5 Tips For Having a Natural Childbirth

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Image via Flickr/ lizdavenportcreative

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. 

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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. 

childbirth class
Image via Flickr/ nateone

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! 

careprovider
Image via Flickr/ mattgosselin

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. 

incontrol
Image via Flickr/ Daquella manera

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. 

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yoga
Image via Flickr/ Wonderlane

Try yoga:

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. 

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Image via Flickr/ futurestreet

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. 

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Did you opt to go med- and intervention-free? What tips can you share for those wishing for a natural birth?

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5 Tips For Having a Natural Childbirth

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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6 comments

  1. Profile photo of Heidi Heidi says:

    I’d planned on having a no-meds, all-natural birth experience, but after 14 hours in labor, I was still only dilated 4-5 cm, my contractions were coupling and off-the-charts in intensity, and my water never broke on its own. So, after talking about it with my husband and mother (both of whom stayed with me throughout labor), I decided to have an epidural. I’m so glad I did. A couple of hours after they gave me the epidural, I’d dilated to 8 cm, and our son was born seven hours later. I’d worked a full day before labor started (four days before my due date), so I’d gone 26 hours without sleep by the time they performed the epidural. I was beyond exhausted. The epidural helped me relax and get some much-needed rest, which was the key to progressing in labor for me. If we have another child, I’ll try going without pain meds again, but an epidural is definitely not out of the question.

  2. Profile photo of DLP DLP says:

    I had my daughter with out any pain meds. From the time I started to think my “false labor” was real to the time I had her was 4 1/2 hours. I’d say what helped me the most was staying fit, and talking to every woman I knew about how their birth experiences went, and reading everything I could. During labor I would ask questions about how far dilated I was, and what station the baby was at. Knowing I was making progress kept me focused. Also staying calm, the pain can really be scary, have your partner remind you to stay calm. Natural childbirth is awesome if you are able and if its something you want.

  3. Profile photo of Colleen Colleen says:

    My first birth was a textbook natural birth. My water broke at 3am, we went to the hospital at 5am, I labored for a couple hours, my son was born just before 8am. I did the birthing classes so I could be better informed about natural pain relief (women in my family have had relatively easy and quick labors so no one had any real tips beyond just breath). The bath water helped me dilate but didn’t do anything for the pain. Then, I sat on a birthing bath for about 20 minutes and was ready to push. I don’t know how long I pushed but my doctor got there just a couple pushes before my son was born. I wound up with a third degree tear because he came out so quickly but it was worth it because he came out nice and pink with a round head. My second birth was a little different. My water ruptured one week before my due date because I was nesting and over exerted myself. I went to the doctors office and my doctor had just left on vacation so someone else had to confirm the I was leaking amniotic fluid. I got to the hospital around 4pm and they monitored me through the night. Around 6 the next morning I was induced and it took 2hours for contractions to even start, then I endured 2 hours of unending contractions before the took be off the pitocin. After that, my younger son came pretty quickly. Another third degree tear but I also had another pink baby with a round head. Both times I knew what I wanted but I was always open to something else because I trusted my nurses and my doctors to do what was best for me and my babies.

  4. I went natural-ish the first go around. Due date came and went and the doctor was getting a little nervous about his size. Now, I have to say, that from week 36 she was like “Just say the word, we can induce whenever you want now.”, so she was pretty induction happy to begin with… We chose to induce one day after due date, as I wanted to avoid a C-section.

    The induction was the worst thing ever. Body wasn’t ready for labor and here we are trying make it ready by force.

    I did have something in my IV for pain, but did not want the epidural (every hour on the hour someone came and asked ‘Are you sure?’ Yes, yes I am sure. I hate the idea of being numb more than feeling pain.)

    It took FOREVER for me to dilate and actually go into labor, but once I was dilated, I had my son in 15 minutes of pushing. Because my body was not prepared, I had an episiotomy, as he came so fast. Between the induction and the stitches it kind of sucked, I know I could have had a much more pleasant birth had I listened to my gut, rather than my Dr. I was proud of myself, for sticking with my guns on the epidural atleast.

    This time around, I am not going NEAR the hospital until contractions get to be noticeably closer together. The shorter time I spend hooked up to monitors and wires, the better. I have no fear about the babies’ size.. I am very big boned and have a wide pelvis, never should have let that scare me the first go around. This time I am following my gut.

  5. Profile photo of jesster131 jesster131 says:

    The plan for mine was natural. However My water broke at home 3 weeks early with no contractions having started. 18 hours later it was determined that my little (not really so little) man was hopelessly stuck. I was rapidly tiring. I am an epileptic & they were getting very worried that I was going to seize. My BP was bouncing all over the place so a decision was made to do a c-section. It was not quite an emergency, but they did not waste any time at all in getting me into an OR & getting my son out.

  6. Profile photo of Aubrey Aubrey says:

    I was blessed with 3 easy births. The first one I had a shot of something in my IV for pain, which was gone by the time I was ready to push. The other 2 I waited till I knew that I was ready to go and delivered within the hour I got to the hospital. With the first 1 the dr on call had to deliver my son as my dr wasn’t there, 2 the nurse delivered, and 3 the dr walked in, broke my water and caught my son! Make sure you know and trust your dr. I couldn’t stand my first one, and was actually glad that she wasn’t there when I delivered. Also, make sure that you are both polite, but firm in your wishes. I spent 24 hours in mind numbing belly cramps because when I asked for something for gas, this old nurse said have some mint tea….

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