1. Take a natural childbirth class!
I hear women all the time saying that too much information is overwhelming and that they think it will hinder their experience or make childbirth more scary. I understand the theory behind that and I think if it were possible to have absolutely no information on natural childbirth at all perhaps ignorance would work in your favor. This was what Dr. Grantly Dick-Read speaks of in his book Childbirth Without Fear, however in this day and age it’s impossible. We live in the age of information and socialization. At some point in time you’ve heard SOMETHING about childbirth, whether it be on a movie, TV show, through conversation, etc. These stories and visuals impact our experience and shape our outlook on birth, more often than not in the negative sense. Put some tools in your toolkit and take a good natural childbirth class so you can learn what’s really normal about birth and how well-equipped your body is for the task.
2. Hire a care provider who sees eye to eye with you.
I get it. You like your care provider. You think he or she is nice. That’s good! Doctors and midwives should be nice. Perhaps you’ve been going to see him or her since you were 16 and you feel you owe them your loyalty. Guess what? This isn’t about loyalty. This is about you and your baby and doing whatever you can to ensure a positive birth experience. Every doctor/midwife has a different view on what’s “normal” for birthing. Make sure you ask him or her a lot of questions to make sure your opinion of “normal” is the same as theirs. This is IMPORTANT.
3. Hire a doula.
You knew I was going to say that because I am one but let me set the record straight. I’m not telling you to hire a doula because I am one. I am a doula because they are amazingly beneficial in so many ways and I want all women to have a powerful and positive birth experience. Doulas support all birthing women but if you’re looking for a natural childbirth a doula can be particularly beneficial. They can help keep you calm, guide you through key position changes, educate you throughout your pregnancy, help you navigate the unexpected, show your partner how to be involved and help you stay comfy and relaxed. It can be incredibly reassuring having another woman in the room for support, especially one who is professionally trained in all things childbirth. So seriously- hire a doula.
4. Create a birth preferences sheet or “birth plan.”
While it’s important to be flexible during birth it’s also important to know what you want and creating a document of your birth preferences will act as a guide for you throughout your labor & birth. When nurses or doctors come to you with questions during labor your birth preferences will be a solid reminder of where you stand in terms of your expectations and desires for a natural childbirth. Remember to keep it short, sweet, respectful, and assertive. No need to ask for permission (it’s your body and your baby after all) but you’re also not writing out a list of demands either. Remember the nurses are on your team (in fact they are usually downright amazing)- help them out by writing out your wishes in a clear and concise manner.
5. Listen to positive affirmations.
Seriously. It seems like such a small thing but positive affirmations can have a profound impact on your birth experience. If you tell yourself how awesome you are every day it is a proven fact that you will start to believe it. Start listening to positive affirmations. Learn to truly love and trust your body. You can do it. You are strong. Your body is amazing. See what I did there?
Prepare your body! “What’s that you say? I need to prepare my body? You just told me how amazing it is!” And it is. It really really is. But it’s also about to undergo a HUGE physical feat. You wouldn’t attempt to run a marathon without doing some training first would you? If you did how successful do you think you’d be? Physically preparing your body for the incredible work it’s about to do bringing your baby into the world is only going to work in your favor. Start walking on a regular basis. Do shallow daily squats. Sit on a yoga ball. Use good posture. Get on the Spinning Babies website and start working on the 3 Principles of Pregnancy. Your body rocks. Now help it out by preparing it for birth!
6. Prepare your body!
“What’s that you say? I need to prepare my body? You just told me how amazing it is!” And it is. It really really is. But it’s also about to undergo a HUGE physical feat. You wouldn’t attempt to run a marathon without doing some training first would you? If you did how successful do you think you’d be? Physically preparing your body for the incredible work it’s about to do bringing your baby into the world is only going to work in your favor. Start walking on a regular basis. Do shallow daily squats. Sit on a yoga ball. Use good posture. Get on the Spinning Babies website and start working on the 3 Principles of Pregnancy. Your body rocks. Now help it out by preparing it for birth!
7. Relax. Just relax.
Practice daily meditations and deep breathing. Take time to reflect every day on this wonderful journey you are on. Let life’s daily annoyances fade away for a little while. Believe it or not relaxing is something most of us have to practice a bit. Shutting out all distractions and learning how to breathe deeply takes time and effort, especially in this crazy fast-paced world we live in. Set aside time every day to practice this. When you are able to relax easily it will make it that much easier to STAY relaxed when labor begins and progresses. A class such as HypnoBirthing can give you all the tools you need for deep relaxation and breathing.
8. Read some solid pregnancy and birth books.
I know you’re reading What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I know it. I read it too. But there are so many other incredible pregnancy and childbirth books out there with lots and lots of evidence-based information on what’s normal! My recommendations are HypnoBirthing: The Mongan Method by Marie Mongan, Pea in a Pod: Your Complete Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth & Beyond by Linda Goldberg, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin or The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer. For the dads- Fathers to be Handbook: A Roadmap for the Transition to Fatherhood by Patrick Houser.
9. Stop listening to people’s negative birth stories.
That includes watching them on TV too. Like it or not those stories will have an impact on your birth experience. They hang out in your memory and you will bring them with you into your birth space. They don’t belong there. This is your moment, your birth. No one else’s. Their story is not your story. It never will be. Instead try filling your head with positive, empowering birth stories. Check out birthwithoutfearblog.com for some wonderful and inspiring stories!
10. Eat healthy.
It’s tough I know. Especially in the first trimester. Then cue the food cravings. Do your best. Swap out sugary treats for more healthy options that still satisfy your sweet tooth. Drink lots of water. Eat the rainbow. No not Skittles! Lots of lots of fruits and veggies in a variety of colors. Always have healthy snacks available to stave off nausea and keep your blood sugar steady. Raw nuts and seeds are great options. Eating healthy meals will help you avoid diet-related special circumstances that can change the nature of your birth.
That’s it! There are your 10 ways to achieve a natural childbirth.
It’s so important to prepare for this moment. So much time and effort goes into so many other aspects of our lives- from home improvements to wedding planning. This is single-handedly the biggest moment of your life. The more you prepare the better off you’ll be. And make sure you share this with other moms-to-be out there so they can start taking steps to prepare as well. You can also check out my Facebook page for more info and insights! Best of Luck!