Here's Part III of a four-part series of tools and tips from us, Thrive Birth Services of Delmarva, on achieving a positive birth experience--no matter what the type of birth! Don't forget to visit How to Have a Cesarean and How to Have an Induction! And keep your eyes out for the next in the series, How to Have an Epidural Birth.
There are some important things to know if you're planning a natural birth in this modern world of birthing. #1) Some (not all) people will think you're nuts. #2) They might tell you rude things like "Oh just WAIT until labor starts. You'll change your mind." #3) They are probably coming from a place of good intention, but the only person who has any say in this birth is YOU. The birthing woman. You have the right to block all of that noise. You have the right to shout it from the rooftops and you have the right to tell no one your plans and desires. #4) You need to be prepared. This isn't the old days where we birthed in a tent with our family and friends. This new world of birth is completely different! "Winging it" it not a realistic option if you want a birth without pain medications because when we don't know what to expect, we don't know what's normal. And when you don't know what's normal and what's not, it's easy to become fearful very quickly. You need to be prepared! And with that, here are our best tips for How to Have a Natural Birth!
1. Gather your team and choose the best birthing location for you.
Is your team a group practice of OBs and midwives? Is it a midwifery practice? A private OB? What are your options for birthing locations? On the Eastern Shore, we have a few, but they are spread out over the entire peninsula. PRMC in Salisbury, UMD Shore Regional Health in Easton, Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, DE, Special Beginnings Birth & Women's Center in Arnold, MD, Nanticoke Health Services in Seaford, DE, The Birth Center in Wilmington, DE, and home birth. Find the care provider who makes you feel most comfortable. Which care providers make you feel like you can relax and ask questions? What are the policies, procedures, and routines of the birthing location you're planning to go to?
2. Take a childbirth education class that is specific to your goals.
Childbirth is something that many, many women do, yet it's something that isn't seen anywhere except in the media. When all we know about childbirth is the short clip from "Knocked Up", it's a little challenging to relax into your contractions! Take the time and register for a class that will give you all of the information you need about what to expect through a natural childbirth, how to manage your labor, how your partner can best support you, and give you the time and space to ask questions and discuss the fears and concerns that are specific to you. If you're planning a birth in a hospital and choose an out-of-hospital birthing class, be sure that your facilitator can give you the information you need regarding your hospital's particular policies, procedures, and admission process. And if they can't, find that info elsewhere! If you're on the Eastern Shore and desire a natural birth, our one-day workshop How to Have a Natural Birth is perfect for you!
3. Read, read, read.
Whether you take a one day or 12-week childbirth education course, it's impossible to cover everything you could ever learn about childbirth! Surround yourself with positive birth stories. Read articles, blogs, and websites that share the information you need to learn about birth, pregnancy, parenting, interventions, etc. Our favorite websites are BellyBelly, Birth Without Fear, Indie Birth, Evidence Based Birth, and THRIVE's blog, of course! And our favorite books to read are in this blog.
4. Hire a doula!
A doula is trained specifically to be present during your pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum for physical, emotional, and informational support. Doulas are amazingly observant, compassionate, caring, and fun! If you want a natural birth, interview a doula, find a good fit, and then spend time getting to know them. They will be your best friend in pregnancy and labor! They know everything about labor and birth and are fantastic at making you feel comfortable, safe, and like you can do it! They will likely be the only expert on childbirth in the room who isn't a stranger AND the only one who is with you the whole time, instead of in and out. Your partner will benefit from knowing that everything is normal and how they can best support you, too! At THRIVE, we have the best doulas on Delmarva who have experience with hospital, home, and birth center natural births!
5. TRUST this process.
Sure, birth isn't perfect. Goodness knows it hardly ever goes "as planned". Being aware that your plan isn't necessarily how life goes is important. But it's also important to acknowledge that the majority of labors and births are normal and healthy. From my experience as a childbirth educator, doula, mother, and friend, the women who go into the experience with the thought that there was no other way except the way without pain medications are usually the ones who get the natural birth that they desire. Stick your mind to it and trust your body and the birth process. It was designed beautifully and it's POSSIBLE. I've never met a mother who regretted it ;-)