Discover three reasons why just hoping for a natural birth isn’t enough, plus practical advice on how to prepare for natural birth.
By Kristen Burgess, Contributing Writer
Many moms review birth options during pregnancy and decide that a natural birth would be best. Some choose a midwife, some choose a doctor with a good track record for vaginal births. But preparation for natural childbirth stops there for many women. You want to go natural, you trust your body, so why do more? Then late pregnancy comes, labor begins, and suddenly baby arrives – and it’s not the way you’d hoped. Why is just hoping for a natural birth not enough?
3 Reasons Why You Should Prepare for Natural Birth (and Why Hoping Isn’t Enough)
“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” I actually hate that saying, but my husband seems fond of it. It means that wishing for something doesn’t really do too much good. And that, at least, is true. It’s especially true with natural birth.
Most of us have grown up in a culture of fear or downright ignorance about childbirth. In fact, most societies throughout history have had some fear about birth, or it has been a taboo subject. You need to take the time to prepare for birth because of this. You need to let go of negative messages about birth.
Wishful thinking can’t overcome years of ingrained fears about mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers dying during birth. Education can help overcome some of this. If you’re well-nourished, you can make it through labor. If you avoid vaginal exams and other procedures that introduce infection, you’re unlikely to get childbed fever. If you insist on immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby, delayed cord clamping, and for everyone in the room to shut up and let you bond, your hormone levels will skyrocket to prevent excessive bleeding and other historical dangers.
You May Get Surprised!
Birthing brings surprises. Every birth and every baby is new and unique. Sometimes it’s faster than you were expecting. Sometimes it’s slower. Sometimes it’s a lot slower.
Birthing may be very intense. It could be painful. You might feel overwhelmed.
None of these are bad things. An athlete completing a race or winning a match is surely challenged on her way to her goal. There may be setbacks she didn’t expect. I recently saw a video clip of a woman fall during a 600-meter race. Surely that was painful and unexpected. But not only did she get up, she went on to overcome her three opponents and win the race. It was amazing.
You’re no less amazing – even if something unexpected comes up, you can still birth your baby naturally.
That runner had a huge advantage – she had worked, practiced, and trained for that race. She spent time visualizing her victory. Surely she believed she could win – but she also prepared for that win.
You should prepare for a natural birth.
What About Instinct? Isn’t Scripting Bad?
Many people argue that birth is totally natural and that you shouldn’t be “restrictive” by practicing certain techniques. The implication is that you’re somehow limiting yourself or even hurting yourself by preparing for labor.
Practicing just one breathing technique (for instance, panting), could be limiting or even dangerous (as is the case with panting, which limits oxygen). But that doesn’t mean all preparation is bad.
In fact, when you spend time “preparing” by gaining awareness of your own body – how you move, how you react to stress, what tension and relaxation feel like in your muscles, you create only benefits.
As Sunni Karll says “Trust is not automatically available just by conceiving. It can be developed in the months of pregnancy.”
Your awareness, your attention, your talks with your baby, your visualizations of labor and birth all create trust within you. They build resources you can call upon during labor – consciousness that becomes part of your instinct, that becomes part of your strength, beauty, and power as a birthing woman.
How to Prepare for Natural Birth: Advice
You should start with research and a firm decision for a natural birth. But don’t stop there. Some women do make that decision and then easily give birth. Most of us, however, need to let go of fears and anxieties. You need to discover techniques that help you work effectively with your baby during his or her birth.
Research the right care provider. Take the time to acknowledge and work through your fears. Explore techniques that may be helpful. Get to know your beautiful pregnant body. Talk to your baby. I help mamas do this every day in my MamaBaby Birthing online birthing classes. There are many great natural childbirth classes that can help you.
Read books (start with Sarah Buckley’s Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering), watch videos of gentle birthing. If you’re still early in your pregnancy you may want to watch some traditional medical births too, just to understand the difference for mother and baby (skip these if you’re close to your birthing day.) Most of all, enjoy your pregnancy, talk to your baby, and spend every day building trust that you and your little one will work through a natural birth experience together.
What have you done during pregnancy to build trust in your body, your baby, and natural birth?