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Readers Respond: Best Advice for Going Natural

Responses: 35

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Updated May 03, 2009

Natural childbirth is not for everyone, but for those women who want to have their baby with an epidural or other powerful medication, there is a lot of things they can do prepare for labor and delivery to make labor faster and easier. So what recommendations do you have? Do you have a specific childbirth class or book to recommend? Do you advise a birth plan or certain exercises? Is a doula helpful? What advice would you give a partner or friend supporting a woman going natural?

Yoga, Hypnosis, and The Tub

I tried for a natural hospital birth with my daughter, but got an epidural at 20 hours and napped for the final 6 before short pushing. Things that really helped me during the natural portion of my labor: The tub! Practicing yoga through my pregnancy really prepared me to view contractions as challenges, and things like shaking and vomiting as distractions. Labor is yoga, and contractions are just really challenging poses. I saw a hypnotist a few months before my birth, and listened to his ten minute relaxation cd often. It REALLY helped to set me at ease about childbirth and take away my fear, and when the nurse put on that cd during my labor, my shaking and moaning dropped out completely for the duration of that 10 min. Unfortunately, other things about the hospital had a negative impact on me. The constant monitoring was so distracting because lying down felt awful. Just being in a hosptial made me nervous which intensified the pain. This time, I'm trying at a birth center.
—Guest KateC

Listen to your Body

Having a natural birth can be so freeing and peaceful. My first a hospital birth, I played by there rules. My first home birth with a midwife was relaxing and non-stressful. Yes I had concerns but my midwife reassured me through each one. Personal preference differs for each mother. I enjoy the familiar comfortable surroundings of my home. I don't have to go anywhere for days which assists in healing. Your home your germs. My nesting period finds me preparing my birth kit. Using a midwife is preferable if it is your first or second birth. Just so you can understand how your body handles the birthing process. My 6th was unassisted but not by choice, the baby arrived quicker than the midwife. I knew I could do unassisted births. My 7th was totally unassisted with the exception to my husband. A wonderful experience and knowing what your body is capable of helps greatly. Work with your body not against it. Push only when you have the urge. Relax and play by your rules. Enjoy your labor.
—Guest Momma of 7

Unassisted childbirth- another option

I am so excited about all of the many natural birthing options for women these days. Unassisted childbirth is an option I am currently researching and have to say I am quite intrigued. Laura Kaplan Shanley, author of "Unassisted Childbirth," discusses the benefits of this method and why she chose this method to deliver 4 of her own children. http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com
—beckyhirst

Its not as bad as people say

I am waiting for my fourth birth. I have birthed my first three naturally, except the third was induced as my water broke with meconium, so i was induced. She was a shoulder dystocia and i breathed her out with the guiding hands of my midwife and the suction of an obgyn working as a team. This time i have diabetes and am taking insulin and am expecting a very large baby. My dr. Is supportive of my natural childbirth preference and has explained to me that if my giant baby is another shoulder dystocia delivering on all fours is his first and favourite option. With all of my pregnancies people have shook their heads at me, and some have eveb asked why i dont treat myself to an epidural. The truth about the pain is it is intense and can be consuming or you can look at it as a gift of measure knowing with each breath and contraction your baby is closer to being in your arms. The pain is healthy and normal and a gift women have experienced for thousands of years. Its all perspective : )
—Guest Momof4girls

Natural Hospital Birth

I read Natural Hospital Birth and it was amazing. Such a thorough guide to having the kind of birth that I wanted. I felt empowered and safe, which was important. I learned to know everything there is about birth and c-sections and this made me feel less confused in the hospital and more secure in my decisions. Hiring a doula is such a wonderful thing as well. Someone who can help you voice what you want and speak up for you when you are weak or in pain.. Anyhow, i wrote a detailed review at Amazon. I hope it helps you as much as it did for me.
—Guest Katrah

Have grace with yourself

I have had 2 wonderful completely natural, drug-free/intervention free births and two births with an epidural. I planned on all four being natural, but 2 of those were difficult births. Long (32 and 24 hrs.) and both involved back labor. I'm currently pregnant with my 5th child. My advice, plan for what you want, ie. natural birth but allow yourself the grace to go with what the labor brings. My longest hardest labor, 32 hrs., I went 25 of those hrs. with no pain relief, while experiencing hard back labor. I got to the point that I was utterly exhausted and need of rest. So I opted for pain medication to facilitate that. My easier births, both in pain level and duration I was able to go completely natural. I'm just saying each labor is different, have a plan, but be willing to improvise if needed. Either way, what is ultimately important is a healthy baby in your arms. If you can be super woman great, if not forgive yourself.
—Guest Mama # 5

HypnoBirthing

Look into a hypnobirthing class. This method, similar to the Bradley Method, teaches you to let go of fear, empowers you, and prepares you mentally and physically for a natural birth. Believe in yourself. You are strong.
—Guest H.O.B.

Different Labor Experience

During labor I expected to be in the tub, receive massages from my husband, walk around, and labor on the birth ball. Instead I ended up laying on the hospital bed in the fetal position. I needed the room dark and no one could talk to me because I needed to concentrate. It was not what I expected! Not to scare anyone but it was intense—it felt like the worst hangover of my life with someone punching me in the stomach. I tried to get inside the pain and acknowledge it rather than trying to ignore it. Also, I was lucky in that I went into labor being well rested. I recommend “Birthing From Within,” minus the weird art projects. I was able to switch positions while pushing and I did not need stitches in the end. My baby girl had high Apgar scores and is healthy! I wouldn’t recommend announcing to everyone that you intend to have a natural childbirth because I think a lot of people want to see you fail. Good luck, you can do it and it will make you feel empowered!
—Guest Anne

let it go...

Don't think of them as "contractions" - contractions imply pain, and hurt. try to think of them as very intense feelings, or 'rush' (as suggested by Ina May Gaskin). And you've probalby heard this before - but relax when you are having a 'rush'. This may sound like an oxy-moron, but if you tense up through a rush it will hurt. If you relax your body and let the feeling come then go, it makes the whole thing much easier. Remember, this is your body's way of preparing to help you have your baby. I've had 3 baby's naturally and am 7 months pregnant with my fourth. All have been wonderfull experiences with midwives, and after each birth, I've felt like I was so powerful as a women and could do anything! I've also found that a warm cloth against my bottom between rushes felt very good and helped alot (the midwife held it there). Also, start now to believe that you can do this - being mentally prepared is a big help.
—Guest momma of 3 1/2

Be Prepared

I was fortunately able to have both of my children 100% natural with a third one coming in 4 months. I can definitely say you need mental and physical preparation for yourself. Choose the person or people in the room with you well. Make sure they have the same goals in mind as you so there is no added pressure on you at the worst moments and make sure they are prepared as well. Practicing quite a bit with my husband and showing him what I needed was the only way I was able to do it with both. I never would have made it through without lots of massage and words of encouragement. He was awesome with both births and I enter this 3rd birth with no reservations at all because of him.
—Guest Shanna

Let go of all expectations

I did not plan anything out. We took no classes, no doula, no birth plan. All I knew is that I wanted to have my daughter without drugs, though I had no knowledge of the level of pain labor and birth would bring, therefore I told myself that I would see what I could do--no pressure. Throughout, I squatted in the bathtub and laid on my bed with my husband. I did not talk very much at all, which relieved pressure and helped me concentrate. I knew breathing deep was/is beneficial so I did that through contractions. When we reached the hospital, I was unable to communicate with anyone and did not try. I zoned everyone out visually and had my eyes closed through the majority of labor. I pushed for 25 minutes (which was easy for me with the "uncontrollable urge to push"). Overall, I couldn't have asked for more. From the moment I had her I knew I did the right thing. What a positive and loving experience to give yourself and your baby.
—Guest britain

Natural childbirth tip #1

Have your birth in the comfort of your home. I have had both hospital, and seen birth center, and there is no comparison to home. If you can find a good certified professional Midwife in your area, she is worth 10 doctors and nurses or more. She knows what's normal, and when to transfer to a hospital with usually an hour or more of warning. Those I know who had to transfer with a Midwife, still said that their births were far better than a hospital birth. So that's my advice, take it or leave it, but the statistics are very good as to the safety of it.
—Guest Angela

Educate yourselves

Those of us who choose unmedicated births are not doing so to be called a "martyr." We are doing so because we have extensively researched the pros and cons of the medications currently given in hospitals during labor. If you do your research, you will discover that these drugs are not safe (for mom or for baby). Look at the statistics of babies born by c-section. The majority of their mothers took some sort of drug (either to start labor or pain relief during labor). Those moms who are choosing to do it naturally (the way women have done it for years) are not having c-sections or the complications from them. Do your research, moms. It is more about doing something healthy for yourself and your baby, rather than just being a "martyr."
—Guest Sarah

Move around!

When I had my son I went through a lot of my labor at home and what helped me was walking around. By the time I got to the hospital my pain level was a 4-5 and I was dialated 7 cm. Alas, once I got to the hospital they made me stay in bed and my contractions stalled for another 12 hours. But I am CONVINCED I could have gone the distance if I'd had a home birth or if they would have let me move around the way my body needed to. As it is, I still had a beautiful and healthy son. Next time, though, I'm doing it MY way and having a home birth if there are no complications with the pregnancy!!
—Guest Taltexanna

Remove the myths

I found the key to my natural birth was in the prep. I found out ways of supporting myself - relaxation, visualisation, movement (Janet Balaskas is brilliant) and pain management techniques (there is a great chapter in "Birthing from Within" Pam England). Practice, practice, practice during pregnancy and by the time your labour starts you will be utterly confident that YES YOU CAN do it! Steer clear of negative birth stories - they are not yours! - and read books and talk to people who believe that natural birth is a wonderful experience and extremely rewarding. If you prepare well and use the skills then no matter what happens you will know you did the very best job you could for both the baby and yourself.
—Guest Maura
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