November 16, 2013

NaBloPoMo Day 16: 10 Tips for Having a Great Natural Birth

I taught class 3 in the Birth Boot Camp curriculum this morning, about choosing your birthplace and care providers.  I am so inspired by the curriculum and by my students.  I'm teaching a private class right now with just one couple, and since it's just them this week I went to their home for the first time to teach them in their own space.  It was so warm and comfortable, and they are delightful.  They're so interested in everything I have to say, and I can tell that I'm really making a difference for them.  I've only known them 3 weeks and I'm already convinced their birth is going to be amazing.

 Since I was feeling so inspired by birth today, I figured that I would post something birthy here since I don't do it all that often.  I would like to have that crossover more often since I'm so passionate about it and it's a big part of my life.  This was originally published on my blog over at Ready, Set, Birth.  Enjoy!

10 Tips for Having a Great Natural Birth

There are so many things you can do to prepare yourself for your birth.  Here are 10 tips that will get you on the right path to having a great, natural birth!

#1: Consider a doula!  Research shows that a doula’s presence at a birth tends to result in shorter labors, fewer complications, more positive feelings about the experience in general, and reduced need for pitocin, forceps, and c-sections.  If you’re aiming for a natural birth, having a doula by your side for labor support can be an amazing tool.

#2: Trust your intuition.  There is a difference between fear and the sense that something is wrong or unusual or needs to be checked out.  My number one advice to new moms is to trust themselves – mother’s intuition is not an urban myth, and it starts when your baby is still in your belly.  Our inner voice is there for a reason, and if you’ve banished fear from your birthing process, you’ll be able to trust yours.

#3: Banish fear.  If you have fears about birth, take the time to sit down and journal, check out a book about working through fears, or talk to someone – a care provider, a friend, your birth teacher, or even a counselor.  The best way to go into birth is anxiety free and in a state where you are making decisions based on what you want an don the facts of your labor, NOT on fear of what might happen or lingering fears over what has happened in the past.

#4:  Take a childbirth class.  I recommend Birth Boot Camp (haha!), but in all seriousness, find the time to fit something in to your schedule, whether it’s my class or someone else’s.  The two hour class at the hospital with tour is not going to provide you with the information you need to trust yourself in birth and making any decisions that need to be made, the opportunity to practice the techniques you’re learning, and the chance to connect with other parents whose children will be the same age as yours.

#5: Don’t be afraid to switch providers. If your provider seemed supportive at first, but now is pushing for induction or scheduling or going back on his or her word, you don’t have to stay. If you get the feeling they are not supportive of your birth plan, you don’t have to stay. If they don’t treat you with respect, you SHOULDN’T stay.  I switched midwives at 30 weeks because I was just not clicking with the one I’d hired, and didn’t want someone at my birth who I wasn’t comfortable with.

#6: Relax! Spend time while you’re pregnant practicing relaxation and learn how to relax. This is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for a natural birth, which is one reason we practice this at almost every class in Birth Boot Camp. Learning how to breath deep and in your abdomen can make worlds of difference in letting your body birth your baby.

#7: Get rid of negative energy – if there are people around you who want to be present at your birth but are not providing positive energy, they need to hit the road.  It may sound callous to say that you should kick Grandma or your best bud out of the room, but the reality is that their nervous or unsupportive energy can affect your labor, and not in a positive way.  It can cause you to lose sight of what you’re doing and worry about someone else when all you should be thinking about is meeting your baby, or in the worst cases stall your labor because you’re not comfortable.

#8: Educate yourself about birth and what it is REALLY like.  Those birth scenes you see in the movies where the water breaks all over the floor in the grocery store, followed by immediate contractions that have a woman doubling over in pain and then screaming her way through delivery?  Not realistic!  Watching positive, peaceful, natural births not only instills confidence in your body and the process, but can give great examples of the kinds of breathing, toning, and sounds that can be helpful during a natural birth.
#9: Visualize and think positive. A lot of people feel silly at first doing visualization exercises  but guess what? No one thinks it’s silly when Olympic athletes visualize winning the gold, or football players visualize the play that will win them the Heisman Trophy. So WHY not visualize your birth the way you want it to be? Think about trusting your body and how you’ll bring your baby down.

#10: Make a birth plan!  A birth plan is not a guarantee.  It is good to have a flexible attitude about labor and birth because it’s impossible to know what mother nature holds in store for you.  I still recommend that everyone make a birth plan.  In the process of sitting down and writing down what you want and don’t want in your ideal situation, you learn what is important to you, where you are most flexible, and educate yourself about all the options.  This will allow for calm and educated decision making should things not go as planned during labor.

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