Preparing for Natural Childbirth

Before you go into labor, your preparation for a natural birth begins. In fact, they may begin even before you conceive! Preparation means arming yourself with knowledge through research and knowing your options. Here are some tips on how you can prepare for natural childbirth.

You Can’t Know Too Much

As you research the stories of women who had terrible birth experiences, you will probably find this common thread: ignorance. These women lament how they “just didn’t know” or that “no one told them” what to expect. This is why it’s vital to learn everything you can about the birth process, and from a variety of sources.

If you already know you want a natural childbirth, then look at books and websites that are supportive of this choice. Learn about the physical process of birth – how it happens, what happens, and so forth. Also, read up on the immediate hours following birth, an area many women forget about in their research. You will want to make sure those precious hours are protected so that you can give your baby the best possible entrance into the world.

Avoid Frustrating Confrontations

You may not have the option of surrounding yourself with naturally-minded healthcare professionals during your pregnancy. If this is the case, you might want to perfect the “smile and nod” method of interacting with traditional OBs. Just remember that your doctor is not infallible, and you still have a choice. After you “smile and nod,” just go home and research what he or she said yourself and make your decision.

Everything from glucose tests to labor induction can be questioned, researched, and opted out of. It might help to bring copies of your latest research and respectfully explain to your OB why you have chosen to forego a particular procedure or method. Some OBs have ended up supporting women who’ve done good research to back up their choices.

Learning to Cope

Going in prepared is key to coping with your labor experience. Understand natural pain relief exercises you can do and visualization exercises during labor. One of the most important things to remember is that your body is designed to give birth – those sensations you feel that can seem so overwhelming are your body doing its job! Try to relax and let it do its work.

Work with your body rather than tensely fighting against it. Some midwives describe this as “welcoming” or “embracing” the pain, as a welcome sign that the baby is on its way and the labor is moving along.

Have a Birth Plan

Begin by writing out your entire plan, then tweak it, taking out unnecessary points and emphasizing important ones. This plan may end up being viewed by you alone, or you may have it reviewed by your OB. If you are in a situation where you see multiple OBs, such as at a military hospital, you can bring this plan along for each OB to review. The important thing is for you to know your plan thoroughly and share it with whom you think needs to be in on it.

One resource I highly recommend is The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland. Anyone who books me as a doula will receive a copy of this book during our first prenatal session in addition to other goodies hand selected just for you. We also work through the creation of your birth plan together and I educate you about the process of birth so you can make informed decisions and have the birth of your dreams. SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CONSULTATION WITH ME  

Birth Education Classes

Attending birth classes can go a long way toward relieving the anxiety and doubt that so many women and their partners have about labor and delivery. These classes tend to build confidence in your ability to give birth. Birth education is also an important tool in making informed decisions and having the labor and birth you want.

Here are some tips and suggestions as to what you can expect at a birth education class, and how you can find the right class for you.

What Happens in the Class?

Usually, you will attend the class with your partner if possible. Some couples say the classes brought them closer together.

Classes last anywhere from six to eight weeks. During this time, you will learn some of the following.

* How the process of birth works. Many of us are surprisingly ignorant of how a normal birth happens. Childbirth classes will help explain this. This helps take the surprise out of the labor process – it can be very powerful, and if you don’t know what’s going on, it can be frightening.

* You will likely learn relaxation and coping techniques.

* Interventions and hospital procedures are explained and discussed.

* The class will probably offer opportunities for you to ask questions, share fears and experiences, and/or assure others.

* Your partner will learn how best to support you during labor.

* If your class is in the hospital (which they usually are), you will probably take a tour of the birthing facility. Make sure you take the opportunity to ask questions.

How to Find a Class That’s Right for You

If you are not planning on a hospital birth, you may not want to take the local hospital’s classes. Or if you choose an alternative birth in the hospital, it’s a good idea to take the class to find out the hospital’s policies regarding interventions and such. Here are some tips for finding the right class for you.

* Lamaze classes are helpful for women seeking natural childbirth that is facilitated by controlled breathing. You’ll learn about body positioning, labor support, pain relief techniques like massage, and breastfeeding.

* Bradley classes are another form of a natural birth method designed to teach women how to relax and “embrace” the labor. Bradley classes also offer students education in nutrition, exercise, and other prenatal care. Breastfeeding is also part of Bradley education.

* If you choose a conventional hospital birth, your local hospital will probably offer classes on site as part of your plan to birth in their facility.

If you’re interested in our childbirth education classes, check the upcoming classes and register online HERE:

Is a Home Birth Right for You?

While the concept of giving birth at home is certainly not new, its resurgence in modern society is rather recent. If you’ve heard about the “home birth movement” and want to learn more, or perhaps are considering a home birth for yourself, you may have lots of questions. It’s important that one of the first questions you answer is, is a home birth right for me?

Here are some tips, options, and so forth to help you decide if this is an appropriate option for you.

“It’s a Baby, Not an Emergency”

Have you heard this one? Maybe you’ve read it on a bumper sticker! Regardless, the above quote is something midwives and other homebirth advocates often cite. Why?

The basic premise behind home birth is the belief in birth as a normal, healthy process that only requires medical intervention when true problems arise or are present. The basic concept of home birth is that normal childbirth does not warrant a screaming trip to the ER. So understanding this important, basic concept behind home birth – and deciding whether or not you agree with it – is a good first step toward deciding if home birth is for you.

Who Is a Candidate for Home Birth?

Home birth suits women who have low-risk, healthy pregnancies (which is the majority of pregnant women). Some midwives and naturally-minded advocates of home birth stretch the meaning of “low-risk” a bit so that it’s beyond the medical definition of the term.

For example, obstetricians generally categorize all pregnant women over the age of 35 as “high risk” simply due to their age. But some midwives have attended home births where the mother was a first-time mom and was over the age of 35. So it pays to get various opinions about your risk level as you are being evaluated.

Where You Feel Secure

Some women feel more secure surrounded by the latest medical equipment and technology, with lots of hospital staff on hand. Others may find this intimidating, preferring the privacy and relative peace of home.

Still, other women feel more secure having control over their birth experience, which may be best accomplished in a home birth. Some moms don’t feel like they can relax in their own home; they can’t stop the feeling that they need to clean up or do something. Take some time to consider where you feel the most secure, and what would be stressful and what would be relaxing.

Preparation

Home births do require some preparation. Of course, you will have the usual prenatal visits with your midwife or healthcare provider, but you will also need to prepare your home for the event. Making meals ahead and freezing them is important, not only for your family but for the midwives who may be staying in your home for some time during the labor.

You will probably be advised to sterilize washcloths and towels by baking them in the oven in paper bags, and you may need to invest in some olive oil or other natural lubricants. If you want aromatherapy, candles, special music, etc., you will need to get those things together and ready. You will also need to make sure your local ambulance and emergency services can find you, and you might even want to alert them as to the pending home birth.