Whether you’re a first-time mother or you’ve been down the childbirth path a half-dozen times before, the prospect of natural childbirth can be simultaneously awe-inspiring and panic-inducing. You’re not alone! Millions of women have been in your shoes before, and you CAN have a natural childbirth. Your body is made for this.
If natural childbirth is important to you, take some time to prepare yourself and those around you. The more tips, tricks, and strategies you have up your sleeve, the higher your chances of success!
Check out our 12 top tips to achieve your goal of a natural childbirth, broken down into 6 must-dos and 6 optional but great ideas!
Essential Steps when Preparing for Natural Childbirth
1. Learn all you can
Become a sponge! Read everything you can–blogs, books, articles. Check out documentaries and join natural birth Facebook groups. Ask around to find out who you may know that has had a natural childbirth. What worked for them? What didn’t work?
Educate yourself on the stages of labor and what to expect. Learning about labor and delivery will help you feel knowledgeable, prepared, and much more confident.
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2. Connect with your why
Natural childbirth can be easy or it can be downright hard. Reach down deep to know why it’s important to you. Write it down. This will help you when the going gets tough. Get those around you on board, and know what to say when Aunt Sally tells you it can’t be done. (By the way, she’s wrong. You CAN do it!)
3. Find your support team
Who will be with you when you’re in labor? For many families, this can be a dicey issue. Perhaps your mother-in-law (or your own mom!) is insisting on their right to be there. Although it can be hard, focus on what YOU want. What does your ideal childbirth team look like? It can be different for different stages, too. For example, maybe you want to involve your sister, but only when you’re in early labor.
For many families, a doula is an excellent addition to your childbirth support team. A doula has the experience, the strategies, and the steadiness that you need to help guide you through your birth. They will hold your hand, murmur soothing words, give your partner ways to help, advocate for you with healthcare professionals, and many even provide prenatal and post-birth support.
4. Make a plan
Identify your ideal childbirth. There are many different ways to have a natural birth–and only you can determine what you’re okay with and what you’re not. For example, are you simply trying to avoid medication? Or do you also want to be IV-free? (Note: explore the use of a saline-lock if your hospital requires IV access!) What’s important to you: being able to birth in any position or being able to determine on your own how and when to push? Will you allow cervical checks? After you’ve determined what you’d like your birth to look like, write it down. You can even consider bringing it with you to your hospital or birthing center.
5. Talk to your healthcare provider
Whether you’re planning a hospital birth with an OB/GYN, a home birth with a midwife, a birthing center, or any other arrangement, it is vital that you communicate your desire for a natural birth with your provider. They’ll be a key factor in your success. If they seem resistant, educate them and do what you can to find other sources of support. Pro-tip: If you’re having a hospital birth, ask for a nurse experienced with natural birth when you check in. It will make all the difference.
6. Be flexible
Your plan is simply a plan. Keep an open mind and know that sometimes babies don’t follow plans. If you, your partner, and your healthcare provider are all on the same page, you’ll have a much better chance of achieving your ideal–or at least something close. Being flexible will help you roll with the punches as you prepare to meet the newest love of your life.
Strategies for Natural Childbirth
1. Practice your breathing
This may conjure caricatures of women hee-hee-hooing through a Lamaze class, but breathing really IS essential to your natural childbirth. And, though it may seem easy, when you’re in the throes of contractions it can be anything but easy. Take some time to really focus on breathing exercises–deep, slow, focused. Practice in a variety of situations: at the supermarket, while you’re driving, lying down at night. The more you practice, the more it becomes second-nature.
2. Find your affirmations
“I am STRONG!” “If I want it, I can do it.” “My body is opening so I can meet my child.” Explore your feelings (or the Internet) to find the affirmations that speak to you. Write them down and read them often. You can even make them pretty enough to display at your birth, if you like.
3. Stay active
You’ve probably heard it before: childbirth is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes endurance, strength, and mental fortitude. Keeping your body flexible, toned, and moving if you can.
4. Find your tribe
They’re a dime a dozen: people who insist you’re crazy for wanting a natural childbirth or that it cannot be done. They’re wrong on both counts. You are making a decision for your well-being and that of your child, and you can do it. Don’t let the naysayers keep you down. Minimize your contact with them, or at least try to avoid the topic when they’re around. Instead, find those who support your efforts and uplift you.
5. Explore different positions
Being stuck on your back can make childbirth challenging. Experiment with what feels good to your body: all fours? side-lying? squatting? walking? There are so many different ways that women can give birth; find some that work for you. And keep an open mind: what you like before going into labor might be totally different from how you feel when the contractions are in full swing.
6. Stay at home as long as possible
Assuming you’re heading into a birth center or hospital, explore the possibility of laboring at home as long as possible. There’s something uniquely comforting about laboring in your own space, with your own familiar surroundings. You have more freedom to move, make noise, and be dressed the way you feel most comfortable. You can take bath, walk the stairs, or even eat a meal. Plus, the longer you are at home, the less likely you will be to have (or request) interventions. Make sure you check with your provider for tips on knowing when to go in, and enlist the help of your doula or labor support partner in staying at home as long as possible.
Using these tips can help you prepare for your impending childbirth and reach your goal of a natural birth. Having a full grab-bag of tips and tricks will bring you that much closer to the birth of your choosing. Let NewbornCourse.com be your partner and provide you with the resources you need to make it happen!
12 Tips to Achieve Your Goal of a Natural Childbirth