12 Natural Birth Tips
You’re here because of all the women that naturally birthed their babies.
With the exception of the last few generations, before Cesarean Sections were available, most women delivered their babies safely and naturally at home.
It has been in about the last 100 years that birth moved from home to hospital, where there was a shift in thinking about birth. Doctors were convinced that there was another way that women could birth that didn’t include pain. Our bodies are the same, but our births are becoming more and more medicalized and interfered with. Health professionals today are using Interventions more often than necessary. In-fact Cesarean sections are more common place, and here in BC our rates are hovering at about 30-33% give or take depending on the hospital, when the World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending only 10-15% Cesarean rates.
A Shift in Thinking
More women are choosing to have natural births. Why? There are a few reasons for this. We are choosing to trust our bodies, instincts, and babies. We know we have the tools within ourselves to birth our babies. We are choosing not to use medications because we know that some medications are passed to and can affect the baby.
We know that babies born naturally are more vigorous and alert; finding the breast and latching sooner than medicated babies. Women are learning that even the smallest amount of interference can trigger a negative change in their natural abilities to birth their babies. It is now known that epidurals introduce countless medications and opiates to baby, making them sleepier and less vigorous than their unmedicated counterparts. More women are choosing to allow their bodies to birth their babies using natural methods.
What Natural Childbirth DOES and DOES NOT Mean
It does not mean you have to suffer with excruciating pain. It does mean that you choose natural coping methods to help ease your pain.
It does not mean no interventions. Situations can arise where an intervention is not only needed but is life saving. It does mean asking questions, being knowledgeable, and making choices that affect both you and your baby.
It does not mean that you have to have a home birth. You can choose to have a natural birth at home or in the hospital.
It does not mean that you can’t ask for help or change your mind. It does mean minimizing your risks and level of interference, and choosing natural options.
It does not mean that you fail when you choose to ask for help. It does means making the best choices for you and your baby. It is knowing that it is ok to choose an intervention and medication.
My 12 Tips For Natural Birth
1. Hire a Doula
A doula increases your chances of achieving natural childbirth. Hiring a doula results in:
60% reduction in epidurals
40% reduction in oxytocin use
30% reduction in analgesia
40% reduction in forceps delivery
25% shorter labour
Doulas hold your space and support your choices.
Doulas also know natural coping techniques and we have nifty tools too. We are trained to know the nuances and variances of labour. Utilize all your doula’s tricks!
2. Positive Support People
Surround yourself with positive support people. These people only tell you empowering birth stories. Positive support will allow you to make your choices and encourage you along the way. They will support your birth plan and goals for a natural birth. Don’t listen to negative stories. Let go of the stories where you are told how horrible, scary, or life saving the birth was.
3. Find a supportive provider
Birth is not a time to be fighting for what you want. It`s a time to be going inward, connecting with your body and your baby, and for falling in love. Finding a care provider that supports your natural birth goals is key. You can also request a nurse who supports natural birth.
4. Other Care Providers
Chiropractors are excellent people to have on your birthing team as they can work to release tight muscles and joints as well as encouraging babies into optimal positioning for birth. Pelvic wellness specialists can help you train and condition your pelvic muscles for delivery and faster healing after the birth.
Massage therapists can keep your muscles loose and well lubricated by sending oxygenated blood through your and your baby’s systems.
Other members of a good birthing team can include naturopaths, acupuncturists, acupressurists, dietitians, holistic professionals, herbalists, and anyone else that supports your vision for birth.
By now I am sure you are starting to see a trend in the importance of your birth team. These people are vital to a natural birth, or any birth for that matter. Not only do they have the skills necessary to facilitate what you may need in pregnancy but they also support birth and recovery.
Educate yourself on what can and will happen during your birth. Seek out information and ask questions. Remember your BRAIN (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, Now, Not Now, and Never)! Do your research; find a reputable source and get good quality information and numbers, for example 1/1000 or 2/1000. These numbers sound less scary than a 50% increase. You can even ask for second opinions.
6. Childbirth Classes
Take independent childbirth classes such as Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, Birthing from Within, and Lamaze. Most of these teachers are very passionate about birth and education. These women can make appropriate recommendations for the support offered in your community. They can connect you with important information and help you find a great birth team. Local Child Birth Classes
7. Listen to Your Instincts
Your body often tells you what to do, how to move, and what noises to make. Know the stages of labour and what you can expect, and use the sensations you are feeling to know where you are in your birth. Listening to your body and your baby will often times support you in knowing if everything is ok. Practise staying in tune with your body and your baby. When you bump your not-so-funny-funny bone, what do you do? Instinctively you may grab it, rub it a little, or you might breathe deeply into the pain. I walk around and swear just a little. That is instinct. During birth you may hold your belly and rub it, walk around and talk to baby, or even swear a little. You will also breathe deeply and go inwards to focus and connect with your baby.
8. Use Gravity and Movement
It is no secret that gravity helps you birth your baby by applying pressure and making less road bumps for your baby. Use your bed as a tool, not just for lying down. Bring a birth ball or use the one your hospital provides. Keep moving, walking, dancing, rocking on the ball, rolling your hips, and doing pelvic stretches. These are great ways to use movement to encourage optimal positioning of your baby.
9. Keep Hydrated and Well-Nourished
Drink freely things like water, juice, and tea. Eat rich foods during your birthing time such as bone broth, honey sticks, nuts, and dried or fresh fruits. These food and drinks give your body the hydration and nourishment, not to mention the carbohydrates that it needs to keep your body going. Birth takes up a lot of energy, so keep on top of this! Avoid caffeine, sugary foods, and drinks that will give you a quick spike but send you into a crash.
10. Pee Often
Use the washroom at least once every two hours. Your bladder can get in the way of your baby’s descent, so make sure to void as much as possible. Voiding regularly shows that you are doing a good job at staying well hydrated and keeps those intravenous needles away.
11. Learn Natural Comfort Techniques
Some (not all!) techniques will be helpful to you during your birth. Your body will intuitively know what it wants you to do. Listen to your body; trust and follow it’s lead. Some of the most popular coping techniques are being submerged in water, taking a hot shower, walking, rocking or swinging your hips, counter pressure against your sacrum, pelvic hip squeezes, TENS machines, and massage. There are many more techniques out there that you can look up. Ask your prenatal instructor or have your doula teach these to you. Practice them until they are second nature to you.
12. Read Inspirational Books
There are many inspirational books that talk about the natural birth processes.They support you in eliminating fear and stress as well as giving you a great overview of what you can expect during birth. One of them IS NOT “What to Expect When You're Expecting”! I will gladly take that book off your hands and I know a few doulas who will as well. My book suggestions are also available in my lending library.
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin.
Birth Matters a Midwife's Manifesta, by Ina May Gaskin.
Birthing From Within, by Pam England & Rob Horowitz.
Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, by Marie F. Mongan.
The Birth Book, by William Sears & Martha Sears.
The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin.
Childbirth Without Fear, by Grantly Dick-Read.
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, by Sarah J. Buckley.
Gentle Birth Choices, by Barbara Harper.
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Better Birth, by Henci Goer.
It is my sincere hope that these tips are helpful during your birth. Whenever you are making informed birth choices and are surrounded by a team that supports and nurtures you, your birth can be empowering and beautiful even if your plan does not necessarily go as envisioned.
Thank you for reading this post! I love supporting you, in the comfort of your home and at your availability, through my writing. If one tip you used supported you in informed consent, or supported you in having the birth you envisioned I want to know all about it! Please leave me a message or comment, or even share a tip of your own!