A normal or natural birth means you go into labor from 37 weeks without any interventions and have a vaginal birth without medical assistance.
If you have a normal birth as a first-time mother and avoid the major surgery of a c-section, this will set you up well for having natural births for the rest of your childbearing days.
A straightforward vaginal birth makes for a faster recovery postnatally. The natural process is much nicer for baby’s birth.
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#1. Maximize the chances of a natural birth experience
Choose care providers who have the same philosophy as you do. If they have never experienced physiological birth, they certainly won’t be able to support you in having a natural birth experience.
In the hospital where most doctor and midwives do their training, birth is quite medicalized with lots of interventions. Because of the way doctors and midwives are trained, they learn to support medicalized birth and, unfortunately, rarely get to experience a natural birth.
This may give them the view that birth is an emergency or a medical event, then not having the skills to support natural birth.
Make sure they provide an all-risk model of care, waterbirth included. Arrange a consultation with a few different providers and see who you gel with.
The care provider you choose really makes a difference. Pregnancy, birth, and the transition to motherhood should be miraculous. If you don’t choose wisely, it could be life-changing in a way you didn’t want.
- Midwives Getting Better Results For Birthing Women
- Natural Birth | 10 Tips To Help You Succeed
- How To Bring On Labour Naturally – 11 Natural Methods.
#2. Birth planning for a vaginal birth
There is no time like the present to start thinking about what you would like for your pregnancy, labor, and birth journey.
If you have a positive result on your home pregnancy test then you’re ready to get started.
Most providers who facilitate normal birth (home birth, midwifery group practice, private midwives) are booked out early. This means it’s vital to get birth partners on board and start birth planning as soon as possible.
Most women see their health care providers to discuss the risks and the benefits of all possible decisions they might need to make for birth.
Being armed with information is a much better alternative than having the situation occur, especially during labor, and not knowing what’s happening.
- Caesarean Section or Vaginal Birth – What Difference Does It Make?
- Which Is More Painful | C-Section Or Natural Birth?
#3. Chiropractic care for pregnant women
Choosing a chiropractor who is qualified to look after pregnant women is a must. It’s important to ensure that your body is aligned and ready for birth.
If the pelvis is out of alignment, it is more likely that the baby’s head will malpresent, causing stalled labor.
The alignment and position of baby in the womb can determine whether the birth is smooth or rocky. Ideally, we would like baby to be in a head-down position on the left side; this is optimal fetal positioning.
Having your pelvic muscles and tendons as relaxed as possible makes for an easier descent through the birth canal. The chiropractor can help with this and is highly recommended.
You might like to read more about Optimal Fetal Positioning – How To Make Birth Easier.
#4. Waterbirth for unmedicated childbirth
Discuss this in your birth plan. If it’s at all possible, having a waterbirth is always a fantastic option for women and babies.
The water really helps women cope with the intense pain of surging contractions, and they are less likely to require drugs.
The water has buoyancy and helps to take the pressure and weight of the baby. Most women love the water for labor and birth as it feels like a ‘nest’ and gives them freedom of movement.
#5. Minimize the risk of vaginal tear during birth
When discussing birth, most women express the fear of vaginal tearing. The perineum between the bottom of the vagina and the anus is made to stretch to accommodate the birth of your baby.
Research shows perineal massage during pregnancy is very effective in reducing perineal tearing.
Warm compresses on the perineal area at the time of birth will help with the amount of stretch required as the baby’s head moves through the vagina. The perineal tissues are designed to stretch but the warmth will ease the sensation as this happens.
If possible, have a waterbirth. The warm water and the slow progression of the baby’s head without any coached pushing will help keep your perineum intact.
#6. Hypnotherapy for natural childbirth
Hypnotherapy or hypnobirthing method used in labor and birth that teaches relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques.
This technique helps to reduce anxiety and prepares you mentally, spiritually, and physically for the pain of labor and birth.
Hypnotherapy plus waterbirth equals winning. Hypnotherapy breathing exercises, when taught by a qualified instructor, have amazing benefits during labor and birth.
The deep breathing techniques of hypnotherapy help with pain relief and acceptance of the labor and birth process. Having witnessed these relaxation techniques in labor and birth myself many times, I’m a believer.
You can read more about how hypnotherapy can help you in Tokophobia – Coping With An Intense Fear Of Childbirth.
#7. Leave the umbilical cord intact
There are many benefits for the mother in keeping the cord intact. These include:
- Bonding time for the mother and baby
- Early skin to skin without separation
- Hormone release of oxytocin to facilitate the natural release of the placenta.
There are also benefits for the baby:
- Keeping the umbilical cord intact until the placenta comes away gives all of the baby’s blood supply back to him
- Cutting too early means the baby is denied all the goodies that the umbilical cord supplies
- If you want to collect stem cells be mindful that these were meant to go to baby too.
- Delayed Cord Clamping – Why You Should Demand It
- Delaying Cord Clamping May Offer Years Of Benefits, Study Finds.
#8. Keep an eye on excess weight gain
Carrying extra weight in pregnancy can be a drag on your energy supplies, which are already being used to grow a baby.
Maintaining a healthy pregnancy can lead to a smoother birth and a healthy baby and reduce the risk of any complications, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
Avoid excessive weight gain in pregnancy by eating a healthy diet and doing physical activity. Choose gentle exercises, especially in the third trimester. This will help you stay upright in an active labor without becoming exhausted.
- Why Am I Gaining Weight So Fast During Pregnancy?
- What Foods Can You Eat During Pregnancy?
- 5 Yummy, Healthy Foods Every Pregnant Woman Needs To Eat.
# 9. Wait for the amniotic sac to break on its own
Historically, doctors have tended to break the waters and then had to deal with the complications of interfering with the natural course of labor.
The possible risks of rupturing membranes too early are infection, cord prolapse, and an increased chance of vaginal tearing.
The membranes coming out first, before the head, can assist with the stretching of the perineum, to minimize tearing.
Breaking the waters too early might also cause baby to get stuck in the wrong position in the womb, causing problems at the time of birth.
#10. Discuss any concerns with your health care provider
Stress and worry are never good for you or for your baby. If you have any concerns, contact your care provider to have a chat and to clarify and manage stress.
Often fear, financial problems, or a family tragedy will play on your mind at this important time in your life. Discuss your concerns and ask for help if they are becoming stressful for you.
A little anxiety in pregnancy is normal; this is a big event in your life. A little anxiety will not affect your baby; high levels of ongoing chronic stress, however, can affect your baby’s fetal development.
You are more likely to go into preterm labor and suffer from illness in pregnancy if you are highly stressed.
Birth is all about hormones. Having worries at the time of the birth can negatively affect your labor, as it causes you produce more adrenaline than oxytocin, and can stall labor. We know where the baby comes out, but birth is also about what’s in your head and how you perceive it.
Being emotionally and physically fit means giving yourself the best shot at the childbirth experience you want.
- Pregnant and Feeling Depressed or Anxious? This Can Help
- Stress During Pregnancy | How Does Stress Affect Pregnancy?
#11. Understand medical pain relief
Pain medication in labor might be required, even by some healthy women. Most of the time, this is a result of having medical intervention, when labor is not occurring naturally.
Understanding the indications and implications of medical pain relief will help you have a natural birth. This is because you are fully informed in the antenatal phase, which has given you the information you need to make the decision to birth naturally and avoid drugs.
Any medication you have while pregnant and in labor will pass through the placenta to the baby. If you require narcotics or epidurals, then you must weigh up the risks and the benefits.
Babies will often need some assistance with breathing at the time of the birth, if they have been affected by the pain medication. A baby might show signs of fetal distress or the medical pain relief can cause labor to slow down.
Speak with your care provider and attend birth preparation classes or childbirth classes if you will be in hospital. There will be opportunities to discuss the options for pain relief.
- Epidural. If it works effectively, it will block the pain in your abdomen and you will not feel labor; you will be numb for quite a few hours afterward. It will also drop your blood pressure. You will need an intravenous cannula, and an indwelling catheter. This poses huge risks as the plastic cannula for epidural goes into the spine. Baby will need help breathing at birth
- Narcotics. Morphine or pethidine might slow the labor down or stop it altogether. The mother often will vomit or have nausea. Baby will need help to breathe at the birth
- Nitrous Oxide/Oxygen. This is sometimes called laughing gas. It wears off quickly and has minimal effects on the mother and baby. Some women might feel nauseous or lightheaded.
- Convinced You Want Drugs in Labour?
- Where Does An Epidural Go? Understanding Epidurals Part 1
- Epidural During Labour – Everything You Need To Know
- Pain Medication During Pregnancy – What Can You Take?
#12. Minimize medical intervention
Once medical intervention begins, ultimately it rolls on and is hard to stop. This is called the cascade of intervention.
An example is the artificial rupture of membranes (ARM). Once this occurs you are on a timeline to birth and might require antibiotics, which will go through to your baby.
Ask questions and get all the relevant facts before any intervention in your pregnancy. You’re entitled to have all the information, including risks and benefits, of any suggested intervention, so that you can make an informed decision.
You might like to read When Doctors Don’t Listen: Informed Consent and Birth.
#13. Belly mapping baby: know your baby’s position
Belly mapping means looking at the indicators on your belly to find out the position of your baby. This is important to know, as baby might be in a breech position instead of a head-down position.
Having the baby in a great position can result in a smoother labor and birth. For a first-time mother, having the head well-engaged means the baby’s head presses on the cervix in labor and the cervix dilates.
- Belly Mapping – How to tell baby’s position in the womb
- Optimal Fetal Positioning – How To Make Birth Easier.
#14. Pregnant women clear the house
Clearing the house is not just nesting and tidying everything up. Clearing the house refers to any outstanding worries that you have as you come closer to the time to give birth.
Being prepared means you can relax, knowing everything is ready to go when your little one decides to arrive.
For some women, this might include:
- Sorting out some support for you and the kids postnatally
- Family prepping meals
- Completing birth classes
- Seeing a lactation consultant
- Consulting the chiropractor
- Organizing maternity and paternity leave.
#15. Believe in yourself; you can do it
This is probably the most important tip. Ignore the nay-sayers who tell you that you can’t birth in the way you want.
It is up to you to have the birth that you believe is best for you, using all the information that you have gathered from the moment you found out you were pregnant.
If others don’t agree with your choices, tough bikkies! It’s your body and your baby. It might be best not to discuss your pregnancy or birth with these people.
Trust in yourself and the care team you have. Believe they have your back for physical and emotional support. Have faith in the natural birth process.
Innately, you have a gut instinct and this is especially true when you become a mother. Listen to your gut; if something feels wrong then it probably is.
#16. Decline vaginal examinations unless vital
Experienced midwives very rarely need to do a vaginal examination to know what is going on with the women in labor.
This is mainly because they have a strong faith in the natural labor process and have witnessed many women giving birth.
There are many signs that show the progress of labor on a woman’s body. If your midwife is in tune with this she will notice these signs.
Vaginal exams are routinely performed in hospitals for the care providers’ convenience, so they know where you are in labor and whether or not a medical intervention needs to happen.
Weigh up the risks and benefits when deciding on a vaginal exam.
#17. Women-centered language for pregnant women
It is important that you request that everyone involved in your care speak to you in woman-centered language.
This means keeping the language positive, even in a negative situation.
For example: you require induction of labor, which doesn’t progress for many reasons. In the hospital system, this is called a failed induction. The word failed is negative and infers your body didn’t work. The language in this scenario can make the women feel like a failure when she is not. These words can adversely affect your labor and birth.
Alternatively, using positive language, the wording used could be: ‘Your induction is not progressing; we need to look at other options’.
Another examples the term vaginal delivery. We know a baby comes out of the vagina; however, pizza is ‘delivered’ but a baby is ‘birthed’.
Women-centered language should be used at all times for pregnant women.