With the impending birth of our third child in a few very short weeks, I have been giving some thought to writing down some tips that helped me with the natural birth of our second child after having had a medicated one previously.
Natural birth. I know these can be scary words, especially the way that birth is perceived these days. But, birth is very much a natural process. It’s the inevitable ending to gestation, and it happens every day around the world (approximately 300,000 women worldwide). And largely without being medicated. Yet why are we so afraid of it? Why do we think our bodies are somehow not equipped to handle it? Aside from the really necessary interventions, we can handle it. Unmedicated. Seriously.
Now that I’ve experienced two births, one of which was medicated and one of which was not, I can confidently say that the latter was much more enjoyable and less fearful than the first. And in a funny way, less painful. I won’t go into details of why this and that but I will give you a “cheat sheet” (as if you can ever “cheat” birth!) on some things that helped me get through it the first time.
What I won’t talk about here is home birth. Though I wholeheartedly commend those women, and even celebrities, who do have home births, I can’t bring myself to do so. My personal reasons being:
- Most, if not all, midwives (and certainly the ones in my city) use a birthing tub. I despise, and by despise I really mean HATE, baths. It would defeat the purpose of my feeling comfortable, at ease and enjoying my birth experience.
- I may be a minority here, but I feel much safer giving birth in a hospital setting and not in my own home. I feel comfortable knowing that if something were to happen, no matter how miniscule a chance, I would give my child every chance I could to survive. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I don’t just accept anything a doctor or nurse tells me or scares me into (and some, unfortunately do try to use scare tactics). I research everything I can get my hands on (must be that “doctor” ingrained deep within me), am very adamant about my wishes (and demands) and will accept nothing less. Even when they say they couldn’t possibly do it (whatever “it” may be), we live in a free enough country that no one can make me do anything I don’t want to do. Even if it means I have to sign a bunch of paperwork in order to do so, I find that if there is a strong enough will, there will always be a way. (Of course, I am talking about in normal situations here, and not when there is actually a problem with me or my baby.)
- The one midwife that could reach me in time for my birth (I tend to have very quick labors), I didn’t really like.
So, aside from that particular “natural” aspect of birth, where do you begin?
- My first recommendation is to find a great doctor or midwife that you trust and feel comfortable with, and will work with you without judgment or the slightest hint of intimidation. Settle for nothing less, and move on to the next one if you have to (Not doing this was a regret I had the first time around).
- Next, find an outstanding doula. There are many types of doulas – from birth doulas to postpartum doulas; doulas that have highly developed medical skill (such as a nurse) and some that do not; some that lead or direct your labor and some that just reassure and follow your lead. The list can go on and on.
Naturally the type of doula is a personal preference, but I rather enjoy those grandmotherly types that know a few “old” tricks of the trade and have been around a long time. Since I am so strong willed, sometimes I need a “firmer” woman to help me see past myself to the bigger picture and the end result. My doula was perfect for me. She was exactly who I needed when I needed it, and I couldn’t have done it without her. (Well, technically, I could have, as I couldn’t really stop birth from happening, but you know what I mean.)
- Find a chiropractor with plenty of experience with pregnant women. Then go there often -weekly if possible. It can make all the difference in the world, whether or not you have back or hip problems.
- Get down to the basics of your pregnancy – stay hydrated, get good nutrition, exercise.
I have come up with a few documents from a few different resources to help you in the process:
(Disclaimer: These are just guidelines that you can feel free to use at your own discretion and risk, as I am not a qualified medical professional.)
- Finding a Doula
- Finding a Hospital or Birth Center (Even if you don’t have the choice of more than one hospital or birth center, it’s always good to know your options and their policies before the birth.)
- Questions for the Doctor or Mid-Wife
- Labor Coach’s “Cliff’s Notes”
- Pain techniques
- Sample Birth Plan
- Miscellaneous Tips and Answers