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Can I Have An Unmedicated Hospital Birth? Yes – Here’s How!

Are you pondering the possibility of an unmedicated hospital birth?

With her experience of giving birth without pain medication and professional expertise as a childbirth educator, Jen McLellan offers invaluable advice, helpful tips, and motivation for having an unmedicated childbirth.

Unmedicated Hospital Birth plus size woman and midwife

How To Have An Unmedicated Hospital Birth

Before sharing tips for having an unmediated birth in a hospital, I think it’s important to clarify why I’m not using the words “natural birth.”

For a long time, people considered having an intervention-free birth to be a natural childbirth. But in recent years, that has shifted, as no one should feel like their childbirth is unnatural. All birth is natural!

And as you go through the tips below, remember that we can’t predict the exact course of childbirth. Still, we certainly have a substantial influence over preparing for our desired birth experience.

These are the exact steps I took to have an amazing unmedicated birth as a plus size woman that changed my life forever!

1. Build a Supportive Care Team 

Yes, showing up at the hospital alone and in labor and having an unmedicated birth is possible. But let’s talk about how to build a care team to support you and help you feel empowered!

Care Provider 

Throughout your prenatal care, you’ll want to work with a provider who supports your desire for childbirth with little intervention and no pain medication. 

Even if your provider isn’t guaranteed to be on-call during your birth, you want to get their support throughout your prenatal care. Why is this important? Because having a care provider who believes in your body’s ability to have the type of birth you desire is a game-changer!

So be sure to ask questions about how they care for people who desire to go without pain medication. 

For example, will they support you in giving birth in whatever position feels good to you at the time? What is their cesarean birth rate? 

If your pregnancy remains low-risk, can you have intermittent fetal monitoring during labor, or do they require continuous fetal monitoring that can limit your mobility and access to hydrotherapy? 

And will they sign off on your birth plan that outlines your desires for as little intervention as possible? 

Also, consider working with a midwife when selecting your care provider, as they tend to be more holistic. 

Partner / Support Person 

You’ll want to ensure that your partner, or whoever will be in the labor and delivery room with you, supports your desire to go unmedicated. So, discussing your wishes well before you’re in labor and how your team can best help you is essential.


Doulas provide families with educational, emotional, and physical support during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.

They are skilled in various comfort measures like massage, breathing techniques, and suggesting labor positions, all of which can help manage the natural discomfort of labor.

Beyond physical support, they also offer emotional backing, consistently reassuring you and your partner throughout the intense journey of childbirth.

Having an unmedicated hospital birth can require advocacy, especially if you don’t know who your care provider will be during your labor. And doulas are skilled at patient advocacy and helping you and your circle of support to speak up for your wishes.

Lastly, if you’re plus size, work to connect with a size-friendly doula!

2. Select Your Birth Location 

There’s often a big focus on finding a great care provider but only a little conversation about where to give birth. That needs to change!

You might be surprised to learn that your number one risk factor for having a cesarean birth is what hospital door you walk through!

So, when planning an unmedicated hospital birth, it’s critical to learn about cesarean birth rates and what comfort measures different facilities offer (for example, bathtubs for hydrotherapy and wireless monitors).

Many hospitals have midwifery programs, and some even have birth centers. Just be sure to inquire about any BMI restrictions.

3. Focus on Wellness

Having a low-risk pregnancy means the ability to have a low-intervention birth. So, it’s critical to focus on your wellness throughout pregnancy. And not just physical activity and nutrition but also paying attention to your mental health.

Studies show that exercise can help reduce pregnancy risks and prepare your body for the physical task of labor. In addition, nourishing your body with food that gives you fuel and nutrients is essential, along with drinking plenty of water and taking your vitamins.

Lastly, know that mental health struggles don’t just happen during postpartum – they can also occur during pregnancy. Getting help is a sign of strength, and is a fantastic resource.

4. Education and Preparation

Childbirth classes, especially unmedicated birth courses, can provide valuable information and help you and your partner prepare. Along with classes, books, listening to podcast episodes, and reading unmedicated birth stories are fantastic resources.

By becoming educated about birth, you’ll understand what your body will endure and learn helpful pain management techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, meditation, and various forms of movement.

5. Mental Preparation

Mindset is crucial for an unmedicated birth. 

Techniques like mindfulness, hypnobirthing, or positive affirmations can be beneficial. But overall, you need to believe you’ll have an unmedicated birth! 

Yes, things can change, and we can’t plan birth, but having a positive mindset and belief in your body’s ability to have an unmedicated hospital birth is essential. 

Remember, every person’s experience with childbirth is unique, and there is no one “right” way to give birth. Listening to your body, trusting your instincts, and doing what’s best for you and your baby is essential.

Learn even more during episode 200 of the Plus Mommy podcast!

Recording & Show Notes: Plus Mommy Podcast Episode 200

Transcript happily provided upon request.

my plus size pregnancy guide