How to Prepare for Natural Childbirth
Women have given birth for since the beginning of time, and yet there is so much fear regarding it. Society offers women the chance to choose the way they want to give birth, and therefore it all comes down to decisions. For many, they have chosen a medicated route as this is now seen as normal birth; hospital, IVs, epidurals and elected cesarean sections. But is this a safer alternative? A major contribution to the fear of childbirth is caused by its dramatization. Every time we see a women giving birth she’s crazed and deranged. She is cursing and screaming obscenities at her poor husband and unable to cope with the pain. I actually have to chuckle a little. Birth does not have to be anything like that. Pain yes. Torture no. If you’re experiencing anxiety constantly, you can actually stall the progress of your labor. There are some major hormones at work here. The hormone your body needs in order for you to dilate is in EXACT opposition to the hormone released when you’re stressed. You’re actually fighting your body as it is trying to open up!
When I was pregnant, I wanted to attempt a natural childbirth and I remember how afraid I was. I searched the South Florida landscape and found nothing regarding natural childbirth. I needed classes, workshops, and support groups to learn more. Finding nothing, I did what most women did; I delivered in a hospital on my back. My son’s birth story (thank God) is not a traumatic or horrific one. But at the end of the day it wasn’t what I wanted and I didn’t even a say in the matter because I found a lack of choices. This set me on my current path to find alternatives. If a women wants to have a natural childbirth, prep work, practice, has to be done in advance. After all, you wouldn’t strap on your Nike’s one day and decide to run a marathon. At least I hope not. There are a few necessary steps that need to be taken in consideration whenever you want to prepare for childbirth, steps that I wasn’t aware of. Here are list of some techniques you can begin practicing now to see you through labor.
Take some courses where you can learn some breathing techniques. Breathing effectively during labor is important because every cell in your body needs oxygen to do work; especially those uterine muscles hard at work during birth. Patterned breathing is also great for focusing your attention on something other than the pain. Penny Simkin, founder of the modern day doula movement, teaches women the 3 Rs of Childbirth. Relaxation, Rhythm, and Ritual. Breathing represents the rhythm in this method of natural childbirth. An additional method to research is the Bradley Method.
These are pain relief techniques to alleviate the pressure and pain of birth. You should practice these in advance and your birth partner, doula, should keep a list of the ones you like. Comfort measures can include anything from rocking, swaying on a birth ball, compress, hot or cold compress, squatting and lunging. I have a comfort measures checklist and comfort measures guide free for download at The Village Maternity Services website.
There are many benefits of the visual imagery method, which is a relaxation technique used in many situations. You can use this relaxation technique, trying to imagine what is like to have the baby in your arms, seeing his big eyes and his little hands. Many mothers find it beneficial visualize their baby while calmly telling baby to “Come down. I can’t wait to meet you”.
You probably know the benefits of aromatherapy, and therefore it shouldn’t be a surprise to find out that it can be beneficial during childbirth. According to a research, the essential oils used in the study were the following: Lavender, Peppermint, Chamomile, Jasmine, Rose, or Lemon. For instance, Lavender reduces maternal anxiety and calms the contractions. One caution, however, if you’re using aromatherapy, the scent should be place on something like a towel that can easily be removed. Laboring mothers find that scents and techniques that worked in the early stages of labor become bothersome and irritating in the second half. This is another reason for practicing several coping mechanisms. You need to have a “bag of tricks” because one technique will not manage your pain and discomfort the entire time.
The most common type of paid labor support is that of a doula. A doula will work with you during your pregnancy to help educate you on birth. She will spend time getting to know you and your desires for birth probably recommending that you create a birth plan. She will then stay with you during active labor as an emotional support. She is not medically trained. One concern families express about having a doula is whether she will interfere with the role of the child’s father. A great doula knows her role is to support the process. She should offer tips and help your partner be the support person. Stepping in when he becomes overwhelmed, tired, or if you begin to spiral out of control. She will be there to help you re-focus. To find a doula in your area it’s best to ask for referrals. Also, if you’re working with a midwife, she may be able to direct you to women she works with.