Here are five things that I did during childbirth to help me have a natural labor. Even if you are not planning an unmedicated birth these insights can help you in the beginning stages of labor before you head to the hospital.
Eat some food
My first labor was a long one with strong contractions for 15 hours. Thankfully I had prepared myself by stocking up on some nourishing foods. Your body is doing so much work bringing your baby earth side it needs to be properly maintained in order to do its job correctly. I purchased two large bottles of odwalla the week leading up to my due date, one fruit blend and the other the greens blend, naked brand works just as well, and as I was progressing I made sure to sip on those to keep nourished and hydrated. I also chose to snack on clif and luna bars. My second go around I had prepared my MIL with a list of things to pick up once I called her. She grabbed pita chips and hummus and a veggie/fruit tray. These were delicious nutritious things to keep myself and my birth team fueled for the awesome work we were doing.
I had heard of the benefits to using essential oil during pregnancy so I decided to try them with my second. I chose lavender to diffuse throughout my house to bring a calming mood. I also rubbed some on my chest while laboring to make the effect stronger. It really calmed my senses. If you are worried about the smell being too strong you may want to place a drop on a cotton ball and keep it near you, if the smell gets to be too much you can throw it away in a different room. Another oil I used is called deep blue. It is a blend that is similar to icy hot. Periodically during contractions I would have my husband rub some on my lower back using pressure. This helped my muscles to relax and felt really nice.
With my firstborn I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Thankfully I had found an amazing doula. She supported me from the beginning. After arriving at the birth center and only being at 1 centimeter she came home with me and stayed by my side applying pressure to my back and massaging me while my husband got some rest. She was there to time contractions and help keep me hydrated and fed. She stayed with me all the way to the end helping me with positions and just giving me words of encouragement. Had it not been for her being there I don't know if I would have been able to have the birth I wanted.
Water played such a huge role in both of my birth experiences. With my first I stayed in the shower for hours. Having the shower spray right on my lower back was exactly what i needed. Also being in the tub helped my body to relax and open. My second was actually born in the water. At about 8 cm I got in the birth pool and the feeling of being weightless was so calming. I could stretch out and just float while another wave would come over me.
Movement is important to let your baby drop down into position to be birthed. My first time I made a playlist full of sweet “relaxing” songs. While they were nice I knew I wanted something different the next time. So with the next one I decided to rely on pandora. I actually ended up on a Hilary Duff station which was playing a lot of songs from my youth. I was able to get down and sway through the songs moving back and forth. The songs were really calming and nostalgic to me.
Being where you feel safe
The most important thing any woman can do to be comfortable in childbirth is to be where you feel safe. For myself I knew I did not want to bitch in a hospital. I felt like hospitals were where I went when I was sick, and I wasn't sick. I knew millions of women had birthed their babies before and I could too. So my first I decided to go to a freestanding birth center. It was a beautiful house-like building with a huge jetted tub and a huge water heater for my hours long shower. My midwife was prepared for any emergency and was keeping a close eye for any signs that we would need to transfer to the hospital. With my second I decided to stay home. The 45 minute drive my first time in labor was horrendous. I knew I wanted to be home and get to recover in my own bed. It worked so well my labor only lasted 6 hours and I was able to have my dream birth experience.
If you feel safest in the hospital, I would say birth there! Nothing can stall a labor quicker than a woman not feeling safe. If you being home or at a birth center would make you feel anxious or stressed then that is not the place for you. If you are looking to have a low intervention birth, one recommendation is to stay home as long as possible. Try the above tips to labor at home as long as you are able. The sooner you get to the hospital the longer you have for any interventions to be brought up.
You are such a strong and capable woman. Your birth experience can be so much and more. Research what there is to be had with gentler births, water births and family centered cesareans. Reach out to your local bith community and gather the resources you need to have the best birth for you.
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