I'm 22 weeks pregnant and striving for a natural childbirth. This is my first baby and I'm surprised at how important having a natural birth has become for me.

So far, I'm learning everything that I can. My husband and I are driving an hour and half one way once a week to take a Bradley Method class, but we are loving it so far and doing our assignments religiously. I've also been reading up on hypnobirthing and I'm thinking about working on some of those techniques.

We also just switched to a midwife when we found out our doc would not be supportive of our choices, and we hired a doula.

*I was wondering what other tips you might have for achieving natural childbirth? Also, what road bumps did you hit on the way (either during childbirth or while preparing)? How did you deal with them?

Looking forward to hearing about everyone's experiences! :)


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I think the hardest part for most women is during transition. It's hardest in the hospital, I think, because you know that epidural is just down the hall. If someone tells you are are only 6 or 7 cm and your thinking you may have to do this for hours, it can be hard. The best thing is to get all the support you can. Request a nurse that will back you up(and has done natural births herself if possible). I think the whole support thing is what I hear is the mostly helpful for women. The fact that you are dedicated to this, tells me you'll do it. It's just a matter now of making it the experience you want. I personally think that that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have a wonderful experience going natural. A lot of how we perceive our births has to do with not just what happens, but how we view it. Or how we allow others to affect our own attitudes towards it. Keep a positive attitude, focus on loving yourself, you new baby, and your new family. While you need to stand up for yourself and your choices, you also need to find peace with all that can and will happen. Birth is wonderful, unpredictable, transformative, amazing, and you can feel both vulnerable and empowering at the same time. Good luck!
I think it was very wise for you to hire a doula to assist you. Where are you delivering?

I think the key in achieving natural birth is relaxation. If you can stay calm and relaxed then everything should progress smoothly. It sounds easy, but that's probably the MOST difficult thing to do in childbirth. The hypnotic child birth info is excellent for relaxation, but it must be practiced with a lot of dedication because achieving a state of hypnosis(which is ultimate relaxation) takes training so the more you practice it, the better.

I would also suggest you fill your mind with positive and keep the negative out completely. IE: all those cable birthing shows. Things like that can really take your confidence down and you don't even know it.

Any Ina May books are good too!

Good luck!
While I was in labor at home I wanted the midwife to show me pictures of what the cervix looked like as it opened because I was so focused on opening up that was all I wanted to think about. One thing that I just kept remembering was that the pain would soon be over and i would have my baby. And sure enough 4 hours of intense contractions and 11 minutes of pushing later I met my baby and there was no more pain. I dis not have any problems or issues along the way. My pregnancy was picture perfect and the birth was wonderful and I really do beleive it was because I really trusted that this is exactly what God made a woman's body to do. Being positive is the biggest thing that will get you through and surrounding your birthplace with only people who are in full support of what you are doing. I know you will do great and remember what a blessing you have given your child by choosing a drug free entry into this world.
Be prepared for a "change of plans", absolutely prepare for a natural birth, but if you do hit a bump in the road that means you need to change your plans... be prepared for that too. That way there is no guilt or feeling of failure or whatever else may come up in your mind.

I also recommend hypnobabies - it has a lot of the same great info as the bradley method.. but it's more detailed in regards to hypnosis techniques compared to hypnobirthing. IMO.

but it's important to realize that in taking the bradley method and then the hypnobabies (or any hypnosis class) that you're teaching yourself two contradictory things.
"birth is painful - a necessary pain - pain with a purpose"
"childbirth is easy, comfortable and gentle for me and my baby" - hypnotic suggestions.

so if you're going to go with a class. i'd pick one or the other. call an instructor in your area if you're wanting to look into it, and discuss it with them. =)
you've actually got a LOT of time to practice which is excellent.
I'm doing the homestudy (for the 3rd time).. i'm having a bit of a difficult pregnancy, and needed the deep relaxation so i can be stress free. so i started at 16 weeks this time.
so i can essentially go through the program 2-3 times! LOTS of practice, which is very important.

my tip:
BRAND... should something come up during the birth that they propose some interventions.. remember brand.

benefits: what are they?
risks: what are they?
alternatives: is there any? can we try something else?
nothing: so what if we do nothing at all?
discuss & decide: give yourself time to do this! and if they're giving you lots of time.. then maybe things don't need to be done at all.

and don't go to the hospital too soon. just because you get there sooner, doesn't mean you get your baby quicker.
Hi there,

One thing I would recommend is to take time with all your birth participants (husband, doula, midwife) present to talk about pain management. I know a lot of women are determined to birth without medication or medical interventions, but it seems that pain management is overlooked.

Do you have a sense of which herbs you want to use, if any?
What about homeopathic remedies or ointments?

Do you have supplies available for making massage tools or other things, such as hot rice socks?

Have you talked about perineum massage? Do you know what you want to use? (olive oil?) Do you have someone picked out to do it? Do they know how to do it?

What about massage methods in general? A bathtub, hottub, pool?

Just going in determined to avoid medical intervention is harsh. Remember, the #1 reason for hospital transfer is for pain relief/exhaustion.
Hello Sara,
You've made a good choice in hiring a doula. I encourage you to spend time with her and discuss your questions and the care you desire. Having an experienced doula by your side that knows you and can be your advocate is good. The acronym BRAND mentioned by Michael R. is great. Also discuss your midwife's approach to labor and how she handles different situations. Labor is different for every woman (and for every pregnancy) but you will be able to handle the bumps in the road with good communication with your caregivers.
I think a huge key is to believe in yourself!! Believe you can do it!!! Your body was made for it!!! Also, and I know this is hard to remember in the heat of labor, but try to remember that the pain is so temporary!!! For me at least the pain is pretty much gone the instant that baby comes out!! Definately read "My Best Birth" By Rikki and Abby!!! Wonderful Book!!!!

Good Luck!!! Having an natural birth is absolutely amazing!!! And it is a natural high that you will have for months after the birth!!!
I think you have done the best you can to get a supportive team around you. If you want a natural birth you will have a natural birth. Making sure the people around you know what you want is very important and it looks as though you have already done that. One thing I did to be sure I didn't have any drugs anywhere near me, was to tell the nurse who checked me in to the hospital to put a note on my chart to not offer me drugs. If your midwife, doula, husband and everyone around knows what you want then you don't have to try to answer any questions while you are focusing on your contractions.
Make a birth plan, and read everything ever written by Ina May Gaskin! Also, I agree that transition is the hardest. Make sure your husband is aware of this, because this is when you will really need support for a natural childbirth. Thankfully, it's over soon and then you get to push (so satisfying!).
This may be controversial, but I withhold the right to receive a small, local anesthetic shot directly into my vagina to take the edge off of the burning sometimes associated with crowning. After 3 births (I'm expecting our fourth) I've only actually gotten it once, but I believe it helped me relax enough that I didn't tear (and he was 10lbs, 5oz).
During labor, I also rub warmed oil in that area to help with transition and a warm compress. I totally believe in these things - I've only torn once (very minor) and all of my boys have been over 9 lbs.
I was wondering how things are going/gone.
Things are going very well. I am about 36 weeks pregnant now and teetering between feeling very ready and very nervous! Throughout my pregnancy, I've been adament about not ignoring my fears because I want to deal with them ahead of time so they don't surface during the actual childbirth. It's amazing the number of things you can think of to worry about! Little things still keep popping up in my head, but I'm starting to think that at this point I need to just try to put all worry aside, get in a positive mindset, and enjoy the last few weeks of alone time with my husband. Also, I've been reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and it's the perfect read for the end of a pregnancy.

The whole experience of striving for a natural childbirth feels like it has been such an amazing battle to get control over my own mind, body and birthing conditions. While at times I am still terrified of what is to come, I expect that if I am able to make it through a natural childbirth it will be the most enlightening experience of my life.

Before all of this, I always thought natural childbirth was for hippies and couldn't understand why anyone would want it. I had a miscarriage before this pregnancy and started experiencing pretty bad panic attacks after that, and I've always been sort of a nervous person. (2 months before I became pregnant again I actually had a panic attack and refused to get on a plane on our way BACK from a vacation -- my husband ended up renting a car and DRIVING me from Florida to NY). I always thought I'd be the LAST type of woman who'd want a natural childbirth! But now it has become such an important goal to my husband and I.

I also never knew:
-how distorted the American perception of labor is (American women, men and doctors are so much more afraid of childbirth than people in many other cultures)
-how screwed up American childbirth practices are
-how many options women actually have

I think if everything goes well with our birth and if it is everything I am expecting, I am going to write a book about it! I would love to share our story because, aside from being entertaining, it would provide women with a lot of information on their options. But even more importantly, I hope to describe what an amazing awakening this has all been for me. It's taught me so much about how important it is to be able to access your own personal power. Our birth and medical culture robs women of what could be the most important important experience of their lives, but if we do our research and stay strong, we can get it back.

Sorry if this all seems very rambly! Anyway, the gist is: things are going very well and I'm positive about my upcoming birth experience.

I wish everyone who is also pregnant and reading this the best in their deliveries!! :)
i don't know how things are going for you now, but this may help somebody else who reads this, so here goes:

for me, having a "natural" or normal birth meant taking medicine or modern tools out of my toolbox. not once during my 33hr labor did i think about an epidural because i had complete erased that option from my consciousness. the mistake that a lot of women make when wanting a "natural" birth is not replacing those modern tools with others (which it sounds like you're doing). for me, that meant learning what relaxed me while i was pregnant and applying that to labor. it's breath, ritual, vocalization, etc. Ina May Gaskin has some great stuff in her Guide to Childbirth as far as techniques to put in your toolbox.

also, you have to remember that there is a consciousness gap between normal birthing and the hospital setting, so it is so important to ground yourself before birth. i had to remind myself that birth wasn't something that was happening to me, but instead my baby and i were birthing together. ALSO- and this, i think, is key- a normal birth isn't something that i wanted. i viewed it as my baby's birthright, and my right as a woman. this could change according to nature (and that's why the medicine is there), but according to nature only. nobody else was in control.

and if you can relax, you can have a really joyous, lovely, delicious, ecstatic experience. above all, i tried to relax and enjoy the ride.




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