Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Naturo-Mommy's Guide to Achieving a Natural Birth

A guide to achieving a natural birth                                        Note: All pictures are used with permission
Most women that choose to do attachment parenting or have had traumatic birth experiences in the past are in the process of educating themselves on pregnancy, labor and birth. Birth is one of Naturo-Mommy's goals and passions to educate women (and their partners) on their bodies. The more you know, the more in control you'll be over your labor. Knowledge is power, if you're in the presence of a care provider that wants it their way. I've decided to take it upon myself to write out some things that have helped me and those around me achieve a natural birth.

Choosing A Care Provider
It's always very important to choose your care provider very carefully, if you choose to get prenatal care. It's not wise to settle on just any care provider, if you have more than one to choose from, because you just don't know what their bedside manner is like or if they'll try to push you around. Always look up online reviews of the doctors or midwife you are choosing. If you don't see much good about them, steer clear!

Birth Attendants
One thing that I want to make clear is that midwives and OB/GYN's are not the only birth attendants you can have at your birth. There are women who specialize in support, compassion and advocating for your needs during labor, when you or your partner cannot. She is a doula and a doula can be very invaluable, and act as a loving, patient friend during a difficult time during labor, whether it be trouble with you, your baby, your doctor or nurse pushing things on you that you don't want. She is there and will help. Your doula may also specialize in post-partum care, and this can include helping you care for yourself, helping with breastfeeding and even placenta encapsulation, which we'll get to later.
photo credit: balanced birth

Birth Plan
Say what you will about birth plans, but they can be just as valuable as a doula. If you want to be left alone during labor, write it down. If you don't want fetal monitoring, write it down. Make sure to share your birth plan with your provider a few weeks in advance so you can talk about it in future visits and your wishes won't be announced last minute and surprise an unsuspecting Obstetrician. I made this mistake with my youngest. "Oh my! What's a fetoscope? I've never seen one." "You want delayed cord clamping? I don't do that." "You'll have to ask the nurses about doing minimal monitoring." You don't want to be in that spot of explaining yourself on several topics in one setting. If you plan on having a few people at your birth, it might be a good idea to tell your care provider in advance as well.
Here's a good birth plan template

When Labor Begins
Notify your provider when you know you are in labor. This doesn't necessarily mean you need to run off to the hospital or have your midwife and doula rush over to your house. Just go with the flow and time your contractions, if you like. Find a good groove and listen to music or meditate. If it's at all possible and you have an established chiropractor, go get an adjustment so everything is aligned perfectly for labor! Take a shower and eat. It might be a good idea to eat something that's sure to give you an energy boost, since your body will be doing a marathon. Eat some nuts or some noodles and definitely keep your sugars in check with some fruit, so you'll be a little less likely to feel sick later on. Do things that keep you content and relaxed while in early labor. This is not an emergency, this is a joyous, exciting time, when you'll meet your baby.

It's Intense, What Do I Do?
Your contractions are getting close together and becoming too much for you to handle. If you're choosing to go to the hospital or stay at home, it's important to tell your care provider how labor is progressing and what your game plan is and ask for tips on pain relief. Here are a few things you can do:

Shower or bath: Some people refer to water as nature's epidural. While it doesn't take away all labor discomfort, most women who use water for contractions find immense relief.

Pressure on hips: If someone is with you, have them press on your hips during contractions for counter-pressure.

Sway & rock: Find someone or something sturdy to lean forward on and sway those hips! Not only does it keep those muscles loosened, it helps baby come down more. You can also get on hands and knees and rock back and forth or sway your hips in that position as well.

Vocalizing: Vocalizing is a very important part of pain relief in labor. Some women do it more than others or are louder or more... colorful with their vocalizing words. I have found, through experience and asking around that one of the better vocalizing techniques to keep you more relaxed is to keep your throat, jaw and eyes relaxed and mouth in a wide "O" position during contractions. "Aaaaahhh'ing" through contractions will intensify them more. A good, long, low "ooooohhhh" does wonders! And if you need to curse or scream, DO IT! haha

Being in water during labor is known among the natural birth community as
nature's epidural and helps relax mom. 

The Staff Is Harassing Me About Interventions
You've arrived at the hospital and you've given your birth plan to staff. There is at least one nurse that doesn't look at the birth plan or chooses to ignore it. She keeps asking if you want drugs, if she can check your cervix, the list goes on. It's very important that you make your wishes clear or have someone there to advocate your needs. Whether that be a doula, your partner, family or friend, as long as they're your rock as far as what you want and need. Only YOU get to choose what happens to your body and your baby. Nobody else. Another thing that a nurse or doctor might get you to NOT do in labor is EAT. Eat whatever you want, whenever. Your body needs fuel to facilitate labor! And of course, if you're at home, no one will stop you from eating. ;)
Edited to add: Don't feel like a failure if you do end up needing an epidural. It happens. I know a few mamas who've been way too exhausted to continue labor without one and just needed a bit of rest, or actually having a swollen cervix because their body wouldn't quit pushing at 8 or 9 centimeters. There's a place for epidurals, but they are an abused intervention. It's a great option, though, for the reasons I explained above.

Different Positions to Bring Baby Down & Pushing
This is another area where you'll need a strong advocate. A lot of doctors and nurses don't like a patient that won't "be good and lay down". I know that's not the case for ALL, but it happens more than you'll care to know. I've heard of women being FORCED to be on their backs. Get in any position that is comfortable for you and ask for whatever you need. Hip pressure, help getting to hands and knees, swaying your hips and holding onto someone. You want to keep those hips open for baby to descend. When it's pushing time, you want to TRY to stay off your back unless that's what you feel is right. Being on your back closes up your pelvis by 30% and baby will need to go under your pelvis and UP and out, so you're essentially working against gravity instead of with it. More effective positions for birthing are upright positions, such as: Squatting, Birthing stool, or full upright standing. You can also use positions that don't involve being upright. Hands and knees is always great. Side-lying with one leg up is good for a wide pelvic opening.
Good upright, squatting form, supported by partner. Both effective and intimate.

In The Event That A C-Section Becomes Necessary
You can get a spinal block, which is when the anesthetic goes INTO the spine, whereas an epidural is right outside of the spine. You can get the epidural, of course, or you can be put to sleep. Anything is possible when it comes to spinal pain relief, because sometimes it doesn't work. In which case, usually in an emergency, they'll put you under. If you're awake, you still need your lovely family, friend, or whoever to advocate for your needs in this vulnerable time. Explore your options for what you'd like when baby is being born, because it's not just cut and go. Bonding is still crucial, even with c-sections. And even if you end up with a c-section, do not feel like a failure. Your body isn't broken and you can always try for a VBAC later or a gentle c-section if that's what you're comfortable with.

Everything that happens after the birth is crucial to yours and your baby's bonding as well. Even if you end up with a c-section, you might try immediate skin-to-skin so that the two of you can bond chemically through touch and sense of smell. The oxytocin coursing through your body is there for a reason. That wonderful love hormone! Having baby close for even the first hour is very important. Baby does NOT have to leave your side, unless showing signs of distress. If baby is fine, which is usually the case, baby stays with you, with the cord attached until it's done pulsating, nursing, looking at each other. Never allow traction to be applied to the cord to expel your placenta. This can lead to hemorrhaging. Let it come on its own. Make sure you and your little family are left to relax and bond, whether you're in hospital or at home.

Breastfeeding immediately after birth helps the uterus
contract down and release the placenta.

(Admin Lizzy with her youngest- home birth)

Birth group mama (who chose to remain anonymous)

It's very important to educate yourself on natural techniques, such as the ones described. Side effects of medications offered to you in the event that you need them and also things such as delayed cord clamping, skin-to-skin, keeping your placenta for encapsulation or a placenta print, etc. I hope that this helps even a few mothers cope with labor a bit better. My biggest hope is that women make more informed decisions and not be forced into something they aren't comfortable with because their doctor is bullying them. Informed consent is important. Knowledge is power.


  1. Great post! I have shared a link to this on my latest post - "Sweet Links: New Formula Push in Asia, Breastfeeding a Toddler, Babywearing, Natural Birth Guide, Cut down on the OJ & Squeezy Packets" -