So, you want to give birth naturally? Wonderful! The benefits of a natural, unmedicated birth affect not only your baby, but you as well. In general, natural births boast of faster recovery rates for mom, and an easier time starting breastfeeding for mom and baby. Naturally born babies are more alert at birth and often are calmer.
However, there is more to giving birth naturally than showing up to the hospital in labor, or calling your midwife for your home birth. The more preparation that you do before hand, the more likely you are to successfully give birth naturally.
So, how can I be well prepared for a natural birth?
- Start preparing before you conceive. Obviously, this is not always possible, but, if you are planning on becoming pregnant, begin interviewing health care providers now. Want to deliver in a hospital? Find out which doctors are more natural birth friendly (if you can find a family practice doctor who still delivers babies, they are a great bet!), does your hospital employ CNMs? Ask other new mothers about their experiences. Do you hope to deliver in a birth center or at home? Search our directory of birth professionals in your area, and read the reviews written by other moms. Now is the time to begin interviewing and lining up a doula as well!
- Have a healthy pregnancy. Eat well, exercise, take your prenatal vitamins. Drink sufficient water. the healthier you are during pregnancy, the more likely you will have an easier delivery. Make sure that your healthcare provider pays attention to things like swelling, blood pressure and blood sugar. Then, listen to your provider. . .you chose him/her for a reason, right? (see tip #1 above).
- Take a Prepared Childbirth Class. Everyone will tell you a different favorite. The Bradley Method worked well for us. However, the most helpful part of a prepared childbirth class is knowing what to expect. Hwat are the benchmarks of stages of labor? What are good coping methods for each stage. If you do want medication as an option, when is the optimal dosing? Taking a class like this will show you that there are different concepts and levels of natural childbirth. You can find out what you feel comfortable with and learn about the rationale behind different interventions.
- Think positive thoughts. Throughout your pregnancy, remind yourself of the goal of a natural birth. Surround yourself with people who have had a successful natural birth. Learn to tune out the horror stories from other.
- Talk openly and often with your health care provider. Let your doctor or midwife know early on that your goal is an unmedicated, natural birth, free of interventions. Then, listen to your healthcare provider. If you get the impression that you are not on the same team, please feel free to seek out another provider, even mid pregnancy.
- Write up a birth plan and share it with all members of the team. This includes your health care provider, your partner, your doula, the hospital or birth center and anyone who will be involved in your birth. Remember, a birth plan is not a manifesto, or a contract. . .but it is your thoughts and views on how you would like things to go. Know that your carefully selected healthcare provider has your and baby's best interest at heart.
- Remember that the ultimate goal is a healthy baby and a healthy mom. Sometimes things don't work out according to plan. Birth is an amazing process, but things can go wrong. . .and quickly. Make sure that whatever plan you have in place makes accomadations for this.
- Keep focused. Childbirth is not unlike a marathon. There will be points along the way where you will be ready to give up. Keep pressing froward and lean on your support people! You can do this!
Chime in! What other advice would you give to a mom who wants to plan a natural birth?