How To Prepare for Natural Childbirth
At Joyful Roots Doula Services, our goal is to help you prepare for your birth, so that you have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience. Although birth is unpredictable, research shows that for those who have the goal of a natural birth, preparation and education are key in increasing the likelihood of having a natural birth free of unnecessary intervention.
Here are four things you can do to prepare.
Prepare your body
Your body goes though incredible changes as it grows your placenta, your baby, and prepares for future breastfeeding. A healthy diet provides important support to your body as it adapts to these changes and it lays the foundation of health for your baby's entire life. We recommend eating whole, nutrient-dense foods, and getting a variety of vegetables. Try eating small yet frequent, high protein meals, and be sure to get lots of water. Try to limit sugars, white flours, and packaged food.
Exercise is important, too, though not for weight control, rather for mental well-being and preparation for birth. It is often said that birth is a bit like an endurance event, and so regular exercise is quite helpful. Activities to consider are prenatal yoga, walking and swimming. We also recommend practicing comfort measures and various positions with your partner throughout your pregnancy.
Rest is also important. Be sure to get plenty of sleep and start taking naps as your due date approaches.
Prepare your mind
For women wanting a natural birth, preparing your mind is just as important as practicing birthing positions.
Firstly, seek out positive birth stories. When you’re pregnant, it seems like everyone has a story to share with you. Some of these stories are inspiring and others are not. If you hear a scary story, remember to honor that person's very real experience, but be careful not to internalize it and instead remind yourself that there is a wide range of normal. Seek out your friends who have had natural births and ask them the details.
Consider taking a Hypnobabies® Course, which is offered both in-person and also has a complete audio program.
Read books such as Ina may's "Guide to Childbirth", and listen to podcasts.
Spend time each day visualizing your ideal birth, and practicing relaxation so that you can become adept at accessing it during times of intensity.
Prepare your team
One of the most important ways to prepare for a natural childbirth is to find a care provider with whom you feel comfortable and are in alignment.
It is also important to have a great support team, as the support that you have during labor has a big impact on the outcome and the way you ultimately feel about your birth. One member of your team may be a doula, a non-medical assistant, who is trained and experienced in childbirth and who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother and her partner before, during and just after childbirth. You may also want to invite family or friends who you know will support you and your choices. Be sure that those present have specific jobs and that they understand how they are to support you. You may even want to have a team meeting as your due date draws near.
Prepare your bags/your home
If birthing in a hospital or birth center, then pack your bags. (Check out our guide, "Packing for the Birth".) Or, if having a homebirth, stock your fridge and prepare your space.
Think about what you may want to sip and snack on and be sure to have a few options of each.
Bring music, too! Make a few playlists, one for relaxing and one for more high energy (did you know a dance party is a great way to get things moving during labor?).
Think about anything else that will make your labor and postpartum experience comfortable for you, and pack that, too.
Your baby's birth day is a precious day. Prepare your body, you mind, your team, and whatever things you may want to have with, to set yourself up to have the most natural and empowered childbirth you can have.