This is a blog post I’ve wanted to write for a long time! And I’m finally sitting down to do it. Piper’s birth was one of the hardest, but best days of my life. It was truly a life changing experience, and I am so excited and feel so lucky to get to go through the process again. We opted for a natural birth, meaning no epidural or interventions (unless medically necessary), and had the most wonderful experience. This method is not for everyone, and I know many people have zero interest in this type of delivery. But if you’ve been toying with the idea or are interested in a natural birth, then keep reading!
#1 – Educate yourself.
When I was pregnant with Piper we took a Bradley Method birthing class. Learning about how the body is capable of natural birth, and all the different mechanisms that help make it possible was fascinating to me. Without this knowledge, I probably would have lost some fight and would not have been able to do it. We also learned natural pain managing techniques, laboring positions, and how to write a birthing plan which all helped to prepare us. It was also a great way for Scofield to understand and learn about labor and delivery, and make sure we were on the same page.
#2 – Know why you’re doing it.
There will always be people who have an opinion about how to plan to birth your baby, and people who think their way is best. The most important thing is to know why are you are choosing a natural birth and to stay confident in those reasons.
#3 – Have a support system.
For some people it may be a spouse, a doula, or a family member. We didn’t have a doula with Piper, but Scofield served as my main support person. He supported me through the pregnancy as we planned and prepared for labor and delivery, and he supported me through the whole delivery process. He played music, massaged me, held my hand, and encouraged me. I couldn’t have done it without him.
#4 – Hire a doula.
We didn’t hire a doula with Piper, but they are a huge asset to a natural delivery birthing team. They can help with pain management through massage and counter pressure, allow your husband to rest if delivery is long, help you with positioning in ways that moves the baby down, and help you know when to go to the hospital. It’s certainly possible to have a natural birth without a doula, but it’s definitely helpful. Because we gave birth at a hospital, we had nurses present during the delivery and they were very supportive and helpful as well. If you live in upstate South Carolina, here is a list of doulas in the area.
#5 – Be physically prepared.
Birth is a physically draining process. Maybe one of the hardest things you will ever do physically. I wouldn’t go into a half or full marathon without training for it, just like I don’t think you should go into having a baby without training. To do this, I highly recommend being active through your pregnancy. After about 20 weeks running gets very difficult for me, so I stick to power walking, a stationary bike, yoga, or elliptical, along with lunges and squats. Our birthing coach told us, if you do 300 squats/day, that baby will come quickly. I don’t hit the 300 number every day, but I I try to incorporate as many as I can.
#6 – Drink raspberry leaf tea in your third trimester.
Now, is this scientically proven to help speed up delivery? I don’t think so. But do I think it helped move me into labor naturally and effectively? I do. I drank this tea during the third trimester, which is suppose to tone your uterine wall and prepare your body for labor.
7 | Use natural pain management during labor. For me, this was counter pressure and a hot bath. I spent the majority of my labor in the hot tub, with the water running. The sound of the water was soothing to me and the heat helped me to manage the pain. Other people have recommend bouncing on an exercise ball or a hot shower for a similar effect.
#8 – Labor at home as long as you can.
Most hospitals won’t even admit you until you are 3-4 cm dilated. We opted to labor at home as long as we could, to prevent getting an epidural. There are of course risks to this, and I recommend doing this at your discretion and always listening to medical professionals. When we got to the hospital with Piper, I labored for 3 hours before she was born. If we had been there the full duration of labor, I might have asked for an epidural or been pressured into getting one.
#9 – Eat and drink before you get to the hospital.
Once you are admitted, most hospitals will not let you eat or drink anything. This was so frustrating to me because I was SO thirsty the whole time and just wanted a sip of water. You will need strength and energy, so hydrate and eat before you leave the house. Plus, I’ve been told that if you still have an appetite you aren’t in active labor yet. Once it’s time to go to the hospital you probably won’t want to eat, so make sure to get some nutrition in your body before you get to that point.
#10 – Set the environment.
I am such a sucker for a calming, romantic setting, but I highly recommend this. We had the nurses dim the lights, and we played soft worship music the whole time I was laboring. Having a calming environment helped to keep me calm and focused during labor. Some people might like to bring calming essential oils to diffuse, or run a hot bath like we did.
#11 – Stay calm and confident.
You can do this! One thing to remember is that this is a normal, natural process that has been done for thousands of years. Your body was made for this, and the pain you feel is nothing to be afraid of. The discomfort does not mean that something is wrong, but it actually means that something is right! Trust your body, don’t fight against it.
And of course, please know to always listen to medical professionals around you first. These are tips that worked for me, but I would have listened to the doctors if they felt something needed to look different for the safety of me and my baby.
Having a natural delivery was the hardest thing I have ever done, yet somehow it was the best day of my entire life and I can’t wait to do it again. To me, that’s saying something…
No matter what kind of delivery you have, you go in one person, and emerge a warrior…a new woman … a mother… on the other side.
Read Piper’s birth story here