Even before becoming pregnant I had always thought that I would want a natural birth. (Well, as natural as possible birthing in a hospital). Now that we are inching towards baby’s due date and have taken two birthing classes, I feel prepared and empowered to plan on a natural birth, meaning no drugs or epidural. The unknown of what labor is really going to be like can be very overwhelming but preparing for what it could entail, arming myself with comfort techniques to handle the contractions and having an understanding of what could go wrong and alter the natural birth plan, will help me and Joe both have a successful birthing experience.
The hardest part for me is going to be letting go of any “plan” in the actual moment. Yes, I’m going to create a birth plan of my wishes for birth, but I know that things could change quickly. The birth plan for me is going to be more of a guideline for what I would like to happen, but is open to change based on what actually happens during labor. Maybe the pain will be too unbearable that I need something to take the edge off or I’m not progressing enough and an epidural is the best option in order to potentially avoid a c-section. And as much as I would prefer to avoid a c-section, if that ends up being the safest option for baby’s arrival, then I will accept it and not feel defeated because it didn’t follow the “plan”.
As I mentioned, arming myself with comfort techniques to handle the contractions is going to be key towards my path to a natural birth. Having Joe on board and knowledgeable will also be extremely important. We’ve taken a birthing through yoga class and another child preparation class that focused on different positions and techniques to manage the pain naturally.
My doctor is also a big proponent of laboring at home as long as possible to help speed up labor and make the experience more comfortable than being in the hospital the whole time. He is also very supportive of natural births which is awesome. The biggest thing I know Joe will be reminding me about the entire time is to RELAX. Our teacher made a good point and said that if you tense up every time a contraction is coming, you are truly fighting your body. It makes the contraction have to work harder and you end up needing more contractions because you are fighting the progress. Being able to surrender and relax through the pain is going to be hard but I know it will be worth it. Also easier said than done without ever actually feeling a contraction before!
Knowing that the pain has a purpose (getting to finally see and hold our baby boy for the first time) is something I will constantly be focusing on during the process. I also know that prayer for calm and peace will be a tool that I use as well. Our teacher made an awesome comparison of labor and delivery to Christ’s death on the cross. Just like Jesus, we know this is coming. We are preparing and planning for the day to arrive. We have to let go and allow it to happen without fighting it. The pain has a purpose, just like Christ’s pain did. I never would have thought to compare the two. Of course Christ’s pain and suffering could never really compare to anything we experience but having that in the back of my mind and knowing that He will be with me is a huge comfort.
To recap here are some things that I feel will be crucial to experiencing a natural birth (as long as there are no other complications of course):
- Laboring at home as long as possible (until contractions are 4 minutes apart, lasting about 1 minute each for a total of 1 hour or my water breaks)
- Constantly moving and changing positions (walking, birth ball, standing, sitting, leaning)
- Using Joe as support throughout (rubbing back, supporting my weight, words of encouragement)
- Visualization (peaceful imagery)
- Relaxing environment (lights low, positive music)
- Utilizing the shower and tub as often as needed
- Staying hydrated and energized (eating if possible to maintain strength)
- Not laying in the bed too long and considering alternate positions for delivery besides laying flat on my back in the bed
Mommas – how was your labor experience? Did you go into labor with one idea of how it should be only to have a completely different experience?