I am no expert, athlete, or health junkie, but here’s my take on going all natural! If nothing else, I am stubborn, which may be the soul reason I was actually able to successfully birth my first baby with no drugs. To be completely transparent, Anna was eventually brought into this world with the help of a vacuum after a lot of pushing! Other than that a completely natural labor (her birth story will be the up soon)!
So here is the skinny from my point of view. I was definitely drinking the “all natural” Koolaid during my first pregnancy. Reading a few books, doing all the recommended exercises, etc. I totally recommend doing that by the way (links to the books I found helpful are at the end of the post)! However, when it comes down to actually laboring, despite my thorough research there was just no way to really know what it was going to FEEL like. Well it hurts, yes it really hurts and is the most painful thing I have ever experienced, yet I would and am going to try this time around to do it natural again! During my first pregnancy I took a pretty prideful and pompous stance on childbirth that basically went along the lines of the cliché “It’s what women’s bodies are meant to do” and “women have been doing it since the beginning of time without medical intervention”. I don’t really subscribe to that thought process anymore. I DO believe it’s pretty incredible what a woman’s body can do, what my body did! However, I think that train of thought completely discounts the fact that a lot of women used to die during childbirth, and without C-sections and other necessary interventions there are lot of mothers today that may not have been able to deliver their babies if it weren’t for well, modern medicine. THAT BEING SAID, I totally believe that if you want to have a natural childbirth that you should, and that you CAN! So here are my biggest tips (I am partially typing this out to pump myself up for my second childbirth experience since it’s almost go time).
- Confidence- Be confident in yourself and your body. When I decided I wanted to go all natural I actually encountered a lot of opposition. I of course also encountered a lot of support (thank God). There were a lot of discouraging or negative comments from health professionals, to well-meaning random mothers who basically tell you you can’t do it, or my favorite “Oh, you say you want to go natural now, just wait… you will be wanting that epidural.” NO, Just NO to this mentality. If you really want to do it and there is of course no unforeseen danger requiring a C-section, then by all means you can! It is a marathon, but I am no athlete (I’m a drama nerd actually), and I did it. So that prideful, pompous attitude I mentioned earlier… turn that into real confidence instead because it is actually IMHO the key to achieving a natural childbirth.
- Breathe-Breathe through the pain. I loosely followed the Bradley Method and the focus on breathing is not about modifying your breath or Lamaze type breathing. It’s more of a yoga type of deep breathing where you essentially take deep, albeit normal breaths and breathe into the pain/contractions. It is great though because I seriously did not scream like women in the movies. I don’t think I screamed or really even made much noise at all… maybe some Venus and Serena tennis grunts when it came to the pushing 🙂
- Labor at home as long as possible (if you aren’t full out going for a homebirth, in which case this doesn’t apply to you)- Laboring primarily at home was the BEST decision! It is just more comfortable than being in a hospital room or bed. For early labor it is great because before the contractions are too intense you can eat, walk around, and as crazy as it sounds, I really did doze off, as in SLEPT, in between contractions a few times. The rule that I followed was go to the hospital when your contractions are 1 minute long and three minutes apart for at least an hour or when your water breaks. Your doctor will advise you to come in when your contractions are 1 minute long and 5 minutes apart. Every body is different and the speed of labor is different. My labor was super long so if I had gone in based on that the 1:5 rule I would have been in the hospital for like 10 extra hours and because I was progressing slowly, they would have most likely wanted to give me Pitocin. By all means talk to your doctor and do what is right for you. Their advice is a pretty good rule of thumb. I’ll share my specific experience in Anna’s birth story. I ended up being admitted to the hospital after my water broke and it was good timing as far as dilation because I was too far along for an epidural. That was basically the plan and it ended up working.
- Hitting “THE WALL” and not succumbing to it!: Everything I read to prepare for labor talks about hitting a wall, a point where the “I CAN’T” mentality completely takes over. It is real. I remember saying, it over and over when my contractions finally seemed to be too much. This is where #2 really helps out and simply refusing drugs/the epidural if you are in a hospital at this point. I was at home still and so drugs were not an available option. For me I must have been around 5-7 centimeters dilated when I felt this overwhelming pain and desire to make it stop! I know that basically from that point until 10 centimeters has been deemed the ring of fire (hehe). Not really funny. But, I swear it ends and as soon as it ends you are onto a completely different ballgame, the pushing. By that time it is really liberating and you are weirdly excited and ready for that phase of labor, the active phase, so yay!!!
I won’t touch on the pushing too much because really your body makes you do it and the urge is there. It can be pretty great from what I understand, but for me it was pretty miserable and lasted over two hours. Not the norm, but I am also assured second births go smoother. That is what I am banking on anyway! Now I am going to read these tips a few Dtimes and channel my inner “You can do it” Goddess so I can go into this labor with great confidence, but also knowing that if I have to be flexible for some unforeseen reason that all is well. Praying for all those expectant mama’s out there, for healthy deliveries, and above all healthy babies!
Prenatal Yoga videos on youtube -helps with loosening the tight spots during pregnancy and of course some pelvic floor muscle strengthening
Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way – I used this book the most. It not only has exercises to get your body ready, but also I read and re-read all the info. on the phases of labor. It really helped me to know what was happening throughout labor and a general idea of where I was in the process, which is mentally so helpful. Warning: the edition I have has a lot of labor pictures, that are from the 8os, so be prepared for that.
Husband-Coached Childbirth -The Bradley Method is big on having a coach who is there for you during your labor and knows how to encourage you. James also learned about the phases of childbirth and knew my desires and expectations. Disclaimer: I can’t remember how much we delved into this book. I think a big part of your coach’s role is knowing you and how you handle physical and mental stress. James was present and calm. That is really all I needed from him! I wanted to know he was there and if I did need anything he was the one to go fetch it basically.