Finding out you are expecting that new addition to your family can be an amazing surprise. You will probably feel extreme excitement and joy. Along with these emotions, you may feel scared, anxious, and uncertain. (It's ok, we all do!)
After the shock wears off you will realize there are so many questions, especially for first time moms! You may find yourself wondering "Who, What, When, Where and How am I going to deliver this baby?" We have good news! There are SO many different options!
In this article, we are going to talk specifically about natural childbirth in the hospital setting. It is considered to be a little more difficult to carry out a natural childbirth in the confines of doctors, epidurals and medical technology.
Here we will go through your options and also the things you should consider. Let's keep in mind, for the purpose of this article, this post is for those who wish to have a natural birth but is not just limited to them.
For some women, from the time of conception they will know that delivering their baby naturally is something they desire. Others will say "I want the epidural for sure." All of us a Daily Mom support whichever way a woman chooses to birth her baby.
If you have decided that you would like to give birth naturally, there is a lot of preparation in your future.
First things first:
Find the right caregiver for YOU. Just because you are having a hospital birth does not mean you have to have a doctor deliver your baby. When deciding on which caregiver is best for you and baby here are a few things to consider:
- Decide which hospital you would like to give birth in. Do some research about the hospitals in your area. You may even be able to take a hospital tour to see if you like it.
- Pick the right caregiver for YOU, and not anyone else. You can look into having an obstetrician-gynecologist, a midwife, or your family physician.
- If you choose a midwife do some research on the midwives in your area. Find out if they have privileges at the hospital you would like to birth at.
- If you choose an OB/GYN get a good referral from your family physician.
Here are some examples of things to ask when meeting with a caregiver:
- What is your opinion of natural births in the hospital setting?
- Will you support my decision to have a natural birth and my birth preference as much as possible?
- Will you educate me on all prenatal tests and also during labor and delivery?
- Will you provide me with different options about these tests?
- How do you feel about other medical interventions? i.e induction, cesarean birth, episiotomy
Find out what your hospital has to offer to help manage pain:
- Do they have a birthing tub?
- Do they have a shower?
- Do they have a birthing ball?
- Do they have a birthing bar?
Choose a hospital that has the things you may need.
The next step is preparing mentally. You're pregnant... sit back, kick your swollen (or not so swollen) feet up and relax. We recommend watching some movies and reading some books about giving birth. No, this is not meant to scare you, it's meant to educate you!
Here is a list of helpful books you can read and documentaries you can watch:
The next thing you should do is prepare a Birth Preference. We use the word "preference" instead of "plan" because we can not plan birth. No matter how prepared we are or we think we are, it just is not 100% in our control. In your birth preference you should include some of the following things:
- The atmosphere at your birth
- The things you would prefer not to happen
- Your position for pushing
- Your wishes after baby has been born
For a guide to help you write your own birth preference click below.
There are so many things you can do to help your mind, your body, and you soul prepare for a natural birth. Consider doing one (or all) the following:
- Take a natural-focused prenatal class. These will help you better than a regular prenatal class.
- Look into hypnobirthing classes. The belief is that most pain related to labor comes from fear, tension, and the unknown. Hypnobirthing can help settle those emotional and physiological feelings women often have, using hypnotherapy.
- Take a lamaze class. The goal of lamaze is to increase women's confidence in birthing. These classes will teach you many different ways to cope with pain.
- Have your partner learn proper massaging techniques.
- Hire a doula. A doula is a male or female (though usually female) non-medical person who helps a woman before, during and after labor. He or she will provide emotional support to the woman in labor and her family.
- Have an amazing team behind you who supports your desire for a natural childbirth
- Learn to relax! This will go a long way
- Know you cannot control everything and your birth may not go as planned
On the big day: Picture this. You wake up at 2:00am, 9:00am, or you're just sitting around in the middle of the afternoon and your water breaks. Or, you start to feel contractions. Here are some tips to increase the possibility of delivering naturally in the hospital:
- If possible, stay at home as long as you can. We can't stress this enough. Laboring at home will keep you more calm, comfortable and help you stay focused without any unnecessary distractions.
- Once it is time to head to the hospital, let the staff that's there to greet you know that you do not want to be offered any pain relief. You can then get your birth preference ready to be presented.
The last thing you want is to feel like the odds are against you. Having a natural birth in a hospital is so very possible. Stick to your guns as much as possible and ignore the unwanted pressures that can come with hospitals and hospital staff. We are rooting for you and only you can make the right choices for your birth.
Stay tuned for a series of articles relating to choosing a caregiver and birthing naturally.
In the mean time, be sure to check out this post on How to Write an Effective Birth (and Baby!) Plan