Is Natural Childbirth For Me?
If you are considering a natural birth, good for you! I truly believe that anyone can have a natural birth. After all, every birth was “natural” at one time and not labeled as such. Women have been doing it that way for thousands of years. I don’t say that to knock some of the amazing medical advancements we have today, but in a low-risk pregnancy there is no reason to NEED medical intervention or pain drugs with proper preparation and guidance.
If wanting a natural birth then be sure to do your research on finding a good midwife or birth center. They will be your best option for having the type of birth you dream of. Home birth is not legal in all US states or may not be an option for women with certain medical conditions. A birth center would also only be for low-risk pregnancies, but may offer some people a little more medical monitoring or comfort level than a midwife who oversees home births. The choice is really what you are most comfortable with.
If neither of those options appeals to you and you would rather have an Obstetrician/Licensed Physician overseeing your birth then you will be birthing at a hospital. Some midwives also have hospital privileges, but are usually part of an OB practice. This would also likely be the only option for women with preexisting conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. And unless you are lucky enough to find a practitioner who does VBAC, then a previous cesarean section may limit you as well. Many women who wish to birth naturally in the hospital are able to do so, however, I’ve noted that women who go in to labor saying they want to “try” to have a natural labor usually do not end up doing so because they were not fully committed to the idea and did not research to adequately prepare. Additionally a hospital birth may have added restrictions such as not being able to eat or drink and possibly continuous electronic fetal monitoring which does not allow you to move around the room.
My husband and I agreed a birth center would be the best choice for us. In doing research, I found that having a support person will not only improve pain management but also shorten labor and increase breastfeeding support and bonding. We also wanted to be offered and coached in other methods of pain management besides using drugs and avoid having to use synthetic hormones like pitocin. My husband has been very good about studying up on being a good support person during labor. Midwives, doulas and nurses can also make wonderful support people. A doula would be able to stay with you for the length of your labor, but a midwife or nurse may have other things they need to be doing in a non homebirth. If we were financially able to hire a doula at this time we would. I’ve never read of anyone who hired one that regretted it. But with my husband being so excited about studying to be a good support person and having the expertise of a midwife and nurse on hand at the birth center, we feel adequately prepared.
Ways To Prepare For Natural Birth
My husband and I both read Husband-Coached Childbirth (Fifth Edition): The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth and found it to be a very valuable resource. The Bradley Method is a very popular way that couples prepare for natural childbirth and you may like to find a Bradley Method Instructor to teach your birth class. My husband also found it empowering that he can have such an important and active role during labor, even if he is not physically doing any of the birthing.
Another very popular book is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Ina May Gaskin is a very well known midwife who writes about everything to do with natural childbirth and why it is the best option. She covers many important issues that come up during modern childbirth including induction methods, risks of anesthesia, cesarean sections, episiotomy, and how to best prepare yourselves for natural birth. It is a great resource overall.
Ask Your Health Care Provider Questions
I think the most important thing you can do during your pregnancy is educate yourself. Far too many people in general allow medical procedures to be performed or drugs to be given to them without questions as to why they are getting it or what the side effects will be. I am not at all mistrustful of physicians or hospitals, but I do want to know the why’s and how’s before I receive any type of medical treatment and how important it actually is. In that sense, be sure you are knowledgeable on the side effects and action of the common drugs and medications used during labor including pitocin, cervadil, epidurals, etc. You have every right to ask your health care professional about these and deserve an answer that you feel has actually answered your question.
Take A Birth Class
At least with people I know, about half of them do not take a birth class to prepare. Those women went in “trying” for a natural birth but ended up having drugs, ended up having a cesarean, or knew from the beginning they wanted pain management like an epidural. I know of only one person who had a hospital birth that wanted a natural birth and actually had one, but she did take a birth class at her hospital.
To me, childbirth is a natural process that I feel my body can handle. However, it is also a foreign process to me as a first-time mom and I want to know what is happening to my body and my baby throughout and what I can do to make everything go smoothly. My birth class covered all of that information: the stages of labor, pain management, what happens if labor doesn’t progress, emergency situations, etc. A great online resource has also been www.childbirthconnection.org, useful if you are interested in natural childbirth or not.
Support From Your Partner
Having your partner be 100% in support of your choice for natural childbirth is also very important. They will need to be there when labor is in full swing helping you with the techniques you have chosen to focus and relax and encourage you to keep going. Make sure you have discussed with each other what you would like to happen if certain situations arise. Most importantly, make sure your partner knows that if you get angry or frustrated, they need to keep encouraging you and being positive. The hard part will pass and your baby will come!