Birth–no matter the method–takes a lot of preparation and planning. Not exactly in the literal sense (although that is important), but also in a very internal way. I learned this during my first pregnancy and birth experience. This is how I prepared for a natural birth.
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How I Prepared For A Natural Birth
First of all– natural birth? What exactly is that?
I firmly believe that the idea of a natural or traditional birth is extremely relative. Some people see natural birth as going without an Epidural. Some see it as having their baby outside of the hospital.
For me, it meant giving birth completely free of medications and interventions.
I made natural birth my goal before I ever got pregnant. This is crucial in my opinion. The preparation began long before those ten months of carrying a child.
I waged war against the strongest opposition of mamas-to-be: fear. I knew that in order to accomplish my goals, I was going to have to kill fear, and not just subdue it but slay that dragon entirely.
First, I prepared my mind. I prepared my body second, I prepared my birth team third. And, finally, I prepared my mind again.
It was important to discover what “natural birth” meant for me. I also needed to decide why. What was my motivation? This, too, is crucial.
It had to be influenced from the inside of me, outward. I didn’t want to feel others’ influences and give in. I felt like that would backfire in the end. The decision had to be mine and mine alone.
I decided that I wanted to experience childbirth as deeply and as acutely as I possibly could. I wanted to do this to understand how women have felt for centuries. Nowadays giving birth in a hospital is different than someone from hundreds of years ago, but the internal experience was what I was after.
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Too much reading worked against me. If I wanted to know a medical fact about my pregnancy or the baby I had an app for it and I had a doctor I loved that I could ask.
When I began reading about pregnancy I made an unpleasant discovery. Way too many pregnancy books have a negative tone that easily instills fear.
One of the books I chose to read from a natural standpoint was so obviously fear-based that I closed it immediately. Forget the books.
This was a path I was going to walk instinctively.
How I Prepared For A Natural Birth
Now it was time to prepare my body. I created a network of women around me who were positive-minded and had good things to say about childbirth.
They were all very clear that going into labor is just that–labor. It’s work. Pushing requires strength. Being sedentary would work against my goal. In order to prepare my body it was important to keep moving.
I did not go to the gym, nor was I a pretzel-like yoga enthusiast. I just stayed active–I walked, I moved, I stretched, I swam.
During my prep I also made an effort to eat the right things. No, I didn’t go crazy with it (my cravings were a constant battle that I didn’t always win), but I made a daily effort. I drank water and I just did my best.
As my due date drew near, I planned the atmosphere I felt would help me during labor at home, listing the necessary items that I wanted nearby: my birthing ball, essential oil diffuser, a playlist of soft music.
I wrote a labor plan separate from my birth plan, including the people I wanted around me and what I would like them to do.
Traded Research for Instinct
The next thing I did was rather unusual, but I believe made a huge difference.
I did not research a lot, but chose to lightly read up on a few things I wanted to know and then stopped there. I read more about packing for the hospital than I did for the actual labor, because I wanted my labor to be purely instinctive.
Honestly, I did not want to be influenced on how to give birth but instead to be confident that I could.
I prepared to labor at home. The hospital where I gave birth actually recommended staying home until I reached a certain point of labor to ensure a stress-free experience with less interventions.
I went even further with it and decided I would labor mostly at home. As it turns out I nearly delivered Kai in the car on the way (read more about it in my birth story).
More Mental Prep
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Finally, most importantly, I prepared my mind a final time.
I knew it was going to be painful. I allowed myself to accept that, and ingrained it in my mind that the pain was okay. Yeah, that’s weird, I know. But pain usually means “wound”.
In childbirth, pain means “normal”. When I really, truly accepted that fact, the fear of the pain dissipated. That was the key. That’s how I was able to work through it.
When the time came and I was laboring, I allowed myself to be in pain. I didn’t fight it. The pain became a positive (sounds crazy, but it’s possible).
When I say it became positive, I don’t mean that it felt good or that it went away, but it meant that it was now associated with something good–I would be holding my baby soon.
It took some serious mental conditioning to get to that place, and it started way back at the time I was looking at those happy double lines on the home pregnancy test.
With that being said, everyone has a different pain threshold. I had never given birth before, and I had also resolved that if I couldn’t handle the pain I was going to get the Epidural without beating myself up about it.
As it turned out, I didn’t get the Epidural or Pitocin. There wasn’t time. I labored at home, raced to the hospital and delivered my son in a matter of minutes. Seriously.
How I Prepared For A Natural Birth
There Are No Guarantees
I am absolutely not saying that if you follow these steps you’ll have a natural birth in sixteen minutes.
But what I am saying is that if you decide you want a natural birth, preparation needs to take place and it needs to start as early as possible.
The preparation is, in my opinion, almost completely mental.
Not everything is in our control and things happen. But we can do our best to work to our desired end, and, even if it doesn’t happen exactly as planned, we can be confident that we did our best.
That’s what being a mama is all about: doing your best.
Here are some ways you can prepare yourself to give birth your version of naturally:
- Come to a clear decision about what natural means to you.
- Decide just how “natural” you want to go.
- Prepare your mind in the very beginning for your exact birth goal.
- Physically prepare your body through diet, exercise and plenty of movement. That body will be doing a lot of work so take care of it and get it ready!
- Steer clear of any sort of influence that will negatively impact your goals. This might include certain books or websites, mentalities and even certain people.
- Plan your labor. Having a thought out labor plan (not necessarily a birth plan) will set the tone for your labor experience when those contractions start. Have your birth team ready and clear on what you want. This will boost confidence like crazy–for everyone.
- Hone your instincts and learn to trust them. You’re the mama, and you know your body and your baby better than anyone else.
Just know–you’re amazing, Mama. You’re incredible. You’re bringing life, and that’s the most important thing. Whatever you do, do it fearlessly.
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