Photo by Andria Lindquist
Childbirth is something that women have been doing since the beginning of humanity, yet when we go into it as first time mothers, it can be scary and so full of unknowns. Many expectant mothers these days have questions about how to prepare for a natural birth. Preparing your body and mind for the experience will take you far in achieving the birth you desire.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is one of the first books you should dig into when you want to start learning more about the childbirth experience, what to expect, and how to approach it naturally. There are an overwhelming number of books available on pregnancy and birth, so be selective and try to educate yourself with quality, well reviewed materials. Search the internet for positive (only positive!) birth stories to inspire you!
Take a Class
Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, and The Bradley Method are three popular approaches to natural childbirth. They’re all different but all can help you toward your goal. Research deeper into each class to figure out which one seems to fit you best. Hypnobirthing and Hypnobabies focus on meditation (self hypnosis) and positive visualization to calm and relax your body to naturally manage pain and birth your baby with confidence. The Bradley Method focuses on teaching you the mechanics of birth so you’re involved and informed – and also gets your birth partner involved in the experience. Once you’ve chosen a “school of thought” you can look up videos of positive natural childbirth experiences using the technique of your choice. It’s really empowering to witness, and this also gets you visually and mentally used to what labor actually looks like.
There are many different things women do to help them through labor that don’t include an epidural! Laboring in water can be a more relaxing experience and help soothe the tension. Sitting on a birth ball to apply counter pressure can feel really relieving during contractions. There are also many different positions for labor to help the baby move down more easily depending on his position and your body. Learning these will be great tools to have in your tool belt. This way, when your doula says squat, you’ll know what to do!
When your body is active and healthy, it can help you to have a more successful labor with a faster recovery time. Continue to exercise (safely for your stage of pregnancy) daily, as well as stretching and staying hydrated. Be diligent with eating a balanced diet with healthy proteins, leafy greens, healthy fats, and your prenatal vitamins. Toward the end of your pregnancy, drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea can help strengthen the uterus to give you more efficient contractions.
Find A Good Support System
Being surrounded by medical professionals, family and friends that will support and encourage you to have the birth you want is your goal! Interview midwives or doctors until you find one that proves they encourage natural birth unless emergency presents itself, and discuss your birth (and baby care after birth) preferences to see if you’re on the same page. Also consider hiring a doula to be your natural birth advocate during labor, and to help you along the way and after birth.
Prep Your Mind
Once you’ve educated yourself, practiced, prepared, and planned – you need to mentally prepare yourself for the reality of a birth experience which is to expect the unexpected and go with the flow. Know that you’ve prepared, so now you can drop your expectations and take the experience as it comes. No matter how healthy we are or how many copies we print of our birth plans, we will still be surprised by how it all really happens! Envision your baby in your arms and know that no matter what, you’ve succeeded.
As far as labor and recovery go, I’ve heard a woman who does a natural birth tends to heal quicker because you’re feeling everything. Whereas, when you have an epi, you’re mostly numb to it. What route did you take and how quick was recovery? I’m just trying to gather opinions. I want to go natural because I hear of women walking just fine the SAME day. And I’m such a wuss when it comes to recovery.
I am pregnant with my first baby and I have always wanted a epidural birth. I have now been looking into a natural birth and water birth. Can any ladies tell me what their experiences were with a water birth? Are there any ladies that can tell me what their experience was with a natural birth vs. water birth as in terms of pain, pros, and cons. Thanks so much!!