14 Ways to Dramatically Increase Your Chances of Having a Natural Birth

Is your heart set on a natural birth? When I was pregnant with my first baby I had so many hopes and dreams - and they started with a good birth for her. I was willing to do whatever I could to increase my chances of having a natural birth - so I did a lot of research and discovered that there is a lot you can do!

  • Take a natural childbirth class
  • Learn skills to handle labor and birth
  • Choose a supportive care provider
  • Pay attention to your prenatal diet
  • Move a lot during pregnancy
  • Clear your fears about birth
  • Cultivate calm
  • Be choosy about who gets into the delivery room
  • Consider hiring a doula
  • Stay connected to your “why”
  • Wait to go to the hospital
  • Move during labor
  • Maximize hormones that help you
  • Know how to handle the tough stuff

After having all of my babies naturally - and helping thousands of women have natural births - here are my tried, tested, and true tips to dramatically increase your chances of having a natural birth:

1. Take a Natural Childbirth Class

It’s essential to understand childbirth before you give birth. You’d never play a tennis match without understanding how to handle a tennis racket. And even though you know how to jog, run, and climb, you’d probably spend some time understanding how marathons and mountain climbs work before doing them!

There are different levels of understanding birth. There are basic, physical things that happen during birth, and it’s good to know what’s going on.

You also need to know how labor usually progresses, and how to work with your baby and your body during contractions.

I specified a natural childbirth class because hospital classes do a bad job preparing you for natural birth. They teach a simplified version of how labor works that may not help you truly understand what’s happening with your body, baby, and hormones.

And they teach almost nothing about how to actually handle contractions and get through labor!

Choose a natural childbirth class. In person classes like Bradley classes are a great choice. If time is an issue, and online course like Hypnobabies or my online MamaBaby Birthing classes are a great idea.

(NOTE: Want Real Mom Tested Techniques for Handling Labor Pain? Use these 11 proven natural childbirth techniques to handle labor and keep things moving right along. Get them here.)

Handle Labor Pain

2. Learn Skills to Handle Labor and Birth

Modern society rarely expects people to do things without some sort of training. Athletes train. New employees train. Teachers learn how to teach. We even have shelves filled with books on parenting and books on how to be better lovers…

…yet somehow, we don’t think we need to do anything to give birth naturally. After all, it’s “just natural.”

How many of the things I listed above are “just natural?” You have a baby so you’re a parent… you get married so you’re a lover…

…but we know we can improve at these things if we learn and grow in skills.

Birth is no different. In the Birthing Better course, the Common Knowledge Trust talks about learning “skills” for birth - and the more babies I’ve birthed and women I’ve helped, the more I like that term…

…skills are simply methods and techniques you use during your baby’s birth. They can be things like breathing techniques. They can be strategies like changing positions when things get tough or baby seems “stuck.”

A good natural childbirth class teaches you all of these - and you should spend a little time every day or so practicing things like breathing, relaxation, understanding different labor/birth positions and more.

These skills will be your #1 ally in having the natural birth you want - and a skilled birthing family is less likely to have interventions and more likely to be respected and left in peace to birth naturally. Care providers aren’t used to seeing skilled births!

Increase Chances of Natural Birth

3. Choose a Supportive Care Provider

Your care provider can make a big difference during your birth. A care provider who supports natural birth can make sure you have what you most need to be successful:

…few interventions, privacy, and room to move and work with your baby.

Where you choose to give birth does have an impact, so consider that as well. Hospitals, birth centers, and home can all be good choices. Pick where you want to birth, then look at care providers serving those areas.

If you’re choosing a hospital, look at the cesarean rates and induction rates for that hospital, and if possible, for your care provider (you can also ask for these rates if you’re using a birth center or a home birth midwife). These will give you an idea of your provider’s attitude.

A provider who is okay with you going without an IV and who doesn’t have a problem with you moving around the room during your labor is likely a good choice. A provider open to labor in water is also likely more focused on natural birth success.

4. Pay Attention to Your Prenatal Diet

My midwife with my very first baby devoted a lot of time to teaching me how to eat right for a healthy pregnancy and birth.

After eight babies and helping thousands of women, I know why. A healthy, well-nourished mama = a healthy baby, a healthy placenta, a healthy uterus, and a better birth!

Good nutrition means your body is strong and ready for labor. Your uterus is a muscle - which needs protein and energy to grow and work well.

Your blood supply also increases during pregnancy - directly supported by your diet. A full blood supply means soft, healthy tissues and a good milk supply after you birth your baby. It also increases safety during birth.

A healthy birth weight baby is also easier to give birth to, and stays vigorous and active throughout the birth process.

5. Move a Lot During Pregnancy

You need to stay active during your pregnancy. Exercise, and more than that, regular movement, have the same positive impact that good nutrition does.

Moving regularly - walking is the easiest and best pregnancy exercise to start with - helps keep you healthy. It boosts your respiratory, circulatory, and lymphatic systems. You can start simply and add in whatever pregnancy exercise routines you like.

But also be sure to move throughout the day. Get up from your desk and move around. Follow your toddler on rambling walks. Bend down and (especially) squat to pick things up, get things out of cabinets, or do household tasks.

This keeps your body gently toned and prepared for birthing. Additionally, regular movement keeps your pelvis flexible and lines your baby up into a good position.

6. Clear Your Fears About Birth

There’s no shame in admitting you have fears about childbirth. Experienced midwives know that in many ways “worry is the work of pregnancy” - anxieties and fears about all kinds of things creep up as you get closer to your baby’s birthday.

Some of those fears may be unrelated to the birth process. Common fears are that something will be “wrong” with your baby, like a health problem or disability.

Other common fears are about mothering - will you be a good enough mom, or how you’ll juggle motherhood and your career.

Some moms worry about having enough love or energy to go around for all their children. Dads tend to worry more about finances and providing - so you may pick up on some of that stress, too.

And of course, many fears are related to birth itself - fear of complications, fear of interventions, fear of the need for a c-section, etc. You may also be scared of the pain!

All of these fears are normal. Taking time to work through those fears during pregnancy helps you let go of them and trust more in yourself during birth.

I walk through how to examine your fears, understand them, and let them go in the fear-clearing section of MamaBaby Birthing.

(NOTE: Want Real Mom Tested Techniques for Handling Labor Pain? Use these 11 proven natural childbirth techniques to handle labor and keep things moving right along. Get them here.)

Handle Labor Pain

7. Cultivate Calm

While worry is the work of pregnancy, you can create a habit of calm during your pregnancy.

Stress is a normal part of life as a human being - you and your baby will both experience it. But discovering what works to help you relax is a powerful skill for both you and your baby. As Karen Strange said during one of my online birth summits, you give a gift to your baby when you experience stress and then calm down.

Cultivating calm throughout your pregnancy means taking time for you - rest and recharge yourself. Take gentle walks. Take naps where you practice breathing and relaxation. Take time to wind down at night. Work through your worries.

All of these things help create a habit of calm and a habit of handling stress - before labor begins.

During your birthing time you can create a calm environment:

  • Carefully choose who to have in the delivery room
  • Keep the lights low
  • Choose calming or inspiring music
  • Use breathing and relaxation
  • Choose low moans to get through contractions
  • Rock or sway your hips gently to handle the intensity of birth

All of these things can help you stay calmer. Remember, birthing your baby is about two people…

…you, and your baby. Keep that focus and do what works to help you.

8. Be Choosy About Who Gets Into the Delivery Room

As I hinted above, you need to be careful about who you let into the delivery room.

While your baby’s birth is a happy, joyous event for the whole family, it’s not a sporting even or dramatic production where everyone gets a free ticket!

Think of your baby’s birth a bit more like your baby’s conception - quiet, intimate, private. You’ll have your care provider and team, and likely your husband or birth partner.

But you don’t need a lot of people there - and too many people can really slow things down, take the focus off of you, and ultimately make it much harder to progress and have a natural birth.

Stressed mamas tend to see labor slow down - just like a watched pot “never” boils. Tell people they’ll be able to visit after the baby is born - there’s no need to to have a crowd at the birth!

Boost Chances of Natural Birth

9. Consider Hiring a Doula

One valuable person to have in the birthing suite is a doula. She’s not there simply as a spectator - nor is she there as a care provider.

Instead, your doula is there solely for you - and she’s devoted to helping you stay calm, comfortable, and in control as you give birth.

Doulas have been proven to be beneficial in study after study. They can run interference for you with care providers (though you still make final decisions). And they help you cope with all the sensations labor brings.

A doula can help you if labor seems slow and can give your husband or birth partner a much-needed break or free him up to sit with you without needing to remember everything from your childbirth classes. I’m a huge fan of skilled daddies - but a doula is a great compliment to a birthing family’s team.

Women with doulas have more natural births, fewer interventions, and fewer c-sections.

10. Stay Connected to Your “Why”

Remember why you chose natural birth. Giving birth naturally isn’t just about being strong or sacrificing for your baby.

Rather, a natural birth is the best choice for both your baby and for you. Babies are more alert and energetic after natural birth. They nurse better and are more ready to bond. Mamas are also stronger and more alert after a natural birth.

Natural birth hormones have a protective effect during and after birth as well, meaning mamas have lower postpartum complications and a quicker recovery.

You also get benefits during labor itself - greater mobility and a quicker labor, including a faster pushing stage.

11. Wait to Go to the Hospital

Labor hormones are incredibly powerful - so powerful they have their own section shortly - but a lot can interrupt them…

…resulting in a slower labor.

Going to the hospital too soon in labor is one of those things. Adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone gets activated when a birthing mother has a change that her body perceives as a threat - and the transition to the hospital often causes this... and stops labor.

Late in labor adrenaline can actually speed things up, but early on, it slows things down to give the mama a chance to get to “safety.”

That’s why many mamas see their labors stall if they go in too early. Sometimes women aren’t really in labor - it’s normal to experience periods of contractions at the end your pregnancy that then fade out. Your uterus is toning and getting ready for the work of birthing your baby.

The best way to handle this is to wait for labor to be well-established before you go in. The “4-1-1” rule is a good rule of thumb - contractions four minutes apart (from peak to peak), lasting for at least 1 minute, and have been going in this pattern for 1 hour. For second-time or subsequent mamas, a 5-1-1 rule is a good guideline.

When you go to the hospital or birth center with your labor well-established, your birthing hormone levels are already high and things are likely to keep going smoothly - or even speed up a bit.

Additionally, it’s more comfortable to labor at home and you can figure out what techniques work best for you, then transition to using those at the hospital or birth center.

12. Move During Labor

Movement is one of your best allies during labor. Now you can do a lot of movement - you’ve probably seen videos of mamas really getting down and dancing during labor.

But slower dancing, rocking on hands and knees, rocking on a birth ball, gently swaying, etc. also really help!

Your pelvis is not rigid - it can move and flex. And your baby is moving, flexing, and rotating during labor. When you move you can create room for your baby to rotate and come down.

Movement also helps you deal with the awesome energy of labor and your contractions. It is your most powerful ally for a speedy natural birth.

13. Maximize Hormones That Help You

Hormones are powerful helpers during birth. All of the tips I’ve shared above will really help you keep your hormone levels high.

As I said, high birth hormones have a protective effect, and they keep labor moving.

They also provide powerful pain-relieving effects, and they help you relax and rest during the breaks between contractions. In fact, as intense as a contraction might be, the time between contractions can feel very meditative because powerful hormonal helpers allow you to relax (beta-endorphin is the primary helper here).

Labor hormones also help you bond with your baby in the immediate postpartum, and assure that breastfeeding gets off to a good start.

You protect and establish high levels of labor hormones by keeping the environment calm and safe. Wait to go to the hospital or birthing center, and keep the room darker and quieter. Keep your vocalizations lower - at least until pushing when sometimes mamas need a bit of oomph 😉

14. Know How to Handle the Tough Stuff

Many mamas find they get into a groove at the beginning of labor - early labor, or the latent phase, can be pretty relaxed and easy. You should take things easy during this time - don’t get too excited or worked up. Rest!

But as things get more intense, some mamas struggle. That’s why you want to be ready to handle the tougher times when they come.

Use all of your birthing skills - such as relaxation, breathing, position changes, and movement - at this point.

And consider effective natural pain relief, like water. Women who labor in water and who birth in water report less pain than women who choose a land birth.

Prepare specifically for tougher points in labor, like transition and the “ring of fire” during pushing.

Each of these tips is invaluable to your preparation for a natural birth - and will dramatically increase your chances of a natural birth. A healthy, knowledgeable, and skilled birthing mama is truly a Wonder Woman <3

14 Tips to Boost Chances of Natural Birth

Related Questions

How do you guarantee a natural birth?

Life never comes with guarantees, but a saying that has always resonated with me is “birth is as safe as life gets.” Life always involves risks and chances - and so does birth. Birth, however, is designed to work. It’s how there are so many of us on the planet 😉 You dramatically increase your chances of a natural birth following the tips in this article and fully preparing for childbirth.

How can I increase my chances of having a VBAC?

Prepare for a VBAC in the same way that you prepare for a natural birth - take a natural childbirth class, focusing especially on skills for a great natural birth. Being skilled empowers you to work with your body and your baby throughout labor - navigating any “stalls,” interventions, or other issues. A supportive care provider is important for VBAC mamas, too - a great compliment to being healthy, skilled, and mobile during labor!

Can you be too small to have a natural birth?

While this is a common fear, it’s rare for a woman to be “too small” to birth her baby vaginally (and without drugs). True problems occurred in centuries past because of malnutrition that’s rare today. Instead, impatience with birth, restrictions on mothers, and lack of movement during labor often cause problems today. Click here to read my full article on increasing pelvic size!

(NOTE: Want Real Mom Tested Techniques for Handling Labor Pain? Use these 11 proven natural childbirth techniques to handle labor and keep things moving right along. Get them here.)

Handle Labor Pain
14 Ways to Increase Chances of Natural Birth

About the author 

Kristen

Kristen is a wife and a mama to 8 - all born naturally! She has spent years helping mamas have healthy babies, give birth naturally, and enjoy the adventure of motherhood. Find her on her website NaturalBirthandBabyCare.com and helping families through her online childbirth class MamaBabyBirthing.com

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