I had no idea how to prepare for a natural childbirth. When I told my friends I was planning on having an unmedicated childbirth they thought I was crazy. Most had already had one or two children of their own and been through it all. After talking with many friends and family it appeared that very few had an unmedicated childbirth. So I didn’t have a lot of resources on how to prepare for a natural birth. Even though it seemed like a daunting task, I wanted to plan for it. For some reason it was something I was passionate about. perhaps it started from my fear of needles and a needle going into my spine really scared me. Lots of things scare me and my own worst fears usually prevent me from following through on my own goals. I wanted to put the work in and prepare. I hope this tips and tricks help you!
1. Surrender to the process
This was the best advise I was given throughout my pregnancy and labor and after. It was my mantra that carried me through anxiety attacks before appointments, when my blood pressure spiked and induction conversations started happening…..everything was out of my control except for my own state of mind and surrendering helped me greatly.
2. Birth Coach and Education
I opted for the doula route. Some of you may have doula’s available to you through your hospital at no charge. I did not have that option but luckily live in an area where there are Doula’s trained and available. I found Lenore,She was the one who taught me the mantra “surrender to the process”. She offered her own birthing class which we opted for since our hospital didn’t offer a birthing class focused on unmedicated options, etc. There are great online resources and books as well. Birthing from within was a great book which Lenore’s class was based off of. I listened to a lot of other popular audio books like HypnoBirthing but visualization exercises were hard for me.
3. Yoga and Breathing Exercises
This was by far the most beneficial and critical piece for success. Yes, of course exercise helps, but specifically breathing exercises. Prenatal yoga classes helped tremendously with this. I only did 1-2 yoga classes per week but I swear this was the key.
I am not just talking about the ice cubes you can crunch on during labor, but using Ice as a paint tolerance and mental exercise to prepare for labor. During our birth class we used ice in a very helpful and effective way. I would hold some ice for 10 seconds, not too bad. Then 30 seconds. Noted how my mind jumped around and what kind of thoughts popped into my head. Then held ice for 1 minute. You notice how you experience the pain and how your mind handles it. While holding the ice, was it more comforting for my partner to rub my back or did they just annoy me. Was it more helpful for them to give me words of encouragement? I had never done an exercise like this and felt it gave me a good indication of how to mentally deal with discomfort and understand how my partner could be more helpful to me during the times of greatest pain.
5. TENS Unit
This little device has massage and pain relief modes that can really help during intense contractions. The TENS unit can be a great tool to turn to when things get really rough. The pads were attached to my lower back and gave me some needed pain relief during contractions which I barely got a rest between. There was barely a minute between contractions for a good couple hours while laboring at the hospital before I was able to start pushing. It was exhausting and I swear I would pass out to sleep for a few seconds when I could.
I hope this was helpful and had some tips you haven’t read in the many articles already out there on this topic. You never know what to expect and things don’t always go according to plan. Unmedicated natural childbirth isn’t always going to be the best way. Remember to surrender to the process and if things don’t go according to your birth plan try not to stress too much over it. Stress does so much more harm than good to us both mentally and physically. You can find more on my articles about ways to deal with stress.