On instagram yesterday I had a question from a follower that is having her first baby.
Anyway Brooke writes:
“How was your experience with an at home water birth? I am due in June and although I will be delivering at a hospital with no option of water birth, I still plan to delver drug-free. Any tips?”
To answer the first question having an at home water birth was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
However, after having three natural births I’ve covered just about every scenario including one in the hospital and one that was not a water birth. So, even though all women, babies, and births are different I do hope that what helped me through labor and delivery might also help you and anyone else that is interested in labor techniques.
Just like marriage, running a race, or any endeavor that takes endurance you have to be all in. If you think, “Maybe I’ll just wait and see how I feel at the halfway point” then you will quit, because you probably will not feel good. This applies to a lot of scenarios. Some things take determination. If you do get an epidural or have some other form of intervention there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! I can’t stress that enough. However, if you are passionate about wanting to go natural then make that commitment ahead of time. This is critical!
Find other mother’s who had a natural hospital births and listen to their stories and advice. If you don’t know anyone personally check the web. You could spend days reading other women’s experiences on line. I have all three of my birth stories written in detail here on messy mom.
You have to mentally and somewhat physically prepare yourself for the act of labor. This could mean childbirth classes, books, or online videos. You don’t want to go into childbirth without doing your homework.
Even though you are going to be in a hospital you can still play music or have special momentos around you.
5. Wait it Out
It’s so hard to know whether or not you are actually in labor. The rule of thumb is wait until contractions are a minute long and three minutes a part. Don’t be surprised though if you never get those text book constant contractions they talk about. My labor was never consistent. You’ll know when it’s time though. The longer you wait the better your chances are of not getting that epidural.
Make the most of the natural pain management the hospital offers and find out what that is ahead of time. There may be a birthing ball, rice sock, or shower. You can always bring your own stuff too, like a tennis ball or oils for massages. Unfortunately, you usually never know what helps you in the moment, until that moment!
This one sounds cheesy, but it’s so true. I can’t say enough how much visualization helps me in labor. Practice before hand. This one can get kind of spiritual too, so my disclaimer is that I am a christian and I use prayer and scripture when I’m in labor, but I have also imagined flowers slowly opening up or butter melting until it’s completely liquefied. I’m really visual so using imagery like this helps me focus.
8. Know the Stages of Labor
If you know what to expect then you can use that knowledge as a road map. Recognizing transition for example helps you know just how close you are to having that baby in your arms. Sometimes that is all the encouragement you need.
9. Have Help
Whether it’s a doula, your spouse, or a trusted friend don’t go into labor alone. Have someone with you that knows your birth plan and will be completely supportive of that.
10. Loosen Your Body
This goes hand in hand with number 4 and 7.
THE BEST ADVICE I HAVE REGARDING NATURAL CHILDBIRTH IS “Loose lips. Loose cervix”
In the movies you always see women screaming their way through birth, and that’s part of the reality of it, but ideally you want to moan or make the “puh” sound. Screaming, clenching your teeth, straining your neck- all that is tightening up your body and when your body is scared and tight it is is no position to birth. I wrote a post a long time ago about eliminating fear during labor and there is more info there.
I would say this is my #1 tip out of all of them, just to do your best to relax. Make a motor boat sound (or “blow horse lips”) to help you keep those lips loose. That was a tremendous help when I was in labor. Your body will take over and do what it was made to do.
These are some practical tips that worked for me, but no matter what happens you are going to do a great job and I am sure you will be a fantastic mom!
I hope this list was helpful. Anyone else that wants to chime in with advice please do so! As strange as it is, talking about birth never gets old to me.