When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided that I wanted to try for a natural birth. It was noble, I thought. After all, my great-grandmas didn’t even have the option to not go natural, and they all had more than ten kids! But I wasn’t quite sure if I could do it, so I decided that I would try to make it as far as I could and then get the epidural. Like as an “ok I’m officially throwing in the towel now” kind of thing.
Welp. I ended up making it to about 6 centimeters, decided I was too tired to continue with no sleep, and opted for the epidural.
In hindsight, now three children later, it’s easy to see where I went wrong. Although I wanted a natural birth, it was nothing more than a hope because I did nothing to prepare for one.
What do I mean by prepare? Well for one, I was not taking quality supplements. I never could have imagined what a difference quality supplements would make in nourishing me during pregnancy, aiding my postpartum recovery, helping me produce breastmilk without being depleted.
I strongly believe that the supplements I started taking during my third pregnancy played a major part in both my labor and recovery. I tried my best to eat well during pregnancy, but when I had morning sickness for 3+ months, I just ate what I could keep down. My supplements kept my body nourished and steadily energized, I was able to sail through pregnancy and postpartum recovery both physically and emotionally.
Secondly, I did nothing to educate myself during my pregnancies. I did whatever the doctor suggested, took whatever pill he recommended, and read nothing whatsoever about natural birth. And that, my friend, was one of my greatest errors.
Now understand this: I am not saying you shouldn’t listen to your doctor. They are professionals and they have lots of experience. What I am saying, however, is that if you want to have a natural birth, you absolutely must also educate yourself. It’s pivotal! Without doing this, you may not be equipped to face the challenges that lie ahead. So kudos for seeking out knowledge and reading this post! You’re on your way to the results you desire!:)
How can you educate yourself? You can read books like Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth , with several firsthand accounts of women who’ve had ecstatic natural births. You can also read Supernatural Childbirth, which details a mama’s experience with painless birth. You can listen to testimonies on Youtube. You can ask moms you know who’ve had natural births what they did. And lastly, you can read blogs like this one! 🙂
I have had two successful natural births (both were VBACS). The first of these I did well on because I hired a doula. It was an incredible experience. Afterward, however, I doubted whether or not I could do it again because of how intense of an experience it was. But 10 months later, when I got pregnant again, I had to decide if I was going to pursue a natural birth again.
During that pregnancy, we weren’t in a financial place for me to be able to hire a doula. So I honestly wrestled. Could I really have a natural birth all by myself? I didn’t know if I could, but I wanted to try. I was going to put my trust in God, seek strength from Him, and have my hubby there to support.
Not only did I have a successful VBAC again, but I actually had an easy natural birth. Now when I say easy, I don’t mean “painless.” I say easy because I was prepared with the strategies I am about to share with you, which made the labor short (5 hours) and the birth fast (5 minutes).
If you’re reading this, you’re obviously interested in a natural birth. And while I’m not a doctor, midwife, or licensed doula, I am a mom who has actually physically walked through this. So, I want to help you by giving you some tips that I myself used.
I recently shared these tips with a pregnant mama at our church. She was on her second birth and really wanted a natural birth. She wanted one for her first child but simply did not know how to handle labor. Long story short, she was able to have a successful natural birth and she texted me after she delivered thanking me for the advice. I was so happy for her!
So here are my 5 strategies for having an easy natural birth. I pray that they help you achieve the results you desire!
Focus on one contraction at a time
So you’re finally at the moment you’ve waited for for 10 months: the birth of your baby. And the contractions are telling you that your baby is ready to get outside of your body (yay!).
But contractions hurt. So what do you do?
- You understand in your mind that labor and delivery is just an event that happens once and it’s over. You only have to get through this once. And when it’s over, it’s over.
- You take contractions one at a time. So as contractions come, just take them one at a time. Don’t try to look too far into the future and think about how many hours it will take, how much more painful it will get, etc. Just focus on the contraction you’re in at the moment.
- You remember that you’re in total control. Although contractions are painful, they are also very predictable.
- You let the pain wash over you. Don’t fight it.
It’s important to know that there is a time (probably around 6-7 centimeters) when the contractions intensify. It’s normal; your baby is on her way! Stay calm through this and just continue to take contractions one by one.
Stay calm and control your breathing
When your contraction first starts, take a slow deep breath. If you start screaming or moaning, the baby could end up “in distress” as they call it, and you could end up with an epidural. You don’t want that, so none of this “hee hee who who” stuff we used to see on tv. You want to remain as calm as possible.
I know it sounds funny to say “stay calm” because if you’ve ever experienced contractions before, the natural reaction is definitely to do the opposite! But if you train yourself to stay calm, you will be able to make it through. Trust me on this!
Deep breathing has a way of helping keep you in control in situations when you could potentially overreact, so make sure your breaths are nice and deep and slow at the beginning of the contraction. Long deep breath, long slow exhale.
Control your thoughts
This is, I believe, the primary reason I had a successful and easy birth when delivering my fourth baby. I was very intentional about what I allowed myself to think during labor and even during pregnancy. I listened to Childbirth in the Glory and made Scriptural declarations over every part of my body associated with childbirth.
Never once did I look up all the things that could go wrong. I didn’t even allow myself to think about all the “what ifs.” I committed myself to the Lord and trusted Him to see me through and planned on what I was going to think about during contractions. Now don’t get me wrong, I was completely aware of the potential risks of having a natural VBAC. It was my OB’s duty to keep me informed. But outside of knowing that, I kept my mind focused on success.
When you’re having contractions, after your big, deep breath, tell yourself four things:
- Open up.
- Your body knows what it’s doing.
- Let it happen.
These are the exact things I thought during every single contraction. No screaming, crying, or tightening up-I knew that if I did, it would only stress me and/or the baby out. So keep your thoughts under control and focused. It’s amazing what controlling your thoughts produces!
Choose your laboring position
I made sure that the first thing I told the nurses was that I wanted to labor freely. I didn’t want to be tied down to the bed and I didn’t want to be hooked up the IV. I knew I’d have to be clear about this, otherwise strapped to the bed I would go.
Labor in whatever position feels comfortable to you at the time. You can stand and sway, sit on the peanut ball or the edge of the couch. You can walk the hallways or even lie on the bed if you desire. Choosing your laboring position will give you more of a sense of control over what you’re doing and can help you adjust easier to the pain.
One of the cool things about having an unmedicated labor is that you can actually see how God has pre-programmed your body to know how to birth. I walked and labored during my third birth, but I really wanted to sit at the edge of the couch during my fourth. Your body will labor how it wants to! Do what you feel to do in the moment!
Make sure you only have support
If you allow people to be in the same room with you while you labor, make sure it’s people who will support you. I understand that some families are very close knit and want to be part of every second of your labor and birth. However, if this is a stressor to you, you can kindly tell them that they can come back in when the baby is born. You don’t need to feel like you’re under pressure when there is already so much pressure going on inside of you!
My hubby was there with me, but he slept the whole time. That’s because with the strategies I just shared with you, I labored in complete silence. The original plan was for him to at least put a washrag on the back of my neck, but I knew he was tired and I didn’t want to wake him up. So he slept during the hours I labored and woke up for the 5 minute birth.
My 6th tip to you would be to breathe the baby out instead of bulldoze the baby’s head out. However, I have yet to master this one! But by all means try it…and let me know if you’re able to do it!
Most importantly, do not forget to include God. I can’t tell you how many testimonies I have of the power of prayer in pregnancy/postpartum situations. It’s important that we invite the Lord into all of our situations and remember that nothing is impossible for Him. So trust Him, apply what I mentioned above, and let me know how your delivery goes!