Birth is an amazing event. No matter how you give birth – medicated, unmedicated, or cesarean – it is beautiful and amazing and you should be proud of yourself. It is also important to remember that most births do not go as planned. I don’t think there is any harm in having an idea of how you would like your birth to go, but it is important to be open-minded. Chances are if you are reading this, you are interested in attempting a natural birth. Since I had a natural home birth (the home birth portion being an accident), I thought I would share my tips and tricks to help you have a natural unmedicated birth. You can also watch my video on Youtube.
I think the number one factor that plays a role in having a natural birth is mindset. How you view labour and birth will effect your experience.
Find the Right Healthcare Practitioner
I am biased towards midwives as healthcare providers in low risk pregnancies due to my amazing experience with them when I was pregnant with Camdyn. Midwives are overall more supportive of natural birth, less likely to intervene during delivery, and allow their patients more autonomy over their pregnancy. However, midwives are hard to get – as soon as you find out you are pregnant, you should put yourself on a waitlist. They also only deal with low risk pregnancies, so depending on your situation a midwife may not even be a possible option.
Just because you have an OB, does not mean that a natural birth is not possible. You just need to find the right one. You can do this by asking your general practitioner for a referral to an OB who has a reputation of being supportive of natural birth. If you have friends who had natural births, ask for the name of their OB. Some questions you can ask your OB when you meet them to determine if they are the right fit are:
- Do they support natural birth?
- Do they offer other pain management options besides the epidural?
- When do they normally induce if labour doesn’t start naturally? (there is no need to be induced on your due date unless baby’s health is at risk. Due dates are just guesses. Many women who have been induced cite those contractions as more painful and intense.)
- What are their unplanned cesarean rates? (Some – and I would like to emphasize SOME – OB’s are known for hurrying along labour and having women get cesarean’s when it’s not necessarily necessary.)
- How long would they allow a women to labour naturally before intervening? (assuming baby is doing well)
An issue with using an OB over a midwife is that they won’t necessarily be the one who is delivering your baby. So while your personal OB may support natural birth and support your desire to have one – that may not be the one you are dealing with on the day of. Which leads us to tip #2.
Find the Right Support Person
When most women hear the term “support person” they often automatically think of their spouse. But your spouse isn’t necessarily the best support person, because they need to be supported too during this time. I can just hear you saying “WHAT, but I’m the one giving birth?!” – but hear me out. It is often extremely difficult for our loved ones to see us in pain, that they may not be able to be there for you in the way that you need during labour. They also aren’t the best person to tell you no when you’re going through transition and yelling “I’ve changed my mind get me the epidural”. This is why I recommend hiring a doula.
While I did not hire a doula, I have heard nothing but positive experiences from women who have. They will do pretty much anything for you during labour – encourage you, massage you, rub you, get you ice chips. A doula will be able to help remind you of your goal – a natural birth. They will also be able to support you in the event that you decide to get an epidural or a cesarean.
In the event you cannot afford a doula, try finding another support person such as a friend or family member. You want someone who will be a calming presence during labour (and sometimes that is not our mother or sister). Try finding someone who shares your view on birth and has maybe experienced a natural birth themselves. You may have certain family members try and decide that they should be present during your child’s birth. It is your birth experience! Only allow people who will enhance that experience to be a part of it.
Educate Yourself on The Birth Process
I highly recommend every first time mom takes a childbirth education class, regardless of the type of birth they are having. If you are wanting an unmedicated birth, ask your healthcare practitioner for childbirth education classes that focus on natural birth. Specifically classes that will teach you and your partner techniques for coping with labour. I find that a lot of good childbirth education classes are ran by doulas!
A part of the childbirth education classes that is important, is understanding the stages of labour. The first stage is divided into 3 parts: early, active, and transition. Transition is the most intense part of the first stage, but it also tends to be the shortest. This really helped me during my labour.
Watch videos on natural birth. Some women may be freaked out by watching an actual natural birth (which is fine!) but even just watching other women tell their stories is extremely helpful. Some videos I recommend are:
- Adriana Leake (hospital birth)
- The Simple Love (home birth)
- Elanna Pecherle (hospital birth)
- Bridget Taylor (hospital birth)
If you’re not freaked out by birth – I also recommend checking out some of these beautiful birth phots.
Learn Coping Techniques for Labour Pains
Contractions are painful. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. But I also don’t think that they are nearly as bad as everyone told me they would be. In order to push through the pain, you need to have a number of different strategies that you can try during labour. Some of the strategies I recommend include:
- Breathing techniques
- Massage techniques
- Labouring on an excise ball
- Rocking back and forth/on all fours
- Labouring in the tub
- TENS machine
- Sterile water injections
Have a plan for which techniques you would like to try and in what order. Consider combining techniques. Personally – I rotated between labouring in the tub and rocking on an exercise ball while focusing on my breath. But I know women who swear by massage and others who loved using the TENS machine.
Labour at Home for As Long as Possible
Going to the hospital too early can often result in prematurely deciding to get an epidural. I know a number of women who said they ending up getting an epidural because they will told if they didn’t get one then, they might not be able to get one at all and they panicked. Labouring at home allows you to be comfortable in your own environment and create the atmosphere you want. This can help your labour progress faster. Some things you can do include:
- move around freely
- try different positions
- dimming the lights
- lighting candles
- watching a movie
- listening to music
- put up inspirational quotes/pictures
Recognize it’s OK to change your mind
If for whatever reason you decide you need an epidural – it’s OK. Give yourself a pat on the back for doing things naturally as long as you could. Natural birth doesn’t work for every women or for every birth. We cannot control how our labour progresses, and sometimes an epidural is just what you need. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad because you changed your mind.
This tip doesn’t directly relate to the childbirth process but it is one I swear by. Go for regular chiropractic adjustments during your pregnancy. These adjustments can help your baby get in position for birth (i.e. head down) and align your pelvis for a speedier birth process.
I hope you found these tips + tricks helpful! Did you have a natural birth? What were your coping mechanisms? Until next time, XX.