug free during your delivery.

While the majority of women who give birth in the United States get an epidural during delivery, research shows there are advantages to skipping the pain meds. Moms who go au naturel are up faster, feel better and often experience less swelling. Plus, moms-to-be who intend to forgo the drugs make a more concerted effort to eat right, exercise and learn relaxation exercises. Laura Kalehoff, Executive Editor of American Baby Magazine tells everything you need to know about how to go drug free during your delivery.

Getting physically fit is an important part of preparing for delivery. Consider the nine months of pregnancy your training period. Start prepping for labor early by working out regularly - 30 minutes of movement, 7 days a week. Flexibility, especially in your hips, will help you when it comes time to push, so stretching sessions are important too.

One of the secrets to a natural childbirth is being able to relax in response to pain - a tall order. When you're anticipating or overtaken by contractions, your body's tendency is to stiffen, which usually exacerbates discomfort. If you can stay somewhat relaxed in the face of contractions, you'll have less resistance to opening up for the baby to come out.

Don't sit still when in labor. When you arrive at the hospital, keep moving to stay comfortable. If you're strapped to a monitor, you're bound to the bed. Ask ahead of time if your hospital allows intermittent fetal monitoring, which gives you the freedom to stand up. Walk and stretch, sit on a birthing ball. Use a combination of gravity and hip movement to help the baby come down. Movement of the hips, belly dancing, squatting and rocking will help maneuver the baby down and through the birth canal.

Visualize the finish line. There will be a point in time when you have to push. This is when most moms request epidurals. Make sure your partner knows you will need a powerful pep talk at this point.

For more information on delivering without drugs and other parenting tips, click here.

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