I’ve been getting a number of questions on the subject of natural birthing recently. Since I’ve only had one birth, I can’t speak with much experience, but I can tell you it was a wonderful experience. Having Kathrynne in a birthing center where I knew I didn’t have the option of an epidural really helped me to go into birth with every intention to have a natural birth.
I prepared myself with prayer, talking to other moms who had had natural births, reading books on natural childbirth, and mentally reminding myself that hundreds of thousands of women had done this before me. Also, my husband went with me to all our childbirth classes and he really soaked up the information. We had lots of discussions prior to the birth on how he could help coach me through it.
When I was actually in labor, things that helped me were:
1. Distracting myself as long as possible – In the early stages of labor, I talked on the phone, wrote in my journal, sat on my birth ball and clipped coupons while watching a few movies. We also ran a few arrands, I rested for a while, walked around, and even ate some.
2. Focusing on one contraction at a time – When I could no longer distract myself from the pain, I started taking one contraction at a time as they came and trying to remain calm and focused. A few weeks before I went into labor, some dear friends and my siblings had written down and decorated a number of verses on cards and in a little book for me (verses on perserverance, endurance, relying upon the Lord, etc.). These were a lifesaver to me. Between each contraction, I would pick a verse and put it in front of me and then when the next contraction came, I would read a phrase from that verse and repeat it over and over again through the whole contraction. I know that might sound weird, but it really worked for me. It helped me stay focused and not get out of control and it helped me to keep my eyes fixed on Christ.
3. Staying at home as long as possible – One thing I had wanted to do all along was stay at home as long as possible. Most of my laboring was at home and we waited to go to the birthing center until I felt like I couldn’t handle the laboring anymore myself. I didn’t want to be pacing around the birthing center for hours and was much more comfortable at home.
4. Changing positions regularly – This is something my midwives really stressed before I went into labor. They encouraged me to try a variety of positions while have contractions. If something didn’t feel good, try something else. I sat on my birth ball, got on all fours, squatted in the bathtub, walked, among many other things. If something was working, I would keep doing that until it didn’t seem to be working any more, then I would try something else.
5. Laboring in the water – This was the best thing I did! When I was at home, I spent part of the time in the bathtub and found it to be so relaxing and soothing. When we finally went to the birthing center, I got in the Jacuzzi and got on all fours, almost completely submersed in water, and what relief this was! In a matter of about 45 minutes, I went from 4 cm to complete in the Jacuzzi. If you can labor in the water, by all means do it.
One thing I did want to mention is that it is not always possible to have a natural birth. A few months before I had Kathrynne, one of my friends, who was planning a natural birth at home, ended up having to have a C-section. After hearing her account of her birth, I purposed to go into birth planning for a completely natural birth, but to not be disappointed if that was not possible. Having a healthy baby was the goal and if, in order to do that, there needed to be medical intervention, that was okay.