5 Tips For Having a Natural Childbirth
When I tell people that I've had two natural births, I usually see one of two reactions:
1) Jaw-dropped, incredulous looks and comments along the lines of, Are you crazy? Why would you do that? and I could never have a natural birth!
2) Nods from women who have been there and understand that natural birth is not a badge of honor, but simply something that can be done for some women—some even easier than others.
Honestly, there is no one “secret” to having a natural childbirth. I'm also not so convinced that all natural births all the time should be our goal as childbearing women anyways. However, if you are curious about what it takes to actually have a successful natural birth, I do have a few tips for you.
Take a childbirth class:
You may be temped to skip out on these (what is the Internet for, anyways, right?), but I think a childbirth class can be extremely helpful for a lot of reasons.
1. It helps you to get talking with your partner about what you want out of the birth experience, and it can help your partner become more involved in the process, which, as you will come to find, can be the difference in making it through naturally.
2. It gives you a chance to talk one-on-one with a nurse who will most likely be running the class and can give you lots of insight into delivery.
3. The class usually includes a tour of the L&D ward, which will help you get a visual and become more comfortable in the environment where you'll be bringing your baby into the world!
Get to know your care provider:
Having a trusting, open relationship with your delivery care provider makes a huge difference. Knowing that they support you and respect your decisions goes a long way in helping you to have the delivery experience you want. If you're not really sure how your provider feels about “natural” birth, call up the labor and delivery floor and ask a nurse for her honest opinion. They are the ones on the front lines, and they can give you the scoop on what really happens during delivery.
Remember that you are in control:
Even for women who come in well prepared to have their babies—birth plans ready and extra pillows in tow—it can be easy to get overwhelmed in the busyness and “officialness” of a medical hospital. With healthcare staff, however caring and awesome they may be (ahem), it can also be easy for them to rely on experience and medical knowledge to try to guide a woman through labor. And although in some cases that can be helpful, it can also be disempowering. The key to natural childbirth is to always, always remember that you, and no one else, are the one in control of your labor and birth.
It doesn't have to be an intense, super-crunchy form of yoga, but honestly, practicing even the limited amount of yoga that I did during my second pregnancy (and we're talking pop-a-DVD-in-now-and-then kind of yoga) made all the difference during my labor. Not only did I learn to practice controlled breathing, but I picked up the ability to choose a focal point and focus on just that, blocking everything out—which is exactly how you get through contractions naturally. That's it. There is no better secret to it.
Give yourself permission to change your mind:
I know, I know. This is supposed to be all about natural childbirth, but let me tell you this: If you go into labor with a closed mind, expecting things to go exactly the way you planned, I can almost guarantee that you will struggle during labor. Not only will that rigidity make you fearful, which will cause tension in the body and lead to more pain, but it can block your ability to listen to what your body is telling you during labor. Above all, to have the birth that you need to have in order to get your baby out, keep an open mind, go with the flow, and give yourself permission to listen to your body—no matter what it ends up telling you.
Did you opt to go med- and intervention-free? What tips can you share for those wishing for a natural birth?