So, you want to have an unmedicated, natural birth. Here are a few things that I think you should take into consideration in order to help make this important goal a reality.
Who am I, by the way- if you’ve come across this page I’m assuming you know a little bit about me; I’m Alyssa! I am a childbirth educator, a doula, and a fierce advocate for informed, respected, and supported birth. Natural birth, however, is my jam! I was trained originally in The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth and am a mother that has birthed all three of her babies naturally (and with a tremendous amount of joy!). I appreciate all that physiological childbirth can offer birthing individuals and the immense benefits that more respect for this process could offer a maternity care system that is failing birthing folks quite miserably right now.
Anyways, back to the list. How to have a natural birth:
- Commit to a natural birth. A natural birth isn’t typically something that a birthing person just happens into. The desire to birth without intervention and with as little interference in the process as possible is one that takes determination and commitment to see to fruition. Take time early on to explore the reasons why it’s important to you to birth naturally; these reasons will serve as motivation, seeing you through the natural birth process, even amidst challenges that might arise prenatally or throughout labor and birth.
- Attend a natural birth class. A good natural birth class will be comprehensive in nature, preparing your mind and body for this birth. Birth classes will help you build a foundation of knowledge that elucidates the birth process, offer you (and your partner) practical skills to handle the progression of labor, and arm you with the information necessary to make informed decisions throughout your birth experience. Birth classes will allow you to relax into your natural birth plans, helping you to feel more confident in your knowledge and abilities. I’m partial to Bradley Method natural birthing classes as you get all of this and even more, in a community-building group setting. You are together with your classmates and instructor for a series of weeks, allowing you to get to know each other, learn from one another, and really dig into the birth process and the relaxation techniques. For decades, well over 80% of the birthing folks/families that have taken Bradley classes go on to have unmedicated, low-intervention, vaginal births.
- Choose your provider and birth place wisely. Make sure that you are seeking care with a provider or practice that not only supports your desire to birth naturally but, has a practice philosophy and record of care that encourages low-intervention, physiological birth.
- consider midwifery care as the evidence shows that midwives are the safest providers for low-risk women. They typically, as standard practice, provide the type of care that supports the natural birthing process.
- if you are healthy and low risk, consider birthing outside of the hospital; are there freestanding birth centers near you or licensed home birth providers? Much like individual providers or practices, birth places can vary in how well they facilitate and support natural birth.
- Consider hiring a doula. Did you know that hiring a doula as part of your support team will increase the likelihood of you having a spontaneous, vaginal birth and lessen the chances that you will utilize pain medications, request an epidural, or undergo a cesarean?!
- Practice, practice, practice! I’m sure you’ve heard birth compared to a marathon, it certainly requires dedicated preparation, practice, and endurance (of both the mental and physical type). What might this look like? Get out for a daily walk; in the last month or so of pregnancy really hone in on what helps to relax you mentally and emotionally. As you approach birth day it will be beneficial to set aside time each day, even just 10 minutes, to ground yourself and breathe slowly and mindfully. Laying out a yoga mat, practicing some birth prep exercises, and ending with a few moments to rest, breathe, and perhaps sit with some birth affirmations, a guided meditation, or just focus on your rhythmic abdominal breath is a great way to calm your mind and prepare yourself for birth.
- Faith over fear! It can be easy to get carried away with “what if…” type of thoughts and, most often, these what ifs are negative and fearful in nature. Prepare as best as you can and then choose faith over fear, surrendering to the beautiful unknowns of birth. Following the tips above and honoring your intuition throughout this process is the best way to ensure that your preferences for this birth experience will be honored. From there you must have faith! Faith in your body to birth this baby without intervention, faith in your baby, who is also an active participant in this experience, and faith in the team that you brought together to support you through this remarkable journey.