It wasn’t until my 3rd pregnancy that I realized birth could and should be different than what I’d experienced with my 1st and 2nd pregnancies. Here I was, 40 years old and longing for a more personal experience during the birth of my 3rd and final child, but I questioned my ability to endure the pain of birth. At my 2nd appointment with my OBGYN, I was weighed in and made to feel as though I had gained too much weight already, rushed through the exam and shuffled out the door quickly. This was a turning point for me. I had already been wondering what I wanted to do with regard to birthing but I had never veered from the “standard” or “norm”. That day I started researching and reaching out to friends and women in the community that I knew could give me guidance on birthing and my options. It wasn’t until I talked with my husband about birthing centers that I pulled the trigger on finding the right one for me. I was afraid he would have major concerns and want to birth at a hospital, but in reality, he was excited about bringing our last baby into the world in a more serene and natural atmosphere that was all about supporting me while in labor. After more research and some tours/interviews with various birth centers and midwives, I was convinced Jeannine was a match for us. She was warm and kind, and had many years of experience. She had also created a gorgeous birthing center with a spa-like atmosphere. We were in!
Now to back up just a little, let me tell you what I’ve had to do to prepare myself for the differences associated with birthing in a non-hospital setting. I immediately had to change my mindset on birth. I had preconceived notions about natural birthing. Both of my other two children were born in hospital settings vaginally with epidurals and I had experienced varying levels of pain with both of them because my epidurals didn’t work fully. However, I still had some level of fear around the pain of laboring. I decided to get educated, over-informed and consume all things natural birthing. This was key for me to overcome the fears that society had put in my mind about labor. So here I am now, awaiting the day baby Brandon decides to arrive and feeling very different than I felt 39 weeks ago. I’ve spent the last 9 months reading and studying how to prepare for natural labor and with each bit of research, my fear has changed to excitement and anticipation. I’ll keep you all posted once baby Brandon arrives! Below is a good starting list of where to begin with changing your mindset before labor.
Tip #1: Find a Supportive Prenatal Care Provider
Interview care providers before you agree to hire them. Find someone that you connect with and that will support you in your decision to have a natural birth. The two most important factors are finding someone who genuinely shares your birth philosophy and who has a proven track record of attending natural births to back it up.
Tip #2: Read Natural Birth Books & Birth Stories
Read as many natural birth books and birth stories as you can find. There’s something about a birth story that helps us visualize our own birth experience. It could change the whole way you think about your birth.
Tip #3: Choose Your Support Team Carefully
Consider hiring a doula. Doulas are there to specifically support you through labor and birth. Consider who will be at the birth and be certain they support you and your decisions surrounding birth 100 percent. This might include your husband, mother, sister, friends or anyone else who is 100 percent on board with your birth plan and is willing to support you.
Tip #4: Choose a Positive Birth Location
Choose the birth location that is right for you. You have options! From the hospital to a birthing center and also at home you can decide where you want to give birth. Take a look at all of the options and visit some facilities before making your final decision.
Tip #5: Make a Birth Plan
Making a birth plan can help you to be prepared and also ease your mind before birthing. Keep in mind that most birth plans change a little depending upon how your actual birthing experience goes. But at least having a plan and knowing it can change some, will help you to be better prepared.
Tip #6: Stay Healthy
Natural birth is a safe option for low-risk moms, so do everything you can to stay healthy. Focusing on an exercise and nutrition regimen can go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.
Tip #7: Get Educated About Natural Birth
How much do you really know about childbirth? Before you can experience your own natural birth, both you and your birth partner need to know what to expect. Attend a few childbirth classes, read up on natural birth and talk to friends who have had positive natural birthing experiences.
Tip #8: Learn Natural Pain Coping Techniques
Just because you choose not to get an epidural doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. Believe it or not, there are lots of alternative pain coping methods you can use during birth.
Tip #9: Expect the Unexpected
Even though you have a birth plan, have a mindset of flexibility. You never know what is going to happen during your birthing experience ahead of time so you must be prepared to do what is best for you and the baby in the moment. As long as you take the time to prepare, you’ll be able to feel confident and successful, no matter what twists and turns your birth may take.
Lastly, Happy birthing preparation to all of the expectant moms out there that are seeking a natural birthing experience. Check back to hear my birth story once baby Brandon arrives!
-Aly Craig (Plano Birthplace Client & Blogger)