Traveling With Baby

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Hi Friends!

It's been too long. Since we moved to Japan, life has been "go, go, go" and I am finally feeling like I can sit back and breathe again. This is not a fitness or nutrition post, and I was going to apologize for that, but then I remembered that that's my name at the top of this blog and I can write about whatever I want and you don't even have to read it! Lol

We have done quite a bit of traveling lately and many mama's have asked me for tips on traveling with a baby. While I am no expert, I am happy to share what has worked for us. I know when I was preparing for my first solo trip with Eleanor, I was searching all kinds of places for tips and tricks!

Here's a list of where we have traveled with corresponding hours of travel and Eleanor's age.

US to Japan; 26+ hrs; 5 months
Iwakuni to Osaka via Shinkansen (train); 6 hrs; 7 months
Japan to Guam and back; 10ish hrs; 8 months
Iwakuni to Tokyo via Shinkansen; 8 hrs; 9 months
Japan to the US and back; 26+ hrs; 12 months
Japan to Australia and back; 19+ hrs; 12 months

This might seem like a lot to some, but this is nothing compared to what's to come and what others have done. So again, I am no expert. This advice is from a mama who breastfeeds, has only ever flown alone with baby, has made mistakes, but also survived :)

Eleanor and I on our most recent trip to Australia! Already sweating as we are checking into our first flight. 

For Flying/Train:

1. Lower your expectations. Have expectations for an upcoming trip with baby? Go ahead and do yourself a favor and just drop them at least 5 points 😂 Some might think this is negative thinking, but I think the lower your expectations are, the happier you'll be when things go better! There are going to be tough times. It's not going to be easy. But it IS possible! Give yourself some grace, give your baby some grace and remember that no matter what happens, the end result is the same. Don't worry about the person sitting next to you when your baby starts to scream. You'll [probably] never see them again!

2. Sleep when your baby sleeps. I know, I know. This was my least favorite advice as a new mom, too. But it actually applies here, okay? Hear me out! Just sleep. This includes the night before! Don't pull an all-nighter to try to get ahead of the time change (if there is one). This might have worked pre-baby, but you can't just assume baby and you will sleep on the plane. During the flight, at least try to close your eyes while they sleep even if you're not tired. Rest up! It could be the only 30 minutes they sleep! I humor myself and bring a book to read every time I travel and not once have I been able to open it lol I do always have my eye mask and neck pillow though because this mama needs darkness to sleep! You can't risk being exhausted, especially if you're traveling alone.

3. Bring a stroller. This is apparently a controversial topic in the travel blog world, but this is my blog (lol) and I say DO IT from age 6 months on. Under 6 months, baby is content in a baby carrier and a stroller would just be too much to open and close through security, at the gate, at baggage claim, and so on. But, 6 months+, your baby is getting heavier, and you both might want some space before and after being on an airplane where you have to hold them in your lap. Plus, it's a great bag carrier if you need it! I have been eying this stroller for awhile that fits in the overhead compartment of an aircraft so that you don't have to check it at the gate. This is crucial for international travel IMO. It has happened to me twice now that I gate checked a stroller and it got sent to baggage claim, leaving me to hold Eleanor while waiting through the loooooong customs line after a loooooong flight. Woof.

4. Wear your baby. The Wild Bird Ring Sling has been my go-to since Eleanor was a teeny tiny baby up until now (12 months) and I'm sure beyond! I have the single solid and the Modal...I love them both! However, I did sport the Tula when she was 5-8 months because it was an almost guarantee she would sleep in it. It has the head cover attachment which Eleanor loved. Baby wearing is crucial for having two hands! Especially if you are traveling alone and don't have a stroller or if you have to check it.

5. REQUEST THE BASSINET SEAT. Maybe you knew this was a thing, maybe you didn't. I sure didn't before our move to Japan! The bassinet seat is located right behind the bulkhead (the part that separates first class from business and/or behind the restrooms in larger aircraft). After take off, the stewardess will install the bassinet for you and will take it off during the final descent. A few things to note: you will have to take baby out of the bassinet whenever the seatbelt light comes on. The arm rests do not come up on these rows. You will not have under-the-seat storage (because there is no seat in front of you). I have never been able to get Eleanor to actually sleep in the bassinet, but it is a great place to change diapers (but be considerate--if it's a stink bomb, go to the bathroom! Side note: stewardess will not take diapers as trash, you will need to throw them away in the bathroom), to store things in, and the extra legroom is obviously GREAT.

SO, here's what you do: After you book your plane tickets, call the airline and ask to reserve the bassinet seat. They won't be able to guarantee it (at least from my experience), but they will put the request on your profile. A week before the flight, call again and make sure it's on your profile. Ask what type of aircraft you will be flying on, then look up said aircraft to see what rows are the bulkhead/bassinet compatible. When you check-in the day of your flight, you might find that you're in the bulkhead seat (yay!), but you might not. Don't give up hope! Go straight to your gate and talk to the stewardess about switching your seat. They usually save these rows for those traveling with infants or the disabled, but some people reserve them just for the extra leg room and the stewardess is often times able to get them to switch. Wow, say stewardess one more time, Chelsea 😅

6. Bring 5 more diapers than you think you'll need. This doesn't really need an explanation. You know how many diapers you change in X amount of time. Bring 5 more than that because you NEVER KNOW. Delays happen. Cancelations happen. $h!t happens.

7. Bring extra clothes. 3-4 outfits for baby and 1-2 for you. How many depends on how long your travel time will be. For baby, bring jammies for sleep time and comfy clothes for the rest. For you, no matter the travel time, definitely bring at least one extra shirt and I highly recommend another pair of pants. Leggings don't take up much room!

8. Schedule long flights for nighttime (red eye) if you can. This increases your chances of baby sleeping and making life easier for you. The cabin will be dimmed for a majority of the flight, people will be more quiet and you'll have less interruptions. If you have a shorter flight, schedule it for nap time for the same reasons. It might not be as dark or quiet, but baby will at least be tired!

9. Bring toys that your baby either has never seen or hasn't seen in awhile. I like to hide a toy that I know she loves a week before leaving, and then I buy a new one while we are traveling for her to play with on the way back. If you child is older, you can download a new movie or show they've been wanting to watch. Check out these sweet headphones I saw some kids using on our most recent trip! Definitely going to snag some for when E is older.

10. Snacks. So many snacks. For you and for baby! I don't know about you, but I don't like risking it on the airplane meals. There are some things (like rice, noodles, fruit or pre-packaged foods) that I will gamble on but other than that I stick with my protein bars, nuts, dried fruits and jerky. If you're exclusively breastfeeding, you're going to be hungry and you will need to stay nourished! And bring foods/snacks that you know your baby will eat if they are eating solids.

11. Bring refillable water bottles for you and baby. Ain't no one got time for $5 bottles of water! I haven't been to an airport that didn't have water fountains to fill up water bottles. And, if you ask nicely, the stewardess will fill your water bottle up for you on the plane! Again, if you're exclusively breastfeeding, it's important that you are staying hydrated! Your baby will likely nurse more than ever on the flight, and flying/traveling in general tends to dehydrate us so drink up!

12. Nurse on take off and landing. Or don't. I've done both and Eleanor has never seemed to have an issue with her ears popping. If you aren't nursing your baby, a bottle or sippy cup has the same affect, or even a snack! Anything to get their mouth moving.

13. Other things to have in your carry-on besides the obvious: medicines (don't try any new ones though!!), oils (Stress Away for me and Copiaba for E, can I get an Amen), familiar lovie/blanket, Wet Ones hand wipes, disinfecting wipes (for plane, toys that fall on ground, everything), plastic bags for poopy diapers/clothes,

14. Look for play areas at your airport before arriving. Especially if you have a long layover somewhere. This is obviously for older kids, but most airports have little play areas for the kiddos to burn some energy before/between flights and you will be able to find out which gates they're at beforehand by searching the airport website!

For Stays Away From Home:

1. Lower your expectations. Again, lower 'em at least 5 points lol Your baby will probably not sleep as well as at home, but don't let that scare you! There are things you can do to make them more comfortable 👇

2. Airbnb if you can. From my experience, Airbnb's are usually more affordable, have more space and accommodations than a hotel room. You can have separate spaces so that you and your travel buddy can enjoy each others company while baby is sleeping in another room. While I cherish those memories of Chris and I sharing a bottle of champagne on the World's tiniest porch in Guam, it was SO NICE to have our own room AND a living room at our Airbnb in Brisbane. It's not always possible to find and Airbnb, but just remember it is an option! Use this link to save $40 on your next Airbnb booking!

3. Travel crib. This is the one we have. Many hotels and Airbnb's have cribs that they can put in your room for you, but some don't and this is a great option! It is super light and easy to bring along. Side note: you can filter your Airbnb search to show only places that have cribs!

4. Bring crib sheets, blankets and/or sound machine from home. Try to keep bedtime as normal as you can, by bringing and reading a familiar book, using the same soaps and lotions at bath time and having familiar smells and sounds.

5. If you have a hotel room, put the crib in the darkest place and far away from your bed. Sometimes there is good sized closet that you can stick it in, leaving the door open of course. If you have a light sleeper, having them further away from your bed can help prevent waking them up when you have to pee in the middle of the night!

For International Travel (time zone change):

1. Yep, lower your expectations. I read somewhere that the body adjusts at the rate of 1-2 hours of time difference per day. So if you're traveling to a time zone that is 12 hours different than yours, it will take 6-12 days to adjust. Thats for an adult. For babies, they say it's one day per hour of time difference. However, I have found that Eleanor is usually adjusted to Japan or US time (12-13 hour difference depending on time of year) in 10 days. Basically, they will be tired. They will wake up ready to go at odd hours of the night, and be ready to sleep in the middle of the day. That's okay! If they are up in the middle of the night, try to keep the lights dim and read books or play with other non-stimulating toys. Keep the TV off, give them a snack and just play with them until they start showing signs of tiredness. Try to keep them busy during the day and keep naps short/normal. I know they say to never wake a sleeping baby, but if there is exploring to be done, this is my blog and I say it's okay :)

2. Schedule your flight to arrive in the morning. This will help you all to stay distracted and therefore awake in order to adjust to the new time zone. If you are arriving in the evening, don't fret! Check into your room, get that baby into the bath and right into bed time. If your baby is like Eleanor and doesn't sleep on the flight(s), he/she will probably go right to sleep!

3. Bring a travel stroller that reclines (or that you know your baby will sleep in). The Mountain Buggy Nano Stroller I hyperlinked above (and here) does recline! Personally, I don't let Eleanor's sleep schedule dictate my schedule when we travel. I know that if she's tired enough, she'll sleep in her stroller! There was one day in Australia that she didn't take a single nap. I was waiting for the meltdown and it never happened! I was amazed lol she was just having too much fun I suppose! I realize not all babies are like this and may need their own space/bed. Do what's best for you and your baby!

That's all I got, folks! If you are a fellow parent with a tip or trick you think I missed, comment here or shoot me a message on Instagram and I'll add on to this post!

Happy Traveling!


How to Track Macros While on Vacation

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Yep, that's right, I said it. Don't track your macros while you are on vacation. Unless you WANT to or have some serious goals you are trying to reach, one week/weekend away from tracking is not going to hurt your progress. In fact, I think it HELPS your progress! Tracking macros can be mentally exhausting. Taking a week/weekend to not track and just enjoy life is necessary in my opinion. Constantly worrying about how you're going to log food into My Fitness Pal is not healthy. It can lead to obsessive behaviors around food and restriction which can lead to eating disorders. 

Even though there are no "good" or "bad" foods when it comes to macro counting, there are certain foods that are challenging to fit into your daily diet. Impossible? Absolutely not. But challenging, yes. A macro counter might plan to have a FroYo treat so they are mindful to eat lower carbs throughout the day in order to compensate. Which is great! But when you're exploring a new place with your favorite person or people, you don't want to worry about if a certain food is going to "fit your macros". And you probably don't have an idea of where you are going to be eating everyday. One of my favorite things to do while exploring a new place is to dive into their food by just walking around and following the smells (or Google reviews). 

The last thing you want to do is regret not eating that flaky croissant, or trying every single gyoza in Japan (just me?). Life is way too short to not eat all the foods. EAT ALL THE FOODS!

So you followed my advice, went on vacation, ate all the foods. 

Now what?

Go back to life as normal! Don't restrict. Don't reduce calories. Just jump right back in where you left off! If you've been tracking macros for awhile you will probably notice that you are craving plain, wholesome foods. Chicken, rice, fresh veggies maybe? That's what I crave after a weekend away! Keep it simple, and again, don't restrict.

All of that being said, there are some things that you can do while on vacation to keep your health game strong.

Don't skip meals. Bring some instant oatmeal or cream of wheat that you can easily heat up in your hotel room while getting ready for the day! I like to bring some whey in a baggy to mix in for extra protein and to keep me fuller longer. I hate when I'm starving and trying to find somewhere to eat in a new place. I always end up settling on something that isn't necessarily good and regret it! Some other things that are eat to pack and keep you full are Belvita crackers, almonds, mixed nuts, trail mix, protein bars, nut butter, apples, clementines.

Eat your veggies. Get a side salad or steamed/sautéed veggies with your burger and fries. Micronutrients are still important, even on vacation! And you'll feel better, too.

Drink water. Traveling can be very dehydrating. I don't know about you guys, but whenever I'm flying, driving, training (is that right? lol), I tend to forget to drink water. Especially with a baby now! So I always make sure I have my Hydroflask filled with cold water and in a convenient place in my luggage so that I see it and remember to drink it. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger so staying hydrated will keep your hanger at bay :)

Walk. Walk whenever you can. If you're in a new city, awesome! You have so much room to walk and explore. If you're at the beach, even better! Who doesn't love a long walk on the beach at sunrise or sunset?? If you're visiting family, great! Take a long walk instead of sitting around the TV. I bet the conversations will be much better!
I absolutely love macros as a tool for overall health. I truly believe it is a great way to understand your body and its needs. It's a balanced approach that requires patience, but the results you get (both physically and mentally) will last a lifetime. It's time to put an end to yo-yo dieting and extreme exercising. Eat what you love and exercise because you want to. Go on vacation and feel good in your shoes. Enjoy the season of life that you are in. You got this!

Have questions about macros? Shoot me an email or reach out to me on Instagram! If you're ready to get started with macros, click here to see what I offer. I would love to hear from you! 

Eleanor Anne: A Natural Hospital Birth Story

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Sunday, June 24th
Chris and I got up and went to church, went out for breakfast afterwards and came home to relax. We sat outside for about an hour and then I went inside to take a little cat nap. It was a pretty normal day! I talked to Chris about our appointment scheduled for the following day and whether or not I should get my membranes stripped. After talking to him more we decided to just let my body do its thing and opt out. After all, I was already 4cm dilated, 90% effaced and baby Elle was at station 0. I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for weeks, a lot of lower abdominal cramping the week prior and I lost my mucus plug. We cooked a delicious dinner together and stayed up a little later than usual, watching Netflix and just enjoying each others company. 

Monday, June 25th
I woke up around 12:15am to some serious, full on contractions. They started in my lower back and made their way to the front. I decided to wake Chris up at 1:00am because the back pain was getting worse and I needed some counter-pressure. He started timing the contractions and they were lasting 3-4 minutes and were 10-15 minutes apart. We got out of bed around 1:45 and got on my hands and knees on the birth ball, where the contractions intensified and got closer together. At this point Chris contacted our doula (Amara, she’s amazing) and she recommended getting into the bath and trying to relax a little bit and to let her know when they were 5 minutes apart. I sat in the bath for about 20 minutes while Chris got everything ready to go to the hospital. The contractions were getting longer and stronger and were hard to track because they had two “peaks”. They would start off slow, intensify, slow back down and then intensify again before tapering off…it was not fun! When I got out of the bath I went straight back to my hands and knees on the birth ball with Chris applying counter-pressure to my back. By 3:40am the contractions were 2-3 minutes long and just under 5 minutes apart, so Chris had Amara head over. I continued to labor on my hands and knees on the birth ball and when Amara got here we pretty much decided it was time to go with how quickly the contractions were intensifying. We were out the door on the way to the Midwifery Center just before 5am.

I hardly remember the drive, just that the pressure from sitting was unbearable and that I could not wait to stand! We got to the ER (the Midwifery Center is attached to a hospital) about 15 minutes later and the check-in process was as ridiculous as it is in the movies…that’s about the only thing Hollywood got right LOL Even though I had done all of the pre-registration, I still had to fill out a little form, give my social and ID and wait for a nurse to escort me in a wheel chair. By this point I was in a lot of pain and pretty vocal with my contractions as I was humming through them. 

The ride in the wheelchair up the the midwifery center was also terrible, because like I said, sitting was unbearable for the pressure and back labor. When I got to my room the tub was being filled up and everything was ready for me to go, but I had to be on the fetal heart monitor for 20 minutes before I could get in or walk around. As they were checking baby’s heart rate they checked my cervix and I was 7cm dilated!! SEVEN CENTIMETERS! I was so happy. I was terrified that I was going to be only 4-5cm. At this point the sun was starting to come up so I think it was around 6-6:15am and I got into the birth tub. IT WAS AMAZING! I got on my hands and knees for a couple contractions and then Amara recommended lifting one leg up and lunging through some contractions. 

I was in the tub for about an hour and I started feeling the need to push so I got out. This is when the midwife asked me if my water had broken, and it hadn’t. She brought up breaking my waters just to speed up the process and I decided to go for it. This is where the story gets interesting…

The midwife broke my water and discovered A LOT of meconium (baby poop). This can be concerning and opted me out of continuing to labor and give birth in the midwifery center, and I had to be transferred to labor and delivery (just down the hall). I honestly wasn’t as upset as I thought I would be at the transfer…I think I was just hyper-focused on Eleanor and getting her out healthy. I knew that I could still successfully do this unmedicated, no matter where I was. Once in my L&D room, I had to be on continuous fetal monitoring which limited me to the bed, but we made it work! We raised the bed and I went through some contractions on my hands and knees, and some lunging, and I had to continue to fight the urge to push by doing lots of shallow, quick breathing and “horsey lips”. I did not realize how hard it was to fight the urge to push! But it also made me think about how smart my body was and to trust it, my midwife and my doula. 

It got harder and harder to not push, so the midwife checked my cervix again. I was 9.5cm dilated, BUT there was just a lip of cervix stuck on Eleanor’s head. So with the next contraction I pushed while the midwife moved the cervix. This was around 8am. I pushed on my hands and knees for awhile and then the midwife suggested that I empty my bladder…this was impossible for me. I sat on the toilet for a minute but when the contraction came i jumped up because I thought she was going to fall out in the toilet! LOL if only it were that easy. The nurses put wireless monitors on my belly and Amara got out the Rebozo and secured it to the bathroom door because she knew I wanted to do some pushing in the squatting position. I think I made it through 2 contractions here and realized it wasn’t for me! I couldn’t get the hang of pushing in this position. I went back to the bed and after pushing on my hands and knees for awhile, the fetal heart monitor showed that Elle’s heart rate was slowing down so the midwife suggested I get on my side. I labored here with the peanut ball between my legs for awhile (I completely lost track of time), and soon they called in the Labor & Delivery doctor to check out baby’s heart rate. He told me that if her heart rate didn’t improve, we might have to intervene with forceps, vacuum or worse case scenario, c-section. At this point I was in full on “get this baby out mode” and was determined to not have any interventions so it was GAME ON. Apparently while I continued to push the nurses brought in the vacuum but I didn’t even see it—Chris told me this later. But, after switching pushing positions a couple times Elle’s heart rate was back to normal! 

I continued to push and push and finally the midwife says, “look at that hair!” It was the motivation I needed to keep going—I was getting TIRED. I continued to push for another hour from that point. Yes, you read right. AN HOUR! Once she was further down in the birth canal, I actually got to see that head of hair and experience the “ring of fire”…they are NOT lying with that name! That was the only time in my labor (I think lol) that I said “it hurts”. But, I reminded myself that I was built for this, pain is temporary and Amara kept saying, “breathe and stretch“ which was SO helpful in reminding me that I did not want to tear. My midwife also kept getting warm wash clothes and pressing them on my vagina which felt so, so good. Once the midwife realized that Eleanor would be here soon, she told me that if she comes out crying, she can come straight to my chest, but if she doesn’t make a noise she’s going straight to the nurses. I slowly but surely pushed out her head, and this is when they realized she was “sunny side up”, meaning that her belly was facing my belly. This is why my cervix was stuck and why I had such bad back labor. I was so amazed when I looked down and saw her head, I couldn’t believe I still had to push out her shoulders! But with the next contraction I did just that and at 9:59am she was HERE and she was crying! She came straight to my bare chest and I looked at Chris and we both had tear-filled eyes. We did this! And she was so alert!! AND I did not tear! I pushed for a total of two hours. It honestly was such a blur it doesn’t feel like it was that long! I found that the most comfortable/efficient pushing position was laying on my side, holding my legs up. Since I had never pushed before, this was easiest for me to really bear down. 

The nurses started cleaning her off while she was on my chest—she was COVERED in meconium. Chris cut the umbilical cord, and then it was time to push out the placenta. The midwife pushed on my belly and gave a little tug and with one last push the placenta was out. It was GREEN from the amount of meconium in the womb! I have a picture, but i figured I would keep that to myself lol 

After I got some skin-to-skin (maybe 10-15 mins), they took Elle to get all of the meconium out of her belly and nose. They had to stick a tube down her throat to get it all out, but I am thankful that they did because it was A LOT. You know what else there was a lot of? Blood. Yes, I knew there would be blood but I didn’t realize how much would be coming out of me! Anyways, after the placenta was out and Elle was all cleaned out, we got our “golden hour” with her. We were able to establish breastfeeding with the help of Amara and I could’t believe how alert she was! She had an APGAR score of 9. I was so proud! The rest of golden hour consisted of Chris and I staring at our beautiful baby girl, him telling me how proud and amazed he was by me and talking with Amara about the crazy-amazingness that just happened.

Even though things did not go perfectly from the outside looking in, it was absolutely perfect from the inside looking out. We got our baby girl in the end. I had my husband there cheering me on the whole time. I did it unmedicated. Eleanor is healthy. I am healthy. GOD IS SO GOOD. 

Here are some photos that Amara snapped: 
Right when we arrived at the midwifery center and had to be monitored for 20 minutes.

By far the most comfortable I was all labor! The tub was AMAZING. And look at Chris...he is the sweetest. I could not have done this without him. 
After being transferred to L&D...stuck to the bed but making it work! 

My unicorn baby! She had a perfect 7cm circle on her head.  
So, so happy <3


Why I am Choosing a Natural Childbirth: The Facts

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Let me start out by saying that there is no right or wrong way to have a baby. Your choice is your choice and mine is mine. In the end, we all are trying to do what’s best for our little ones! We can do the same research and come out with different opinions. And that's OKAY! I just wanted to share a little more insight on why I am choosing a natural, unmedicated birth. 

In my previous post about choosing a natural childbirth, I talked about my inspiration (read here). Today I’m going to go into the facts and my (condensed) research, with a splash of opinion, about natural childbirth. My goal for this blog post is to educate others and share facts that may not be commonly known. My goal is NOT to tell you why medicated births are bad/wrong (because they're not!) or to offend or guilt anyone. How you want your labor and delivery to go is 100% up to YOU, and I do not judge any momma out there for their choices! There are reasons that interventions exist, as they have saved many women and babies. I am not here to pass judgement on others, or to scare people into having an unmedicated birth, or vice versa. Do your research and make educated decisions that best suits YOU! 

Alright, time to dive in...

First and foremost, I have to point out that God handcrafted women to cary and bear babies. We ARE capable! We ARE strong! We don't [all] NEED interventions! I am confident in my ability to go forth with an unmedicated birth because He gives me strength. He created this body, crafted so perfectly to grow and birth a baby human. How amazing is that?! When we stop thinking about childbirth being a punishment (some believe that women experience pain in childbirth because Eve ate the forbidden fruit) and start thinking about it as a gift that we are blessed to be able to experience, our mindsets change. Change your mindset, change your life :)

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10 

Babies born without an epidural or other pain medications are more alert.
Babies born without and epidural have a higher Apgar score. This is a quick way in which physicians measure the health of a newborn by their appearance, pulse, grimace (reflex/response), activity, and respiration. Midwives and physicians all around the globe have observed that babies born without interventions are more alert. 
Why is a having an alert baby important?
One (very important) reason is breastfeeding! Your baby already has those instincts, and adding medications to the mix can interfere with them. A drowsy baby is less likely to be interested in breastfeeding due to lack of energy and also interference with natural hormones (mom's and baby's). Oxytocin (aka the love hormone) is released naturally during and after birth and while breastfeeding, aiding in the bond between mom and baby. It also is responsible for contractions during labor, helps slow down bleeding after birth, and contracts mom's uterus post-birth. I'm getting off topic, I could talk about the benefits of breastfeeding for hours :) 
In the end, there is not enough evidence (for me, at least) to prove that an epidural or other pain medications do not affect the baby or have long term affects on the mom. Actually, the FDA has addressed that they do indeed cross the placenta and therefore to the baby.

[Opinion: We are told all throughout pregnancy to never take these medications, don’t eat these foods, don’t lift more than this amount of weight, etc., because it they are bad for the baby. So why is it all of a sudden okay to be pumped with pain meds when going through labor and delivery? I mean, we can't even have Ibuprofen for crying out loud! Just a thought.]

You are free to walk around and move to whatever position is comfortable.
The freedom to walk around and change positions is crucial for me. I don't sit still long. Ever. And I know I will be the same while laboring! I like being in control of my body and being able to feel movements (hence the love for working out and weight training!).
Epidurals limit you to the bed. When an epidural is chosen by the patient (or physician), so is an IV, continuous fetal monitoring, blood pressure monitoring and in some cases even a catheter. So not only are momma's legs numb from the epidural, but she also has an IV and fetal monitor attached to her, keeping her in one position. This forces momma to push on her back which, in my opinion, is the least effective way to push a baby out. This position narrows the size of a woman's pelvis, making it more difficult for baby to get through the birth canal, causing stress to the baby and could potentially put mom at a higher risk of tearing. Add this increase in baby's heart rate to momma's fever (side effect of epidural) and you have yourself an emergency c-section in the making :(

Unmedicated births have a decreased risk of an unnecessary cesarean.
This topic is a little controversial. As with everything else on this post, do your own research and make the best decision for YOU! Generally speaking, labor interventions do cause more labor interventions. 
I think the easiest way to explain this is by describing a typical hospital birth:
(my opinion, based on research and fellow momma's birth stories)
  1. Mom gets medically induced (stripping of membranes, administering oxytocin/pitosin)
  2. Mom can't handle the pain from the contractions that the Pitosin is causing (Pitosin contractions can be more intense and last longer with little-to-no breaks than naturally-occurring contractions) and opts for an Epidural.
  3. The Epidural helps mom's pain but the contractions are just as intense, causing baby to become distressed (increased heart rate), and/or Mom gets a fever as a side-effect from the medications.  
  4. Baby's distress is recorded on the fetal monitor, Mom's fever is recored and doctor stresses that it's time for this baby to come out. Mom is either given and episiotomy, the doctor has to use forceps or vacuum extraction or Mom is wheeled out for an emergency cesarean.
So, you can see in this scenario that Mom could have reduced her chance of a cesarean by letting her body labor naturally. Again, this is a GENERIC scenario that I have seen and heard many times. I am by no means putting blame or guilt on any Mom out there who chose/chooses interventions! The end result is a healthy baby and that's what matters. My point here is to show how one intervention leads to the next. 

The rate of cesarean in the US is 31.9%. To put that into perspective, the World Health Organization recommends a cesarean rate of 10-15%. While we are down 1% since last year, we still have a ways to go in improving this statistic. Babies born vaginally have a lower risk of respiratory issues and are exposed to protective bacteria that boost their immune systems. Not to mention, cesarians are a major (expensive) surgery! They cause mom to be bed-ridden for weeks after having baby. This is can affect mom and baby's relationship, breastfeeding and can even cause postpartum depression. All things that I would like to avoid if I can! **I am NOT saying that every momma will have these affects post-cesarean. Every momma is different. Every baby is different. Every birth is different**

Unmedicated births are less expensive. 
Now, I must say that your insurance, country and state all play huge roles in this. I'm sure there are cases out there where a medicated birth was less expensive than an unmedicated one. You could have a medicated birth and it cost next to nothing with your insurance, or pay $1000+ to have an unmedicated birth at a hospital having no insurance. This is something you would have to look into as an individual. But on average, medicated births do cost more money. You (or your insurance) will have to pay for an induction (e.g. pitosin), pain medication (e.g. Demerol), epidural, c-section (this is a major surgery, people!), extended hospital stay due to complications from those listed, so on and so forth. Either way, the hospital is making more money off of a medicated birth.

Most important thing: Make an informed choice for YOU from a place of knowledge and NOT out of fear. Don’t choose to have a natural birth just because you read this blog post. Don’t choose a voluntary C-Section or induction because that’s what some other blogger said. If you want an unmedicated birth, do your research. If you want a hospital birth, do your research. If you want a home birth, do your research. If you want an epidural, do your research. If you want a c-section, do your research. I can’t say it enough: Do your research! And don’t believe every little thing you read or hear. Find the FACTS! 

No matter how you choose (or chose) to give birth, you are no less or more of a woman than the one who chooses (or chose) to do the opposite. No matter what you choose, realize that things can change in a matter of seconds [while my intention is to have an intervention-free labor and delivery, I will always do what is best for baby]. No matter how you labor and give birth, you are a super woman and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. 

I want to leave you with this quote by Dr. Robert Bradley, developer of The Bradley Method, from his book "Husband Coached Childbirth": 

"Birthing, like swimming, although a normal function, requires knowledge and training to perform. Both can be an exhilarating experience when properly performed and a very dangerous experience when fear or ignorance interfere."

As always, thank you so much for reading. This was one of the toughest blog posts I've ever written, just because the topic is so controversial. I hope that I was able to strike a fire within you to want to learn more <3