It’s officially crunch time…only a short two months left until my due date and I’ve been doing a ton of reading and research on natural childbirth…are you surprised? It’s about time that I start to develop my birth plan and in doing so I thought I should share some of the things I have been doing throughout my pregnancy to help increase my chances of a natural childbirth. Also I will include what my “ideal” natural birth scenario looks like based on the research I’ve done. But don’t worry, I am not naive enough to think it will go exactly as I see planned in my head…I know things can change in an instant and I intend on being flexible. I just want whatever is best for babe (and me) and if that means being open, so be it!
Prepping for natural childbirth
- eating healthy – well I wouldn’t be a very good holistic nutritionist if this wasn’t the top of my list. Eating healthy during pregnancy is SO important, you know that saying “you are what you eat” well it is never more true than when you are building a baby….or I guess it would be “they are what you eat” but whatever! I want the very best for the health of my baby, but also my body’s ability to do what it is meant to during labour requires that my nutrition is in tip top shape. Every function our body carries out is dependent on vitamins and minerals, I need to ensure I am fully stocked, with nutrition to spare to get me through this incredibly demanding time for my body.
- prenatal yoga – I aim for at least a little every day with longer sessions 3 times per week. I believe the ability to open up my hips will be crucial during labour. It can also help the baby find the ideal position, or even flip a breech baby. Not to mention some of the yogi’s I know have the best birth stories EVER! They must be doing something right.
- squats – this ‘easy to do at home’ exercise can really help get the birthing legs ready! Squatting during the pushing stage can reduce the birth canal by up to 30%, best to be good and strong so your legs can endure it!
- drinking red raspberry leaf tea everyday – up to 2-3 glasses/day in the 2nd and 3rd trimester is said to prepare and tone the uterus for an “easy” natural birth. In the summer you can also make a red raspberry leaf lemonade. Just steep the tea with a bit of honey, let it cool then add freshly squeezed lemons and refrigerate. Make big batches that you can leave in the fridge and enjoy when you need a good thirst quencher.
- strengthening and relaxing the pelvic floor – the strengthening is important post birth to help prevent incontinence, and the ability to relax these muscles during labour can help speed up the process immensely.
- hypnobirthing – a method of relaxed, natural childbirth education, enhanced by self-hypnosis techniques.I haven’t taken a class or read all the books (yet…anyways), but I do have CD’s that I have been listening to (…usually falling asleep to) throughout my pregnancy so that I am used to the techniques that will help me relax during labour. I’ll just pop in my ear buds and drift away (er…hopefully). I saw this work first hand very well at my sister’s baby’s birth, she was extremely focused and “in the zone” during her whole labour. It can’t hurt to give it a try!
- a drug free labour – this way I can really feel what is going on with my body and switch positions if anything seems awkward. Women lose this natural instinct when birthing with painkilling drugs as they are basically numb. Not to mention these drugs get passed on to baby, I want my babe as alert as possible when he/she comes out and we can get our bonding and breast feeding started asap.
- evening primrose oil – in the last month or so you can insert 1 capsule/day of evening primrose oil, ah hem…down there, to help soften the cervix.
- acupuncture & homeopathy – You can start acupuncture around 36-37 weeks. Benefits include: reduced post date pregnancy, helps reduce labour length, reduces epidural rates, reduced c – section rates, reduced need for all medical intervention, and increased normal vaginal delivery. Homeopathy can also be extremely beneficial during labour. Luckily for me, my sister, Dr. Mom, ND is also making the trek across the ocean to be with me (as long as baby cooperates), with her comes access to all these amazing natural medicine modalities. An ND who is also a “doula” is highly recommended in my books!
A Natural Delivery
If all goes as planned, and prior to my birth I am still considered “normal” or “low risk” this will be what my ideal birth scenario looks like…fingers crossed peeps!
- as little intervention as possible (of course if intervention is absolutely necessary I will not risk my health or the health of my baby and will listen to the advice of my midwife and ND sister)
- no induction – induction can make contractions stronger and closer together leading to an increased likelihood of additional intervention ie: painkillers
- no pain killing drugs – to keep me and babe as alert as possible
- let the water break on it’s own
- ability to walk around and change positions as necessary and as my instincts guide me
- intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring vs. constant – as to not disturb babe and just let ‘em do their thing
- use a birthing ball (exercise ball) to help relax the pelvic floor
- ability to use the shower during labour
- ability to squat or try different positions while pushing
- delayed cord clamping and cutting (at least until 1 minute after it stops pulsing, which is typically 5 or so minutes after birth) – this can be the difference of the baby receiving up to half of it’s blood volume (therefore increased iron stores) that it may not have received with early clamping. To take it one step further (for extra crunchy mamas) you could even consider a lotus birth which leaves the cord intact for hours and some even leave the placenta attached until the cord separates naturally (days after birth).
- allow the placenta to detach and deliver naturally (up to 30 minutes or an hour, if there is no bleeding)
- immediate skin-to-skin contact with baby after delivery (ideally up to 2 hours) – as long as babe is healthy, everything else can wait, this is important mommy/baby bonding time (stay tuned for more on this from Dr. Mom, ND)
- allow baby to latch onto breast instinctively, this can take up to 2 hours – when you allow them to do it themselves, you increase your chances of a better latch, a higher likelihood of successful breastfeeding, and breastfeeding longer (keep in mind allowing them to latch naturally can be more challenging with a medicated baby)
So here we go, hopefully all this hard work will pay off and I will get the natural childbirth I so desire!
If I missed anything please feel free to add in the comments below!! And hey, any positive thoughts coming my way are greatly appreciated!
superfood mama to be
Natural Birth Resources:
- Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering – Sarah Buckley
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth – Ina May Gaskin
- The Business of Being Born (and the 4 additional movies “Down on the Farm, Special Deliveries, Explore Your Options, The VBAC Dilemma”)
- The Birth Partner – Penny Simkin
And remember… “If a woman doesn’t look like a Goddess during birth then someone isn’t treating her right.” Ina May Gaskin