A lot of moms fantasize about having a natural birth, but depictions of childbirth in the media give women an unrealistic expectation of what to expect. They go in to the hospital or birthing center and try to do the things they have seen other women do, and are surprised when childbirth is a lot harder than they anticipated! A natural childbirth class or reading some natural childbirthing books is definitely a must do.
1. Stay Off Your Back – Depictions of childbirth in mainstream media typically show a laboring woman in a hospital on her back with her legs in stirrups. However, giving birth on your back is one of the most painful ways to labor! During contractions, your uterus pushes out to help the cervix open up, and the baby to travel towards the birth canal. If you are on you’re back, gravity pushes your uterus back in – making the contractions much more painful. Instead, try to labor kneeling, squatting, or lying on your side. These positions can help to work with your body. As for delivery, try the making a v shape with your body, or for the more adventurous, try squatting.
2. Have a Hands on Support Person – Whether it is the child’s father, a life partner, a parent or a doula, having a support person can make labor infinitely easier. Not only will they support your wishes, they can also help with comfort measures. Many mothers find having someone massage their lower back (I recommend a sock filled with tennis balls) can help during contractions, particularly back labor. A support person can bring water (ideally from a straw) to the mother to make sure she is hydrated (making a need for fluids less likely), fan the mother, or provide a place to lean on if walking during contractions.
3. Relax – Relaxing is a great way to ease child birth pain. I don’t necessarily mean just taking it easy, but rather relaxing every muscle in your body and releasing all thoughts. This is a great thing to practice before giving birth in the form of meditation. A good exercise before hand, is to work with your birth partner to identify tension areas. Tense up each individual muscle (don’t forget your neck and facial muscles!) and have them see what it feel like. This way they can identify it if you tense up during labor and remind you to relax.
4. Breathe Normally – The stereotypical hee-hee-hoo breathing is not normal! How many animals do you see trying to match their breathing to a weird pattern? Breathe naturally and don’t hold your breathe. Holding your breathe or hyperventilating increase tension which increase pain.
5. Be informed – Take a childbirth class. Read some books. Join a mommy facebook group. Take in as much knowledge as possible. Know the different stages of labor. This can help you identify where you are at – particularly transition, which is the hardest part of labor and when most mothers panic. If you are having a hospital birth, know when to go in. Spending as little time in the hospital as possible will decrease your chance of an unnecessary intervention. Knowing all the interventions is great too. Knowing what goes into a C-section if an emergency one is needed can help soothe fears. Remember, knowledge equals power, and fear equals pain!
A natural childbirth is possible. You just need to trust in the process and believe in yourself. It’s so worth it!
And if you end up needing an intervention? That’s okay too. Birth is beautiful in all forms.
Anything you would add?