Childbirth is an experience that many women wish to undergo without medication and chemical interference. This desire is not without good reason. Much research proves that all the medications offered for labor and delivery interfere with both mom and babies brain chemistry thus creating unnecessary stress that can take away the feelings of joy and accomplishment that accompany natural childbirth. Some research coming out of pre and perinatal psychology is pointing to how chemicals used during birth can indicate drug addiction later on in adult life. Chemical births can make labor and delivery more painful (for both mom and babies) and longer recovery time.
Certainly, there are conditions that can develop during pregnancy that could indicate needing a medical intervention. However, if your pregnancy has been free of complications, here are some keys that I have found that can help you to preparing for natural childbirth:
1.) Stay active and become fit throughout your pregnancy. Labor and delivery is very similar to running a marathon. Any kind of physical activity that helps you to increase endurance can be very helpful to you when the day comes that you labor, especially for first time mothers. Second time mothers often times have a better idea of what to expect and have a better time preparing themselves for the rigors of birth. As a general rule you, would want to exercise more gently during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (meaning stay regular but do not push beyond your edge). During the 2nd and 3rd trimester you can begin to experiment with more vigorous exercise (cardio and weight bearing exercises like weight lifting) that will help you to build endurance. Yoga is great preparation for birth, because it teaches you to hold a posture strongly for a few minutes than rest (which is similar to the pattern of contractions (1 minute = a contraction then a rest).The last month of pregnancy I would recommend laying off any exercise that firms the pelvic floor and instead do self perineum massage. In fact, I would recommend backing off endurance building exercises (especially if you have worked on your fitness up to that point) 2 weeks before your due date and doing gentler quieting exercised that will help soften and restore you like restorative yoga. Walking is always very good to do from the very beginning of pregnancy up to the day you labor. I recommend at least 45 minutes of walking a day. The 2 weeks should be a time of resting physically for the major event of labor. Always, consult your caregiver on any questions you may have about building an exercise program as a way to prepare for birth.
2.) Preparation for natural childbirth will be your greatest aid in succeeding. Educating yourself and communicating your needs and preferences to your birth attendants will help guarantee you the best chance of having a natural delivery. Reading books and attending natural birth preparation classes can be very helpful.
3.) When labor comes, stay at home for as long as possible! The rule of thumb is, if you want a natural child birthing experience, stay away from the hospital for as long as you can. Getting a doula to come sit by your side to watch for various signs of danger and help to gage when you’re close can be very helpful while offering re-assurance for families who want to labor at home for as long as possible. Even some of the best and natural birth orientated hospitals have a tendency to want to help by offering pain medications and chemical assistance to get you through. There is something about the atmosphere of being in a hospital that can make a woman more nervous and uncertain about her abilities, which can make contractions more intense. A laboring mother is always most comfortable in her home environment. So try to stay home until you suspect you are close to pushing.
4.) Seek out the assistance of a natural child birthing expert (like a doula or midwife) to assist you during labor. Having continuous physical and emotional support can greatly influence your birthing experience and create a sense of emotional safety for the laboring mother.
Birth can be full of surprises. But no matter what kind of birth you have, in the end, having a professional birth companion can help moms and babies stay resourced and reduce overwhelm J