Natural childbirth is a safe, healthy choice for you and for your baby. Avoiding interventions and medications during labor gives your baby a healthy start. Both of you are alert and aware. Knowing that, it's still normal for natural labor and delivery to seem overwhelming 🙂
Here are some common-sense guidelines and tips for giving birth naturally:
Being able to relax is one of the most useful skills you take into labor. You need to be relaxed to give birth. Tense, tight muscles make it hard for your body to open.
You can use a guided relaxation throughout your pregnancy to discover your different muscle groups and how to relax them on purpose.
It's really important, however, to find out how to relax the right groups of muscles. You may know how to relax your forehead, for instance, but that's not where your baby comes out!
Relaxation practice during pregnancy is simple: just notice what makes you tense, and what makes you relax. When you feel tense practice consciously relaxing. Just paying attention to yourself throughout pregnancy helps during labor and birth.
You can give birth to your baby. Your body is designed for it.
You can use simple phrases throughout your pregnancy to get your thoughts focused on a safe, natural birth. Quick thoughts like: “my body is opening for my baby,” or, “my baby knows how to come down my birth canal,” work well.
You can come up with more of these “affirmations,” phrases that feel right to you. You can read over them every day, think about them, or even say them out loud and post them around your house! I've always kept a sheet of affirmations beside my bed during pregnancy, and read over them when straightening up my room each morning.
You come believe thoughts that you repeat, and in believing, you help your natural childbirth experience happen.
Spend time imaging your labor. Your birth will have differences from what you imagine – but you might be surprised by just how close your experience comes to the birth you've been “practicing” in your mind's eye.
Visualizations and affirmations really help you believe in your body. They also overcome negative things you've heard about giving birth. Olympic athletes use these same strategies to become champions – they really work. Try it.
The people with you have a huge effect on your natural childbirth experience. Choose your support people carefully 🙂
Your partner can be an excellent companion during your labor. Some women feel more comfortable with their mother, sister, or best friend by their side during labor. Many expectant moms hire a doula. A doula has immense wisdom about natural childbirth and will be able to help you and your coach through each stage of labor.
Your man won't know what to expect or what to do during labor if you're never talked about it. You both need to be prepared. Taking a natural birthing class in your city or going through an online birthing class together gives you both a chance to talk. It also gives you a chance to practice what you're discovering about birth. Remember, what you practice now becomes natural during labor!.
Will natural childbirth be a possibility where you've chosen to give birth?
If you plan a home birth or a birth center birth, you can be pretty confident that your wishes for a natural birth will be honored and encouraged. Natural birth is harder in the hospital, but still possible.
Preparing for birth by reading birth stories, watching great videos, talking with your care provider, and taking a birthing class really help you have the birth you want – at home, hospital, or birthing center.
Stay at home as long as possible (no matter where you're giving birth). You won't feel “put on the spot” or “observed.” At home you're free to eat and drink as you please – and you'll have no IV or fetal monitor belt attached to you. You won't be forced to remain in bed.
Take some familiar things with you when you go to the birth center or hospital. Take your own pillows and your own gown. Take a picture you love or a special trinket. Quiet, low lighting, and soothing music may all help you during a natural labor and birth.
Remember the skills you practice during pregnancy will help you no matter where you birth – relaxation, body awareness, controlled breathing, etc. all help.
You may not be completely sure (or completely convinced!) that you're in labor during the early stages.
If it's daytime, do what you'd normally do. Maybe you can take a walk and then have a rest. Or get out in the garden, play with your other children, or clean your kitchen 😉
If it's nighttime, go to sleep! You'll wake up if you need to. And if you get a good night's sleep you'll be very grateful for the rest before you move into active labor.
Some mothers enjoy going out for a relaxed dinner when they're in early labor. They may be feeling slightly cramp-y and unsure if “this is it” or not. Dinner helps you relax and gives you energy for labor. I know that a delicious bowl of black bean soup gave me the fuel I needed for the natural childbirth of my second baby!
Ask yourself “what do I want to be doing right now?” It's a great way of catching yourself if you're getting anxious. It's fine to anticipate labor but you want to be well rested! Don't exhaust yourself fretting through early labor.
Eat and drink as you want to. And move! Movement helps your baby and it helps you open up. Follow your body's signals and use the natural childbirth skills you've learned to move on through labor and meet your baby 😀