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Choosing an Unmedicated, Natural Birth

Planning to birth without medication or unnecessary interventions is becoming increasingly popular. To plan a unmedicated natural birth, surround yourself with pregnancy care providers who support your goal. This means a midwife or physician who is experienced and comfortable with natural birth. Let them know you want to give birth in whatever position is most comfortable. Ask if they require their patients to receive IV fluids? What about their episiotomy and cesarean section rates? 

Who you choose to attend your birth will probably determine where you give birth, so research your options for birthing facilities. Ask about their policies for continuous versus intermittent fetal monitoring, freedom to move in labor, access to showers and tubs, and their cesarean section rates.

If your birthing facility doesn’t provide a doula, consider hiring one. These labor support experts provide emotional, physical, and informational support. Receiving continuous labor support by a trained doula typically results in using less if any pain medication, lower cesarean risk, and greater satisfaction with birth.

Preparing Yourself

Birth is physically demanding; it requires strength and endurance. Thirty minutes of daily exercise can improve your energy levels, decrease the risk of pregnancy complications, and increase your endurance.

A daily practice of pelvic floor exercises throughout pregnancy along with perineal massage during the last few weeks will give you greater control during pushing.

Prepare mentally to embrace the discomforts of contractions as the good work of birth and surrender to the pain, trust your body, and know that you are safe.

Giving Birth

If contractions begin at night, try to sleep in between them. Rest as much as you can. Stay hydrated, and stick to easy-to-digest foods. Spend the early part of labor at home as long as you’re full term, baby is moving normally, and your bag of water is intact.

As you labor, create a calming environment. Ask those around you to keep their voices soft and respect your space. Dim lights, candles (electric if you’re in a hospital), essential oils, and music all help you focus on birthing.

Practice the comfort techniques from childbirth classes: breathing, relaxation, visualization, and position changes. Get out of bed and onto an exercise ball or into the shower; spend time upright and change positions to help labor progress. Ask your partner, doula, or nurse to support you with massage, counter pressure, a heating pad for back labor, and cool washcloths for your neck or forehead. If a tub is available, getting into the water can help relieve the intensity of the contractions.

The experience of giving birth is intense and like nothing else, but the key is to simply allow it to happen.

Go to our Labor & Birth section for many more useful articles. Plus don’t forget to visit our BREASTFEEDING SECTION where you will find many more breastfeeding support articles. We also have a Diapering Zone in conjunction with Huggies

Author

Paris Maloof-Bury, CNM, RNC-OB, IBCLC is a certified nurse-midwife and lactation consultant at Sutter Health in Davis, CA.

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