This post offers 9 must-do tips to prepare for giving birth naturally, whether in a hospital setting, at home, or in a birthing center.
Guest post by Shannon of Growing Slower
I have spent the last two years reading every natural birth story I could find and talking with women about their natural birth experiences. I wanted to know every detail from what they ate to what birth class they took, who they wanted at their birth, and what contractions felt like.
What started out as preparation for my own first natural birth evolved into a personal passion and from there into an entire book. I am so excited to share with The Humbled Homemaker readers a little of what I have learned.
If you’re planning on giving birth naturally, I’m sure you already know there is a whole lot more to it than just the day your baby is born!
Here are 9 must-do tips for preparing to give birth naturally:
Natural Birth Tip #1: Find a Supportive Midwife or OB
Interview any potential care providers before you agree to hire them. Find a midwife or OB that will fully support you in your decision to have a natural birth. The two most important factors are finding someone who genuinely shares your birth philosophy and who has a proven track record of attending natural births to back it up.
As women and moms we often put ourselves in the role of trying to keep those around us happy and comfortable. However, finding a supportive midwife or OB is one situation when you have to stand up for yourself, even if that means changing care providers at 38 or 39 weeks as two of the mamas in the book did!
Natural Birth Tip #2: Read Natural Birth Books & Birth Stories
Read as many natural birth books as you can. You never know where you might pick up a tip or technique that really resonates with you. Especially read as many positive natural birth stories as you can find. There’s something about a birth story that hits us in that deep down emotional place. It could change the whole way you think about your birth!
Natural Birth Tip #3: Choose Your Support Team Carefully
In just the last few years, the number of women who choose to hire a doula to support them during labor has doubled! Whether you choose to have a doula or not, having any form of continuous physical and emotional support (other than your medical team) has been shown to make labor shorter and a more positive experience. This might include your husband, mother, sister, friends or anyone else who is 100 percent on board with your birth plan and is willing to support you.
image by frankdekleine
Natural Birth Tip #4: Choose a Positive Birth Location
Choose the location for your birth that is right for you. You can give birth naturally in the hospital, and that will be the right choice for some women. Having extra medical care available just in case will give some moms the peace of mind that they need to be comfortable.
You also have other options. An increasing number of women are choosing to have out-of-hospital births in birth centers or in their own homes. That home-like atmosphere gives these moms the ability to fully relax into labor as they might not be able to do in a hospital.
Natural Birth Tip #5: Make a Birth Plan
Making a birth plan is a great opportunity to explore all of your options for your birth as well as postpartum and newborn care. You do have options!
Some of the women I interviewed chose not to write down a formal birth plan because they were very confident that they were on the same page with their care provider and the policies of their birth location. However, each one of them still had a very clear plan that they had communicated to their support team.
If you’re looking to push the “easy button” on the birth plan, check out this sample birth plan!
Natural Birth Tip #6: Stay Healthy
Natural birth is usually only a safe option for low-risk moms, so do everything you can to stay healthy! Focusing on keeping a healthy nutrition and exercise plan can go a long way to accomplishing that goal.
That isn’t to say that you have to be perfect. With the challenges of nausea and exhaustion that some women experience during pregnancy, along with the busy lives that we all lead, it’s usually enough to just do the best you can.
image by koadmunkee
Natural Birth Tip #7: Educate Yourself About Natural Birth
How much do you really know about childbirth? (Test your knowledge with this childbirth quiz and you may be surprised!) Before you can experience your own natural birth, both you and your birth partner need to learn what to expect. One of the best ways to do this is to attend a childbirth class that focuses specifically on natural birth.
Of the women I talked to, the most popular were The Bradley Method and Hypnobirthing, but there are also many other options available too. If you’re not able to attend a class outside the home (or don’t want to!), take the Mama Natural Birth Course, which is completely online. It’s also much cheaper than many in-person classes, and you can re-watch the videos as often as you like!
Natural Birth Tip #8: Learn Natural Pain Coping Techniques
Just because you choose not to get an epidural doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. Believe it or not there are lots of pain coping techniques you can use to cope with contractions.
Of all the natural birthing mamas I interviewed, their favorite and most effective natural pain coping technique was laboring in warm water.
Natural Birth Tip #9: Expect the Unexpected
Whether it was dealing with gestational diabetes, an extra long labor, a hospital transfer, or even an unplanned unassisted birth, almost none of the birth stories that I’ve gathered went exactly as planned. However, each one was still an overwhelmingly positive and empowering experience for the mom involved. As long as you take the time to prepare, you’ll be able to feel confident and successful, no matter what twists and turns your birth may take.
Have you had a “natural birth” with any of your pregnancies? Which of these tips did you follow?
Shannon writes about pregnancy, parenting, and simple living at GrowingSlower. She and her wonderful husband are parents to two beautiful babies. She’s an author and creator of a great ecourse to help you save money on groceries!