Why Choose a Non-Medicated, Natural Birth?

Today’s post is the first in the three-part series: HDYDI, Choose the Right Birth Plan; click here to read about hospital births and home birthsMy sweet southern guest today is Dianna Kennedy of The Kennedy Adventures. The two of us met via the Interwebs, over at Catholic Mothers Online. Someday she’ll be my “real life” friend, until then we’ll just lean on Skype. She’s an ER nurse, mom of five (including twins) and I love her approach to life. She’s all in. I call on her for advice for so many things, from motherhood to marriage to faith. Enjoy her southern hospitality, by way of Kentucky, for today’s post on a natural, drug-free childbirth experience. Take it, D!

As soon as a woman discovers she is pregnant, her mind begins to swirl with a million ideas. These range from what to name the baby, to plans to help older children adjust to the newest member of your family.

Whether you’re the Duchess of Cambridge or a momma from Kentucky, you’ll need to make some decisions about your ideal birth plan. Keep an open mind, as I share my reasons why I chose a natural, drug free childbirth.

1.Conventional Medicine Isn’t Your Only Option

Even though I’m a nurse, I’m not always a fan of conventional medicine. Some obstetricians treat pregnancy, labor and delivery as an illness or disease to be managed.

I hate that mindset.

While I’m well aware that things can and do go wrong during pregnancy and childbirth, I don’t like being treated like a ticking time bomb.

With Maeve, I couldn’t have been happier with my nurses and doctor. They took a hands-off approach, offering help only when I needed to deliver a healthy baby in my own style.

2. I don’t like being told what to do

I tend to do what works best for me despite the status quo. I want answers for why treatments are performed, not, ‘well, that’s our policy.’

If I don’t think a test is necessary, I politely refuse. I’m not a petulant brat, but an informed consumer. As a patient, you have the right to refuse any medical test or treatment.

3. I Don’t Like Needles or Scalpels

I’m a big fat baby and I hate getting stuck with needles.

When my urologist told me I needed surgery for the Boulder Sized Kidney Stone, I broke down and sobbed in his office.

I’m scared to death of a C-section. It’s not a ‘simple procedure’, but a major abdominal surgery. I’d gladly trade a day of labor to avoid the complications from anesthesia and recovery.

4. I am Built to Do This

Women have been having children without medications or interventions since the beginning of time. As part of God’s design, a woman’s body is made for childbirth.

After delivering my twins, I heard one of my grandmother’s birth stories.

reasons for natural childbirth

She gave birth to my father at home — he was her first baby, and weighed over 10 pounds! My husband laughs and says that ‘extreme labor’ is in my genes.

5. I Have a Supportive Husband

Mr Kennedy plays a key role in my labor decisions. He knows my routine – stay at home as long possible, keep moving during labor, and when my water breaks, it’s GO TIME!

He’s as calm as a cucumber when I’m panicking, and always encourages me when I feel like I’m at the end of my rope.

He’s smart enough to ignore me when I say, “I can’t do this!” or “Just take me home!”

husbands role in natural childbirth

He’s my very best friend, and the only doula I’ll ever need.

6. Bragging Rights

I’ve always admired women who can shoot a gun, drive a stick shift, or run a marathon.

I don’t foresee myself doing any of those things during my lifetime.

Instead, I’ve opted for natural childbirth four times, including my twins, even with a breech extraction.

Having babies naturally is my own way of being a bad ass.

7. Quicker Recovery for Mom

With my first daughter (18 years ago), I had the works.

My membranes were artificially ruptured, and I had internal monitoring of the baby. I also received Pitocin and an epidural.

I sobbed through the multiple sticks for the epidural, and distinctly remember the nurses pushing on my abdomen to guide Abigail out.

After delivery, I had a catheter and IV, and wasn’t allowed out of bed for about 6 hours, due to the risk of falling. (The epidural can cause a loss of sensation in your legs.) YUCK!

Fast forward 11 years later to Rachel’s birth, with no medication. By the time my best friend Angie visited, she had this to say:

I will never forget how beautiful you looked, how energetic you seemed, and how flexible you were! You were sitting Indian-style in the bed – I had a hard time walking for a week after both boys!

Aside from some sore nether regions, I felt fantastic, albeit a little tired.

Bottom line? I feel much better without meds on board.

8. Alert Babies

Medications given to moms during labor can effect newborn babies, including those contained in an epidural.

My children came out alert, awake and were breastfeeding within minutes of delivery.

9. Pain Doesn’t Last Forever

I won’t lie.

Natural childbirth is uncomfortable and downright hurts.

I had a particularly hard time with Maeve. I was exhausted from insomnia, and she was posterior.

Right before my water broke, I was ready to call in the anesthesia team. I’d reached my limit.

I’m reminded of this passage:

John 16:21
When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.

I’m astounded by its truth.

As soon as I get a glimpse of our sweet baby’s face, all of the discomfort is so very, very worth it.

natural childbirth

I’m ready to do it all over again.

Guest Blogger: Dianna Kennedy, The Kennedy Adventures
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  1. Christine on August 6, 2013 at 7:50 am

    I appreciate this advice. I had my first baby 6 months ago and she was an OP baby. Sunny Side Up! I did not have an epidural but did take morphine. She was born face up with a Vacuum. It hurt!!!!!! Episiotomy and all. I am not sure I could have pushed her out without assistance. So it is nice to say that our bodies are meant for this but circumstances can beat our bodies out! I wanted an epidural and the midwife tried to dissuade me. I pushed for 3.5 hours! My recovery wasn’t too bad considering the episiotomy, however I am not sure if I would go “Natural” again. Everyone is different and every birth and circumstance is different.

    • Dianna Kennedy (@DiannaKennedy) on August 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm


      I forgot to mention a birthing ball — it’s actually a big part of my birth story with Maeve. When I got to the hospital with her, I was having killer contractions, but no dilation. Thankfully, my very wise nurse suggested a birthing ball — I sat there and bounced around for two hours, until she was crowning. Phew. She was a doozy.

      It’s not for everyone, but this post discusses my reasons for my choice, which I hoped offered up some food for thought.

      Congratulations on your first baby!

  2. Erika on August 6, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Cannot agree with you more! I am a mom to almost 5 under 6! 28 weeks now with our 5 th and the 1st 4 I have done au natural even with 2/4 on pitocin. I as well am a RN and NP. I work in an ICU setting (pediatric) and see the worst of the worst. So naturally I elect to deliver in a hospital but find one that supports natural deliveries with midwives.

    It is the best choice ever. I also agree your coach needs to be just that someone who knows you fully and doesn’t let you back down.

    My husband Dan is that ( as well is actually a basketball coach) ! But times when I say I think I can’t do it anymore. He says “yes you can!” So not folding under pressure is key. I. The end it is just so worth it!

    I encourage every woman to give it a chance and stick with the plan. Once you let a little bit of “we shall see how it goes and will try to do it” the epidural gas already entered your mind! So stick with the natural plan with no reason to go the other direction!
    Best of luck to all those moms out there

    • Dianna Kennedy (@DiannaKennedy) on August 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm


      Congratulations! Phew — no meds, even on Pit? Ooph. One of my mantras is ‘stay upright, keep moving.’ Sitting in the bed kicks my butt.

      It’s funny, but my first foray into natural childbirth was, “Well, let’s see how long I can hold out.” I wanted to make my husband proud.

      Ahem. He’d better be proud of me showing up with Rachel (my second) crowning.

      He is most helpful (as your husband), in transition, when I’m ready to throw in the towel and want someone to shoot me. He reminds me that we’ll meet our sweet new baby in just a little while.

      Blessings and congratulations on your pregnancy!

  3. Amelia Bentrup (@OneCatholicMama) on August 6, 2013 at 11:53 am

    This is good advice, especially 9. I encourage moms to try going umedicated, because you don’t know how bad the pain is until you actually experience it. With my first 3 births, the pain was very manageable until the last hour (when transition hit), when it was very difficult and hard to handle…but it did only last an hour. And, that hour of intense pain was worth the alert baby and lack of medicine side-effects. WIth my 4th birth, I never hit a period of intense pain..it was very quick and easy and my water didn’t break until crowning occurred, and transition lasted only a few minutes. I choose unmedicated birth because I know that the really hard/painful part doesn’t last that long and so it’s not worth medicine side-effects just for that part.

    • Dianna Kennedy (@DiannaKennedy) on August 6, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Transition seriously kicks my butt — even looking back at my first baby, I recognize NOW that I was in transition when they were putting in my epidural! I was crying, wanting everyone to just go away and leave me alone. It’s the same things I say now in transition, without medication.

      For me, an understanding of the stages of labor helps me tremendously. If I know what’s happening to my body, I’m better equipped to handle the changes.

      Since I’ve been through labor before, I know what to expect. My challenge now is to NOT be in the car during transition — I’ve done that twice now, and it’s no fun!!

      Thanks for your input!

  4. Nicole on August 6, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I am momma to 2 kids that were both unmedicated births. I am so glad I did it that way, but I went in with the mentality that I would see how far I could go without meds. My research before delivery was enough to make me want to try ait. With my first, when I asked for some meds, they checked me and I was dialated to a 10. Too late! (I was still in triage, and they asked me to walk to delivery – um… NO!) With my second, I asked when I was about 8.5, and they said they would try to give me something. Too late again! By the time they got there with anything, I felt the need to push.

    In my opinion, no answer is right or wrong in whether a baby comes with or without medication, vaginal or c-section. Mom gets to choose, and her end result is the best, most precious gift in the history of the world.

    • Dianna Kennedy (@DiannaKennedy) on August 6, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Your story sounds much like mine with my second daughter! When they were checking me with Rachel, I said, “OK! You can go ahead and call anesthesia.” My sweet nurse said, “Oh, honey! It’s far too late for that. You’re crowning!” I about flipped.

      This week, you’ll read some great stories about why moms chose a non medicated birth, homebirths, hospital births, epidurals, planned C sections and more. Kathryn has some awesome stuff lined up!

  5. Jennifer @ Little Silly Goose on August 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Love this! I very much agree with all of your points. When I first started thinking about my birth plan, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as I am naturally inclined but had heard great things about the epidural. Upon researching it, however I quickly realized that I wanted a natural birth with minimal interventions. I had both my boys naturally– one 27 hour labor and one 4.5 hour labor that resulted in an unplanned home birth. Our unplanned home birth (my husband delivered the baby… he’s a super star) really confirmed my belief that labor is a natural, normal event and does not require (in most cases) medical intervention. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Dianna Kennedy (@DiannaKennedy) on August 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      woo! Your husband is a rock star! That’s awesome!

      Brett is incredibly supportive, and was ready to catch Maeve, since she was ready before the doctor was!

      I love how you all worked together — so inspiring!

  6. lynn @ Maven of Savin' on August 7, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I loved natural childbirth with my first 2 children – luckily they came out fairly quickly. It is so true about the recovery being easier and all the pain and anguish gone in the instant you hold them in your arms. Unfortunately I had to have a c-section for my 3rd due to other previous surgery. It is funny that though I love and believe in all your reasons for choosing natural childbirth – my MAIN reason was being afraid of the needle in my back for the epidural – LOL!

    • Dianna Kennedy (@DiannaKennedy) on August 25, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      waving ….. Hi, Lynn!

      Regarding the epidural — I know, right? So stinking scary. Eeek. I was stuck multiple times with Abigail – I was at a point where I was about to say ‘eff it! No more!’, when they finally got it in. Hindsight being 20/20, I know now that I was in transition, and with the right support, I wouldn’t have needed the epidural. Live and learn.

  7. Why Give Birth in a Hospital? on August 7, 2013 at 9:22 am

    […] post is the second in the series: HDYDI, Choose the Right Birth Plan; click here to read about non-medicated, natural births and home births. Help me welcome Lisa Schmidt, blogger at The Practicing Catholic. Lisa and I first […]

  8. Krafty Momma on August 7, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I was fortunate, with the help of a doula, to have an induced pitosin birth without pain medication.

    As my pregnancy progressed, the more I read about the side effects of the epidural for baby, the more I realized that doing it naturally was best for him.

    Due to some complications, my nurse told me that I was lucky I chose no pain meds – had I had an epidural, he was confident I would have ended up with an emergency c-section because I wouldn’t have been able to push. 🙂

    • Dianna Kennedy (@DiannaKennedy) on August 25, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Oh, yes! I know about the epidural/not being able to push. I recall the nurses pushing down on my abdomen to help guide Abby out. NO stinking fun.

      Kudos to your doula. My husband’ niece did the same as you — my hats are off to you ladies. Pit is NO fun.

  9. Why Give Birth at Home? on August 8, 2013 at 7:30 am

    […] post is the third in the series: HDYDI, Choose the Right Birth Plan; click here to read about non-medicated, natural births and hospital births. When I say she’s done it all, she has. Bonnie Engstrom, blogger at A […]

  10. Catherine on August 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Great post! I have always given birth without pain meds, including with pitocin once and another time with twins (no breech though!!). The last time was really painful, and I thought afterwards, did I have to go through that? Then a few months later, a friend gave birth, her third child but her first time without an epidural. She was just glowing afterwards about how much better it was to feel everything and how quickly she was on her feet again compared to the epidural recovery. I was surprised, and remembered, no I didn’t *have* to go through that, but I’m glad I did!

  11. Dianna Kennedy (@DiannaKennedy) on August 25, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Having been on both sides, I really was surprised at how much better I felt without the epidural effects.

    Oh yeah — the breech extraction. Holy moly — that was bad, but I kept saying, at least it’s not a C section!

  12. Pam on December 8, 2013 at 5:11 am

    Thanks so much for posting this. I’m three days past my due date with my first and begining to get nervous about my non medicated birth decision. My husband was the one who wanted me to look into it as he didn’t want our daughter drugged. I was terrified of a needle from the start so I started doing research n decided that no meds is my best option. I was suprised on how many people around me think I’m crazy. Your post really helps confirm my decision and calm my fears, thanks so much

    • Dianna on December 8, 2013 at 7:33 am


      I hope this post helps. First off, what a blessing to be pregnant during Advent! It helps me to think that Mary experienced some of the same aches and pains and concerns as we are.

      Yup …. any time you consider something a little bit off the beaten path, folks will voice their opinions. Lean on your husband, and trust your body. Prayers for a healthy baby!

  13. Cyndi on May 24, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I attended the (free) caelsss at our on-post hospital and LOVED them. The childbirth caelsss were over two nights and the teacher wasn’t too serious or too laissez-faire. Being by myself, I wasn’t made to feel out of place and used the extra nurse (a teacher trainee) as my partner.The main teacher mixed humor with matter-of-fact info and didn’t shy away from difficult questions. For example, one dad asked “What’s the worst case scenario for blahblahblah (can’t remember)?” She honestly answered, “Well, left unchecked, your baby will probably die and your wife will be very sick with XYandZ.” She didn’t laugh it off, but didn’t unduly scare us either.I have also attended the Infant Safety class, but haven’t made it to breast-feeding class yet. In Infant Safety, I liked the first teacher because she didn’t overwhelm. The second teacher tried to scare us, it seemed, especially regarding car seats. I would prefer to have all the info and make my own decision than have her cramming her opinion and judgments onto me.PS-Are you still BFing? Can you update on your progress?PPS-She used proper names for all body parts, which I loved. The jig is up, we’re all pregnant…call it a vagina!

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