Natural birth can be a truly incredible experience, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
Wait, what exactly is natural birth?
Whether or not to have a natural birth is a very personal decision, and women have differing opinions on it. My friend Jen claims her natural birth was one of the most incredible experiences of her life. “Even though I was fully there, and it was painful at times, I felt so very rewarded in the end. When my daughter was born without the influence of any drugs, her eyes were clear, and we formed a bond quicker than we might have otherwise.”
Aren’t sure? Here are 15 things that you should know about natural birth before making the decision whether or not it’s for you!
15 There Will Be Pain
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. With natural birth, there will be pain.
Everyone’s pain is different - don’t let horror stories scare you, as some women will obviously have more painful births than others - but you have to expect some sort of pain. But even though there’s pain, try not to focus on that now.
14 There Are Ways to Modify the Pain
Some women swear that recommended yoga poses or certain breathing techniques have helped them with the pain during childbirth. Some find meditation helpful. A doula can help keep your mind off the pain.
This might sounds strange, but many women also have embraced hypnosis during birth to manage the pain. If you have a great acupuncturist, some even feel acupuncture can help with labor pain. Look into the options and find one that works for you - or even try a few out!
13 You’ll Have a Faster Recovery
Motherhood in the beginning is very difficult, and one of the things many natural birth advocates love is that natural birth allows you to have a faster recovery. How, you ask.
12 Have a Birthing Plan Set Up Ahead of Time
What is it that you don’t want? When would you want intervention?
Make sure all of your plans are known by your partner and anyone else who will be present at your birth, whether it be family, your midwife, doula, and/or doctor. When things get quite tough, you want to be sure that everyone knows your wishes.
11 Have a Backup Plan
Birth is not always the easiest process; make sure everyone has a clear understanding about what exactly you want, and when things should be adjusted differently. Sometimes, a Cesarean birth might be a life-saving operation. Talk with your partner and medical professional about this ahead of time.
Talk to your doctor about medical intervention, and why you might need more invasive procedures to help you deliver your baby.
10 Wave of the Future With Water Birth
Some women fully advocate for a water birth - it's believed to be less painful, and provide ease during birth. It can also speed up your delivery time! There are concerns about the risk of extra time if a problem occurs and you need to be moved, but many women love it. Discuss this with your midwife or doctor.
Many birthing centers have tubs suitable for water births, or you can rent small pools if you are doing a home birth.
9 Stronger Mother-Baby Bonding
One study out of Yale University found that natural childbirth was linked to stronger baby bonding than C-section. During natural childbirth, certain hormones are released that are not released during a C-section - these hormones are related to an increase of love and emotions, and these hormones might be responsible for reducing postpartum depression.
8 Faster Recovery
Not only do women who have had natural births recover faster than a C-section, they tend to spend less time in the hospital after giving birth. Going home soon sounds good to most moms!
7 It's Safer Than Being Induced or a C-section
We all know that anytime you get any kind of surgery there are health risks. C-sections have quite a number of risks. Minimizing the medical intervention can be a safer option in many instances.
6 Find a Practitioner Who Supports Your Idea of Natural Birth
If your doctor is all about the epidurals, she/he might not be the best person to work with during your natural pregnancy. You want a midwife or doctor who supports your plan and natural birth idea, who will encourage you to have your birth the way you really want it (though of course, someone who is willing to step in with different suggestions should a true emergency come up.)
5 Don’t Take Someone Else’s Word for It
Everyone has horror stories. I know women who spent the last 5 months of their pregnancy on bedrest - that doesn’t mean that everyone who gets pregnant will be stuck in bed for five months. Some women have a horrible experience with natural childbirth - other women have amazing experiences. Don’t listen to them - listen to yourself and make your own decisions.
My friend who had a natural birth raved about it afterwards. Her wife said, “You were in so much pain,” but my friend responded, “I don’t remember that anymore. I just remember what an amazing experience it was.”
4 Get a Doula
Many women swear by doulas. Doulas basically serve as an “assistant to the pregnant woman.” They make sure that women are happy, hydrated, safe, healthy, sticking by their birth plan, and helping out in any other ways necessary - like putting another child to bed, making meals or tea, and just being there.
Doulas can help offer advice on what to do to manage the pain, help you focused, and take your mind off the pain. “My doula was my BFF during my birth,” swears one of my friends, who had a natural birth. The right doula can really make you feel like that.
3 Educate Yourself
There are ways to make natural birth easily - and yes, there are classes for that!
By learning about the different ways of birthing, you give yourself an advantage during pregnancy. Check in your area. You can take Lamaze classes, use The Bradley Method (for a medication-free birth), or Hypnobirthing. Talk to your midwife or doula about any local classes they might recommend.
2 Keep Your Pregnancy Weight Steady
No one wants to gain more weight than is recommended during pregnancy, but it’s hard. Here’s some additional motivation - women who gain less weight during pregnancy are less likely to have complications. So if you're having a natural birth and want less complications, be careful with how much weight you gain.
1 Prepare By Having a Fit Pregnancy
You’ll need energy and stamina to keep yourself going strong all labor long. To do this, your body should be used to long energetic sessions. Stay active and fit all pregnancy long. Practice pregnancy-friendly yoga so you can have flexible hips. Work out (with doctor’s approval, of course).
Is natural birth for you? Only you can decide!