People mean different things when they say “natural birth.” For some it means, having a vaginal birth. For others it means having a vaginal birth without an epidural. For the sake of this post, I’m going by the definition that “natural birth” means having an unmedicated vaginal birth so that you can experience physiological birth.
There are many ways to prepare for the unmedicated birth. But here’s my list of 10 things you can do to stack the odds in your favor to get the “natural” birth that you want.
1. Find a healthcare provider that is experienced and supportive of a physiological birth.
This is important because you wouldn’t go to McDonald’s to order a steak, right? So you want to make sure you’re going with the right provider to support your vision for birth.
2. Pick a place to give birth that’s likely to support physiological birth.
Are you high or low risk? Think about what you want…Do you want to give birth in the water? Some hospitals will support laboring in the water but not giving birth in the water. Others are supportive of a water birth. Do you prefer to give birth at home with a homebirth midwife? Or at a local birth center? Some insurance will cover those places as well. If you’re high risk or prefer to give birth in a hospital, then do that. Give birth wherever you feel the safest. There are ways to have the unmedicated birth in a hospital setting, but you can do things to prepare for that by following the rest of this list!
3. Attend a Childbirth Education class that’s offered outside of the hospital.
Sometimes hospital classes are okay but they mostly teach you how to be an ideal patient and usually assume that you want a medicated birth. A class that’s taught outside of the hospital are mostly taught by childbirth educators and doulas. They are taught with the latest evidence based information. The classes will usually cover the process of birth, how to prepare for it emotionally, mentally and physically, what to expect, comfort measures, position changes, advocacy skills, what happens shortly after birth, chest/breastfeeding (if you plan on doing that), and early postpartum. It tends to be longer than hospital classes but for good reason – there’s a lot of materials to cover!
Did you know that some insurance, HSA and FSA can reimburse you for taking a childbirth class?
4. Stay physically active during pregnancy to help maintain your strength and flexibility.
Plus research has shown that when you exercise regularly in pregnancy, you have higher levels of endorphins during labor. Endorphins are the body’s naturally occurring opiates (aka pain relief like) which can help your mind be in a state of consciousness to allow your body do its thing and birth your baby.
If you want an exercise program that is customized to your week of pregnancy (or postpartum) that you’re in and set the intensity, I recommend One Strong Mama exercise program. It’s been recommended by doctors, midwives, chiropractors, physical therapists and doulas worldwide. Email me if you want a $10 Off discount code for that.
5. Learn about pain management techniques
Such as deep breathing, visualization, relaxation exercises, massages, water therapy, TENS Unit, nitrous oxide, position changes to help labor progress and so much more.
6. Make a birth plan
This helps outlines your preferences and wishes for the birth, such as desired atmosphere, who your labor support partners are, things you want to happen during labor, pushing, delivering the placenta and after the baby is born. It’s good to examine all your options so that you’re informed about it and ready for it when birth deviates from your “ideal” plan. Lucky for you, I made a birth preference template for you to download!
7. Stay informed about the potential interventions
That may be offered to you during labor and delivery, so that you can make informed decisions if the situation arises.
Interventions aren’t always bad or good. They can be life saving or medically necessary. We want to consider the benefits and risks to discern whether it’s medically necessary to have the intervention AND whether you want it or not.
8. Keep an open mind, birth is unpredictable
…and unpredictable things can happen. Be flexible and stay adaptable to change if necessary. Ask B.R.A.I.N. questions to help make an informed decision.
9. Have a supportive partner and/or labor support team
Such as a parent, sibling or a friend to help you get the unmedicated birth that you hope to get. Having continuous support while you’re in “laborland” and breathing contractions, really does help you push through and do a hard thing to give birth!
I tell my doula clients that pick support people that you feel comfortable pooping in front of! We know the impact of feeling safe and supported can have on the hormones dance that happens during labor. That can help labor progress! If you feel uncomfortable, obligated or unable to relaxed around a person, they probably shouldn’t be in the birth space in the first place because that can cause labor to stall, slow down or stop.
10. Hire a doula
A doula is a trained professional who provides emotional, informational and physical support to a birthing person and their partner during labor and childbirth. Hiring a doula can have several benefits for both the birth giver and the baby.
For the birth giver, a doula can provide emotional support, help with pain management, and help with advocacy for their preferences and needs during the birth process. This can lead to shorter labor, a more positive birth experience and a lower risk of interventions such as C-section or the use of instruments such as forceps.
For the baby, a doula can help promote a safe and healthy birth, potentially reducing the risk of complications. Additionally, a doula can provide support and guidance to the birthing person and their partner postpartum, helping them to adjust to their new role as parents.
Read all about my doula services on my website here. I recommend that you interview a few doulas and go with one that you feel the most comfortable with and vibe the best with. Did you know that I offer a free consult?
I hope this list helps! All it matters is that you feel empowered to make informed decisions, that you feel heard and supported by your providers, and have knowledge of the birth process and tools to get through a hard thing and give birth.