Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So You Want To Try Going Natural...

I am going to start off by saying that I loved my natural birth.  But, I started preparing for it very early in my pregnancy by reading all sorts of books about it and investigating different methods.  However, I couldn't afford an official childbirth class.  When it came time for labor, my approach wasn't straight out of any one method.  It was a mixture and just doing what felt right. 

 After talking with a friend this morning, I think what helps most in a natural birth is just knowing your options and not being afraid to do what you need to do!  However, especially with our first, many of us don't realize that there are things we can, and should, do to make birth easier.  Here are some things that if you know and utilize, will make a natural birth possible, even with very little time for preparation.

1 - Whatever you do, DON'T just stay in bed.  Unless you have a high-risk pregnancy and aren't supposed to be standing, get up and move.  Laying down is one of the worst possible positions for pain relief during labor.  You may be hooked up to a bunch of IV's and monitors if you are being induced.  Don't let it stop you.  Just drag the cord and the IV cart around with you.  Your monitors may need readjusted and you nurse might get annoyed, but you know what.  Who cares?  You are having a baby, and trying to relieve pain.  Tell the nurse that she is just going to have to continue to readjust your monitors when they slip.  Or better yet, if you are not being induced ask for intermittent monitoring and bring in the evidence showing that in an uninduced birth, constant monitoring has no better results that intermittent monitoring.

2 - Try to not be hooked to an IV if you don't have to.  You really don't need the fluids that some hospitals make standard (mine didn't, but I know some do).  Offer to drink water instead.  If you have to get antibiotics, asked to be unhooked once they have run their course.

3 - Get rid of the pain-scale.  Either take down or cover up the pain scale poster.  Ask your nurse not to aske your pain scale.  The last thing you want to do is analyze how much pain you are truly in on a scale from 1-10

4 - Tell your nurse not to offer you an epidural.  When you want one, you will ask.  Until then, don't bring it up.

5 - Find out if you hospital provides a birthing ball, if not think about buying one.  These really do help.

6 - Read at least one, birthing method book.  I love the Lamaze book, and I picked and chose what I liked from the hypnobirthing book.  Practice the techniques they recommend.

7 - Do a google search of positions for pain relief during labor.  There are a lot out there.  Just get some in your mind.  But when labor comes, you will find yourself naturally going to a position and rhythm that feels good to you.  Just don't be afraid to do what feels right.  For me it was sitting on a birthing ball up against the bed and stretching my arms over the bed farther and farther with the deepening of the contraction.  For a friend it was a slow dance position, putting all her weight on her husband, bending her knees into a crouch and swaying.  

Then search birth positions.  There are a ton out there to choose from.  It is hard to plan on one, because you don't know what will feel right until you are there, but just know what is possible and follow your instincts.

8 - Practice long, deep breathing where you breathe from the bottom of your stomach up.

9 - Practice different relaxation techniques.  Everything from guided readings, to meditation, to relaxing one body part on a time.  The hypnobirthing book has tons to practice, and they really help.

10 - Make your husband your advocate.  Let him know what you want and expect.  Once you are in the middle of labor, you don't want to have to answer any questions or advocate for yourself.  Let him do it.  He will enjoy being able to help.

11 - Massage your vaginal walls with olive oil.  I know this sounds super weird, but have your husband do it as foreplay if you really want.  Do it for at least 5 minutes focusing on the lower vaginal wall towards your rectum.  Try to do it every day.  This is a great way to try and avoid an episiotomy or tearing.

12 - Find the hypnobirthing "birthing affirmations" and either read or listen to them every day.

13 - Find good background music to relax to.  The best relaxing music doesn't have lyrics or really any melody.  I personally recommend "Natural Music for Sleep" by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson. Choose one track to put on repeat. Practice relaxing to this music. 

14 - When you get to your birth room, dim the lights, shut the door, turn on your chosen relaxing music, asked for hushed tones and then trust yourself. 

15 - Go with the flow of your body.  Don't be afraid to moan, sway, change positiongs.  Believe.  Enjoy.  Try to make your birth as peaceful and relaxing as possible. 

16 - Above all, remember this.  Your body was made to have a baby.  You can do this!

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