I can't tell you the number of times I've heard or read someone comment about how people who want to deliver their babies drug-free "have something to prove." My choice to have a natural birth had nothing to do with proving anything. It had everything to do with my belief that the best thing for me and my babies was to allow my body to do what it was created to do, without the use of drugs or any other interventions.
I wanted to allow my body and my babies to decide when the time was right for birth, rather than using artificial hormones to start labor when it was convenient for my doctor or anyone else. I wanted to avoid the use of Pitocin, the drug most commonly used to induce labor, unless absolutely medically necessary because I had learned that it has been shown to increase abnormal fetal heart patterns and fetal distress and can cause permanent brain damage.
I also wanted to avoid an epidural because I wanted to be able to feel for myself when to push, rather than having a nurse or doctor watching a screen and telling me when I should push. I knew that the use of epidural would likely increase the need for pitocin and forceps or cesarean delivery. I also knew that it could affect my baby's alertness and ability to breastfeed, not to mention our ability to bond.
Thankfully, I also had the confidence that I could give birth without the use of drugs. My amazing mother, who is admittedly "a wimp" delivered six babies naturally, the largest of whom was 10 POUNDS! My mother-in-law also delivered her six children without epidurals even though she had pitocin augmentation with at least one (maybe 2 or 3) of her births. So I didn't go into childbirth with the fear of birth that it seems is so common among women today, and I really believe that overcoming a fear of childbirth is the key to having a successful natural birth.
If you would like to have a natural birth, here are my top 5 tips:
- Know that you can do this! Know that you are strong enough and your body was made for this. The chemicals that your body will release naturally are so much more effective than any artificial drugs.
- Find a medical provider and facility that will support your decisions in childbirth. Discuss your plans for labor and delivery early on and if they are unwilling or unable to accommodate them, keep looking! Don't let yourself be bullied or intimidated.
- Take a childbirth class. Hypnobirthing may seem a little "out there" but really it's all about teaching yourself to relax (another key to being able to give birth without drugs!) Another great one is The Bradley Method. If you can't afford to take a class, try to get your hands on a copy of Hypnobirthing, Husband-Coached Childbirth, or Ina May's Guide to Childbirth.
- Surround yourself with people with positive birth stories and don't listen to birth horror stories. You can search yahoo groups, meetup, or facebook to see if there is a natural childbirth support group near you. I'm part of a wonderful homebirth group and I don't know what I'd do without those mamas! (Send me a message if you're in the SF East Bay and would like to join us :)
- Spend time daily relaxing and visualizing the natural birth you are hoping for. The brain is a powerful tool and can yield powerful results when trained.
- Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
- The Business of Being Born and More Business of Being Born (a 4-part series that can be found on netflix)
You can find all the blog posts I've written related to natural childbirth by clicking on the label "Natural Childbirth" (under the list of POPULAR POSTS on the right). I also share lots of great natural birth related articles I find on my facebook page. As always, check back often for more links to be added!