I am of course OBSESSED with natural birth. Everybody really should be, because it is so awesome. I am on the board of directors for an online birth education company and I teach classes and I blog about natural birth constantly. But I am just a mom who has had some awesome birth experiences. I was talking the other day to a doula friend of mine, Alexa Gumm, and asked her what SHE thought was most important for a mom planning a natural birth. I LOVED her list of tips and wanted to share them with you. (Of course, I couldn’t help but elaborate and add in my own opinion. That is what a writer does. The stuff in bold are Alexa’s gems.)
Positivity is #1
This is just so STINKING true. You have to believe that you can do this. Your partner has to believe that you can do this. Birth is normal. It is also JOYOUS. Find the joy and the magic in it- don’t just think about how hard or how painful it will be. I can guarantee that if you think it will be a negative experience it will probably end up that way. Birth isn’t always easy or pain free- but it is always an amazing, transformative, life changing event that should be cherished.
Ahh….this can be a tough one to swallow but it is so very true that we need to own our birth choices. I think that this is where the true empowerment comes for women at the time of birth. In fact, talking to women what makes them feel awful about their birth is not where it took place or even everything that happened but if they were the one MAKING CHOICES. It is a big responsibility to own your birth and your birth choices- but it is so very worth it because herein lies the power inherent in women.
KNOW why you are birthing naturally
So often the difference between a woman who goes “natural” and one who opts for drugs is simply KNOWING why you are birthing this way. Think about it from the standpoint of breastfeeding-
If you think breastfeeding is great and will give it a try but you don’t know anything about WHY you should or the benefits to you and the baby, it sure is a lot harder to stick with it when the going gets tough. The same is true with birth. Accomplishing a natural birth is going to be easier for those motivated by KNOWLEDGE of why they want to do this and HOW they can do it. That is why I am so devoted to the teaching of natural birth classes- education makes all the difference in outcome.
Hire a midwife
Ummm … YES, A MILLION TIMES OVER! Every time I go on about the midwifery model of care I hear from people about their AB FAB OB. Sure, there are great OB’s who trust birth and all that jazz. But let’s be real- they are trained surgeons. They have a place in birth- but probably not as much of a place as we give them sticking their noses in every single healthy birth out there.
Choose midwifery (carefully- they are not all created equally) and you up you chance of a natural birth.
This leads to her next tip-
Trust your birth team!
Holy cow, this is a biggie. In labor you desperately need the people around you to support your wishes if you are too busy laboring to actually VOCALIZE your desires! Too many women plan on birthing with people they DON’T TRUST, DON’T LIKE, AND DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE AROUND!!!!
That is, simply put, a mistake.
Fear the needle!
I loved this quote from my doula friend Alexa, “Truly a mom who fears epidural side effects more than her pain, has a much greater chance of going all natural. Those “I am going to try” moms make me nervous.”
Man, this is so true but so hard to say sometimes. I think we want to be flexible and open to change- you kind of have to be because birth is unpredictable. BUT- you also need to be committed. Committed to going natural, committed to staying low risk so you CAN go natural, and just committed to the long haul (birth isn’t always a cake walk).
I compare this to high school. (I know what you are thinking- what the heck does HIGH SCHOOL have to do with natural birth. Wait for it.) Let’s say you are in high school and you get a date with the hottest guy in school. Oh yes. Nice. If you go into it thinking- “I am going to TRY not to take my pants off because it is our first date and I am 16 and I don’t love him, BUT you never know what happens…”
How is this really going to play out?
Maybe he takes you to a rowdy party. You drink a little. You go park somewhere. You get the picture.
Having a “I am gonna try a natural birth” attitude with a cut happy OB and no knowledge of birth and an openness to the epidural, is like getting drunk with the hot guy in the back of his car when you have raging teenage hormones and expecting to stay fully clothed. It might not turn out how you planned.
I highly suggest researching the drugs commonly used for pain in labor and learning about their side effects. This is eye opening to say the least.
I know this sounds a little contradictory, especially after my “keep your pants zipped” high school analogy. Let me explain.
YES- we need to be stubborn and strong and even flexible. Birth can change and it is not often that every little thing goes just as we had in our head.
When we talk about surrender in birth, we mean surrendering to the process, to your bodies natural instincts, to the moment, and to the power of BIRTH. So many women are afraid of losing control that they hold in, tense up, and don’t just open up and LET GO. Surrender is a deeply important part of labor.
And…surrender is pretty handy when it comes to motherhood too. Birth is the greatest teacher, isn’t it?
And might I add another tip-
Hire a great doula!
Birth can be amazing- but unfortunately it isn’t for all women. These tips from an experienced birth worker can help you get the birth you want.
(You can find Alexa through her website, www.okcdoula.com and on here, as a birth teacher.)
About Sarah Clark
Sarah Clark is a mother of four naturally birthed babies, a wife, a birth instructor, and a board member for Birth Boot Camp, a natural birth company specializing in online and in person birth education.