Childbirth is an incredible experience to be apart of for a mom, birth partner, doula and/or practitioner. It is such a beautiful event that unfortunately now has so much fear surrounding it. In mainstream media it is often portrayed as a scary event that you will want to be sedated from, and I want to encourage you to try and see it in a different light. For all those pregnant women out there your perception of child birth will ultimately influence your experience. So why not be positive? It is a natural process that our bodies were designed to endure. There are so many benefits for both mom and baby to have a natural childbirth. Shorter labour times and increased alertness for baby, allowing for proper latch and making breastfeeding easier are just a few.
I had the luxury of seeing Ina May Gaskin, an influential voice in the natural birth community, speak right before I gave birth and she shared her wisdom as a midwife. Here are some of the lessons that stayed with me: let your body be your guide, give birth in an environment that you feel ‘safe’ and childbirth is an innate experience that we were designed to succeed at and it can even leave you in euphoria.
Here were my absolute must haves for my natural childbirth:
- Coconut water: What continues to not makes sense to me is that it is standard practice to forbid mothers to eat or drink anything besides water when they are doing such strenuous work. This started when epidurals and anesthesia became more prevalent in a birth setting and many women were getting sick under anesthesia on a full stomach. Your body needs electrolytes at the very least to offset fatigue. Coconut water is nature’s perfect electrolyte replacement, its delicious, nutritious and offers mom what her body needs during labour.
- Hypno-birthing CD: My partner and I opted to take a hypno-birthing class as our prep for labour and loved it! We listened to a relaxation CD nightly as we fell asleep, listened to positive affirmations for a safe and natural child-birth and I practiced certain techniques for pain management. It really did help pass the time in my labour and when things didn’t go exactly to my birth plan it helped me to remain calm. I had this on my iPod with ear phones so that I was the only one in the room calm and sedated, not my labour support team .
- Frozen Grapes: I believe this recommendation comes from the book The Birth Partner and I absolutely LOVED it! Again, off with the ice chips and hand me some type of caloric alternative. It was cold, sweet and I found it did help distract me during more challenging times.
- Stability ball: Using this in labour can be extremely helpful in helping mom to find a comfortable position and can encourage the pelvis to get into an ideal position to help open up the birth canal. It can also take a lot of strain off moms legs if she is moving around a lot.
- Homeopathic remedies: This is a natural intervention that can be used for pain management, dilating the cervix, anxiety, breech position of baby and so much more. Having a qualified practitioner present or seeking education from a qualified practitioner can make this a great alternative to help manage discomfort in labour.
- Music: Most know that music can impact the energy in any environment so why not turn on music that makes you feel happy and positive. We spent part of the day dancing around the house trying to help start active labour, this is a memory I will have forever, I smile every time I think about it.
- laughter: Laughter is nature’s stress reliever and not only that but when we laugh we are typically smiling and smiling has a direct connection to our cervix, helping it to relax (this is a sphincter reflex response). The more you smile and laugh the greater your cervix relaxes. Tense face = tense cervix so lighten the mood and ease yourself into a easy labour and delivery. The body is so intelligent!
- Doula/ birth partner care: A doula by definition is a ‘women caregiver’. They offer parents psychological encouragement, emotional support and physical assistance during labour. Often times they also offer postpartum care. Studies have shown a major reduction in length of labour, greater than 50% reduction in c-sections and decreased need for pain medication (1). Having a doula or birth partner present can really impact mom’s birth experience.
Wishing you a wonderful child birth experience!
In great health & happiness,
Dr. MichelleReference: The Doula Book. 2nd edition. Klaus, Marshall. Kennell, John. Klaus, Phyllis.