I posted on my snapchat (van_fernan) a few days ago that as I left my midwife appointment and enter my third trimester, my mind was filling with some of the activities and things I should start thinking through and doing to prepare myself for a wonderful natural birth.
I also did a live video on Facebook – so to make you even MORE sick of me, I’ve decided to blog as well! I am well aware that I could do EVERYTHING in the world and it would be no guarantee of a natural, peaceful and wonderful birth, but I’m one of those people who finds comfort in knowing that I did everything I COULD do to prepare myself for a natural birth, and if it doesn’t happen, then I can be ok with that.
So, the very first step I am taking to preparing for my natural birth is to choose a birthing location where I feel supported. I’ve had my last three with a mid-wife in a birthing center (Miami Maternity Center). When I first met my midwife I instantly connected with her and felt her warmth and belief in me. My midwife only delivers at the birthing center and even though I was kind of wanting a home birth, because of the strong connection I felt to HER I was willing to go wherever she was. I did interview with another midwife who did home births and just didn’t feel the same connection. I would highly suggest, if you are looking to go with a midwife to take time to get to know her, because your ability to TRUST your midwife and feel completely comfortable with her is important.
I don’t have any experience with hospital births, but if I would have had to give birth in a hospital I would absolutely hire a doula – no question. I would want someone who I could TRUST not only personally (because my husband and mother are two people I trust) but I trust when it comes to knowing the ins and outs of birth, what’s dangerous, what’s normal. The truth is most doctors have very little experience with un-medicated births and may not even know what’s normal and a doula will understand when everything is fine and when it’s not. Doulas also understand the laws and rules of the hospital, what I can and cannot refuse and will advise me to accept medical intervention if I need it.
The second step I am taking to prepare is by training myself to handle and endure labor pain. I figure if I’m going to refuse drugs, I better have natural ways to combat the pain! I knew if I didn’t have a natural alternative, I WOULD give in – guaranteed!! For me, I read Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way and it is incredibly helpful for me to visualize what was happening with each contraction and how I can help my body by relaxing through the pain (which is SO counter-intuitive to what I want to do!) or I could hinder my body by tensing up and resisting the pain. The book includes relaxation practices and visualization techniques that got me through my labor.
The third step I am taking is to prepare my baby to enter the world peacefully. I knew that failure to progress in labor can many times be from the baby not being in the proper position. If the head is stuck on a hip bone or not sitting properly, it will not open up the cervix like it should. Simple things like avoiding a sitting position where I am leaning back – like in a comfy couch – and leaning forward or sitting with a straight back instead can do wonders to helping the baby get in the best position for birth. Also, using a birthing ball, doing pelvic tilts, spending some times on my hands and knees and swimming can all help! (This is a great article to give more details on these exercises)
The fourth step I am taking is to prepare my body for birth. I am focusing on eating lots of protein to create a very strong amniotic sack that will not break easily. Why is this important? Well, labor is less painful when the amniotic sack is still in tact, the longer you can labor with your water unbroken the easier it will be to handle the pain – for my first two babies I never felt my water break because it happened after I was already in the water and pushing. I also drank Red Raspberry Leaf tea which strengthens your cervix and birthing muscles and prepares them for birth.
In addition to eating more protein, I am also trying (trying being the optimal word here) to avoid too many sugars and carbs. These “empty” calories can really fluff up the baby and knowing that I was already going to have large babies (my husband was a 10lb baby and I was over 8lbs) I knew that if I didn’t need to do anything that would make my babies any larger!
All of these things are simple, but every little thing contributes to the entire experience. From my experience, being in a place where I feel safe and believed in helps me relax, when I relax and put into practice the relaxation techniques I have worked on, my body opens up more quickly. When my sack is strong, the labor pains aren’t as painful and when the baby is in the proper position I have opened easily and naturally.
Now, don’t get me wrong, natural childbirth hurts like a $#!&* – but If you haven’t realized by now from my past blog posts, I like to choose my HARD. Giving birth in a hospital with drugs and intervention is no walk in the park either – I’d heard enough stories to know that an epidural doesn’t necessarily mean a “painless” birth!
I hope this blog has given you some ideas for ways you can prepare your body for labor – like I said, I am just entering my third trimester and just starting to really think through how I will prepare myself – I have been working out and eating a protein rich diet throughout this pregnancy and watching my posture since day one, but now it’s really time to kick it into high gear, practice relaxation, drink my tea and at the end of the day, trust God that He will be with me through every contraction, every push and every moment there after to be the strong,
healthy and present mom that I want to be.