1. What does natural birth mean to you?
What does it mean to you to have a natural birth? Giving birth vaginally? Unmedicated? Without intervention from your care provider? Think about your goal within your natural birth. What is your goal and why is it important to you? Now that you know what type of birth you want, write your preferences down to discuss with your birth partner and care providers. Take a look at Wellness Mama’s visual birth plan.
2. Prenatal Education
Knowledge is power, that said, there’s a ton of information out there. That’s why it’s important to be very selective of what type of information you take in. During pregnancy, our subconscious mind is more ‘open’ and vulnerable to information especially visual. Everything we read, see and hear will have its place in our subconscious mind and this can have a really big effect on how your birth goes. Thus choose your prenatal education carefully and make sure it includes physiology and hormones of birth, your beliefs, and fears about birth, choices around birth location and birth team, self-hypnosis techniques, relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, breastfeeding and immediate postpartum. Most likely you’ll find a weekend course with your hospital but this might not give you all the tools and information you need or want to know, especially if they have a high intervention rate.
3. Choose a trusted care provider
Ideally for low-risk pregnancy and natural birth you want to choose a midwife or a pro-natural obstetrician who is well known for just that. Ask for opinions and reviews on forums, mum groups, and meet with all potential care providers to get a feel of whether you could work with them. Choosing a care provider can be a daunting task but remember if you stick with a care provider just because you feel bad to move your medical records somewhere else, that’s not a good enough reason. Trusting your care provider 100% is more important than you know. If for any reason during labor you feel unsafe or you don’t trust your care providers’ choices, you will have a surge of adrenaline which will slow your birth down or even bring it to a complete still stand. Which is exactly what you want to avoid during labor.
4. Birth with a Doula
A doula is a companion who offers continuous support to you and your partner. Support from a doula includes physical support such as massage, pressure, and soothing touch. Your doula help creates a calm environment, keeps you nourished with your preferred snacks, and guides you to find your own power.
Doulas also offer emotional support by encouraging and praising you during labor. Reminding you of the positive while keeping you company and caring for you.
During your pregnancy and birth, they also support you with information. For example, they can guide you and your partner through labor and suggest techniques like breathing, relaxation, movement, and changing positions. Doulas help you find evidence-based information about your options, and they can help explain medical procedures.
Doulas can also enhance communication between parents and providers. They will also use advocacy techniques such as encouraging you to ask questions and speak up for what you want.
Studies have shown that people who receive continuous support are more likely to have a normal vaginal birth and less likely to have pain medication, negative feelings about childbirth, and cesareans. Furthermore, their labors are shorter and their babies are less likely to have complications at birth or be admitted to a NICU. In these studies, the best results occurred when the continuous support was provided by a trained doula—someone who was not a staff member at the hospital and not part of the birthing person’s social network. *Research has shown that labor support from doulas is both risk-free and highly effective.
5. Spend as much of your labor at home
Home is where you feel safe, comfortable and undisturbed. Avoid going into the hospital during early labor this will only be a cause for unnecessary interventions. Wait for your contractions to be consistent they should be about five minutes apart for the last hour and a half and it will feel like they’re getting more intense. Then you know you’re in active labor and ready to go to the hospital/birthing center or if you’re giving birth at home, this is a good time to ask your midwife to come over.
6. Get creative with your birth environment
Your external environment plays just as an important role as your internal environment. We unconsciously navigate the external environment with our previous experiences. If you’re giving birth in the hospital, make sure you bring as much as you can from home to make you as comfortable as possible. Don’t be shy to redo the hospital room to make it feel homey and safe. Consider bringing things such as your pillow, favorite blanket, cuddly toy, favorite essential oil, affirmation cards, your music, and photos that make you feel happy. Make use of water during labor. Get in the shower, use a birth tub/pool if you can. Being in the water makes you feel buoyant. It’s well known to ease labor discomforts.
Often during adulthood, we realize we’ve lost the art of breathing. When you watch a baby breathing, instinctively they breathe with their abdomen. The breath is the ultimate tool for achieving a better birth. Knowing how to use it will make the biggest difference in how you experience the birth of your baby. Breathing consciously brings you into the present moment, enabling you to be more in touch with your body and baby’s needs. Starting by relearning abdominal breathing. Breathe from deep within your abdomen, as if you’re blowing up a balloon with your belly. This type of breathing helps to bring more oxygen to your abdominal area which, of course, includes your baby and, very importantly the uterus. During labour you want to keep your muscles as relaxed as possible as this helps baby through the birth canal with utmost comfort and ease. Take 2-5 minutes now to practice deep abdominal breathing. My breath is what kept me calm and relaxed during my son’s birth. I practiced Mindful Hypnobirthing techniques religiously and my hard work definitely paid off during my four-hour labor.
Most importantly, be flexible to change. Birth is very unpredictable and mentally preparing for accepting changes that should arise during labor will prevent disappointments. Visualize your dream birth every day, draw a picture of it but don’t think too much about the finer details of it, like the when and how. Surrender to this beautiful experience and remember, you’re body make a perfect little baby without giving it any thought whatsoever, your body knows how to birth your baby as well. You’ve got this super mamma!