Natural birth doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating—if you prepare mentally and physically, it can be beautiful and empowering.
Do you desire a natural birth, where you’ll wait for labor to begin on its own, move through labor upright and out of bed in positions that help your baby descend? Do you want to work through the contractions, foregoing pain meds or an epidural?
Your body is designed to labor and birth; use these 5 strategies to prepare for what can be a very empowering and beautiful way to complete your pregnancy and welcome your new baby.
Attend childbirth classes that focus on normal vaginal birth, such as Lamaze childbirth classes. Learn the many effective coping strategies that can be used to shorten labor, change the intensity of your contractions, prevent pain signals from reaching your brain and reduce anxiety. Begin with well-known websites, books and classes that support normal birth.
Find a provider who supports your natural birthing goals—whether that’s an obstetrician, certified nurse midwife or family practice physician. Ask if their patients who desire natural birth are able to birth that way. Maintain a realistic view of childbirth: Watch natural birth documentaries and real birth videos online. Avoid watching birthing reality shows that are designed more so for ratings than education and support.
Surround yourself with supportive individuals and like-minded moms who will boost your spirits and keep you grounded. During your 2nd trimester, consider finding a doula, a trained birth professional that will provide physical and emotional support before, during and after childbirth. If you’re planning to birth in a hospital setting, ask if doulas are available or for a nurse who will support your desire for a non-medicated birth.
Prepare physically for birth through healthy exercise, yoga, strength exercises or water aerobics. Get plenty of rest, take your prenatal vitamins and maintain a healthy diet with lots of hydration.
Create a positive environment, reduce the lights, noise and room temperature and bring your favorite music, relaxation tapes or a pleasant photo to focus on. Be open to how your birth experience unfolds, including any interventions that may be needed so that you and baby can have the best possible outcomes.
Joanne Goldbort, PhD, RN, is an assistant professor at Michgian State University and an expert adviser to Healthy Mom&Baby.
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