Child birth is known in many circles as the most horrendous thing a woman ever has to go through. But what if it doesn’t have to be horrid?
What if labor and birth could not only be tolerable, but actually be empowering and enjoyable? I don’t promise it won’t hurt (but then apparently it doesn’t always hurt either), but you can negotiate your way through in such a way that you look back on it content and proud.
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How you choose to have your baby is up to you – I’m not here to judge you on your choices, as long as they are just that – YOUR choices. Here are some natural delivery tips and steps to ensure you have the best birth you can have for this pregnancy.
How to Make your Birth Fantastic
1 Get in Charge of your labor
This is not the time to step aside and let someone else make the decisions. This includes your partner, parents and of course your birth care provider.
You will be asked to make all kinds of decisions that are outside your comfort zone and that you may feel completely unprepared or unqualified for. That’s okay. Put on your Game Face, because this is one of life’s all-time best learning and growing opportunities.
This is your show. It’s your body. It’s your baby. Labor is totally unpredictable, and each pregnancy will be different.This is all the more reason to prepare for it and embrace it, whatever it holds. You will never have another chance to give birth to this child, so make sure you are the ones making the choices.
Some good things to ask when things change and treatments are suggested:
- Is it urgent?
- What are the options?
- What would happen if we wait a little longer?
- Can we have some time to discuss it?
At the end of the day, no matter what your birth care provider says, it is in fact your body and you have the ultimate say. They may say we don’t “let” women try a natural birth after x number of Cesareans, but the truth is they cannot cut you without your permission!
2 Get a Great Education
There’s so much inaccurate, outdated information and so many negative messages out there, you kind of have to start by ignoring most of what you think you know.
In much of western society c-section rates are well above the World Health Organization’s recommended 1-10%, with some countries like Brazil having up to 90% c-section rates in some hospitals!
The question about the safety of Vaginal birth after Cesarean varies depending on your own circumstance, so have a good read of the I-Can website, it has lots of current up to date information. The latest studies also say that a c-section for a breech birth is no longer recommended and that (surprise, surprise) it is a variation of normal and should be treated as such.
• Read books like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, The Birth Book by Steve and Sarah Blight and websites like Birth Without Fear.
• Watch The Business of Being Born to have a view into modern birthing practices and what professionals are saying.
• Get in a good, reputable childbirth class, I recommend the online course from Hilary at Pulling Curls and the Hypnobabies course. This is an amazing process and the more you know, the less there is to fear. Knowledge is power.
3 Get a Great Vision of your ideal natural labor
Make a plan of what your ideal birth will be. Daydream about your perfect birth. Focus on it and let your mind dwell there. Often what you focus on is what will unfold, so focus on good things, and only read positive birth stories.
In saying that, don’t forget to choose the what-if options too, just in case, so whatever happens you feel in control of your decisions. Form this plan with your birth partner and discuss it at length with your care provider.
If your care provider is not supportive of your dream birth (and your dream is realistic for your situation) then it is never too late to change providers to one that is more suited to your cause.
As you read more and more around birth you will discover that evidence-based practice means things like:
- Freedom of movement
- Freedom to eat and drink as you like
- Intermittent monitoring your baby’s heart rate during labor
- One-to-one continuous support by someone who is educated in childbirth
- Water immersion for pain management
- Privacy so you can focus
- No vaginal exams during labor unless there is a specific reason for it or you want to know your dilation
- Freedom to push in whatever position feels comfortable to you.
It includes interventions when medically necessary and not before, and, if medical interventions are recommended, full and accurate information on their risks, benefits, and alternatives, and support of whatever decision you make.
It also means that labor and pushing go as long as you feel comfortable and you and baby are doing fine.
Unfortunately in many places routine hospital care usually includes:
- Being stuck on a bed with belts for continuous monitoring of your baby
- No food or drink allowed (just in case you need surgery)
- Lots of interruptions by people wanting to give you vaginal exams
- Constant pressure to “hurry things along” with medication or “give you a break” with an epidural
- Maybe a tub for water immersion, but you often can’t get in if you’re on monitoring belts, and many care givers will not support an actual water birth.
There is no judgment here, if you choose these things, more power to you. The thing is I want you to choose your birth with full understanding of the risks and benefits of all your choices, and for them to be just that – YOUR choices.
4 Get Great Support for your labor
Have a birth partner that is supportive and informed about your birth choices. This may be your partner, your mother, sister or friend. You may even choose to get a Doula.
Doulas are not yet very common in some parts of the world, but there are a few around. They are professional support people, trained to help you relax and can play advocate if required.
Their use is strongly supported by science, including new guidelines from ACOG that call Doulas “one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes.” (1)
Either way, when you get to the “I can’t do this any more, I want out” point of labor (and it’s almost guaranteed you will at some point, probably during transition) your support people are the ones who will pull you through. Their strength and encouragement help you believe that you can, and are, doing this.
RELATED POST: How to Have a Natural Hospital Birth (with less pain)
5 Get a Great Care Provider
Every Birth Care provider is different so you need to know their expectations and history. Your options include a midwife or obstetricians, especially if you have a complex pregnancy, medical history or difficult previous birth.
Don’t be shy about vetting your provider.
- What is his or her rate for Cesarean section?
- What about episiotomy and other common but usually unnecessary interventions?
- What is their view on intermittent monitoring or active movement.
This is your body we’re talking about. You have a right to know.
If you hear things like, “You’re not allowed” or “We can’t let you,” this is a significant red flag. If you are getting any of these “red flags” please, take your business elsewhere, to someone who will treat you like a competent adult.
6 Get a Great Location
If you’re a healthy, low-risk woman, your choices include home, a birth center or of course the hospital. No one place is better than the other, they all have risks and benefits, you must work out what is best for you, for this birth.
Home birth is an option that more and more women are taking advantage of, as they recognize the benefits of truly supportive one-to-one, individualized care and avoiding the routine risks of a hospital. Having had both hospital (2) and home births myself, both my husband and I would recommend home birth, hands down. It was fantastic!
7 Know Your Rights in Labor
Most women are totally unaware about what their rights are or why they’d ever need to know them. Pregnant women have the same rights as everyone else, but women are very often treated as if they’re in a special category because they’re pregnant.
Legally, you are entitled to informed consent and refusal: a full discussion with your care provider about the risks and potential benefits of anything they are suggesting, and about your alternatives, with the right to say “no” to anything.
8 Follow your Intuition
So many times I have heard stories of mamas making on the spot decisions based solely on a gut feeling, and it turning out that by doing so, they saved their babies life.
GO WITH YOUR GUT!
If it says ‘stay home today’, do it. If it says ‘go to the hospital’, do it immediately! If it says ‘this care giver isn’t right for us’, listen to it and change providers.
During birth move how you need to move, eat what you need to eat and go where you need to go. Trust yourself. Those instincts have served our ancestors for a very long time, trust them!
Your birth can be fantastic. Keep your expectations high and do the work to have those expectations met. Don’t let anybody convince you that you need to step aside for your baby. You need to step up for your baby. Trust yourself.