My son is a year now, but those days of waiting on his coming are as clear today as they were then. I can still hear that first cry, that moment I pulled him from the water beneath me and he opened his shiny dark eyes. It was all behind me in that moment. Nine months of preparation and waiting and longing to hold him in my arms at last. It was all a distant memory. My heart was free.
Birth is truly beautiful. In all honesty I hold it among the highest forms of beauty a person can experience. In its raw state, uninterrupted and untampered with, the process of bringing a new life into the world is exquisite.
Here are my best tips for achieving your own natural birth story.
- Know what natural birth can look like. The brain is a powerful tool. As are fear and apprehension. The way we view a task enormously effects the way we carry it out. Choose to shun away all hyped forms of birth. Hollywood, especially, loves to exaggerate it for us. The screaming, the straining, the yelling at everyone in the room. Banish it all from your mind, my sweet friend. This is natural birth we are talking about, the way birth was intended to be. Open your mind to embrace a new reality -the truth of the strength in your body’s abilities. To rid your mind of lies and fill it with truth, I suggest searching for videos of calm, natural births and watch them frequently. Watch the mother, how she responds to a contraction, how her body moves and sways, how she uses her voice, how she breathes. Everything around her is working with her and for her. The goal here is to excite us, to instill deep within us a river of joy for that day. Don’t approach the meeting of your precious offspring with fear. Rush to it, my friend! Celebrate that day!
- “I’m going to get huge” This is a phrase from the queen of authentic midwifery, Mrs. Ina May Gaskin. While watching a recording from one of her classses, this phrase stuck with me and I have never forgotten it. It came from a client of hers who shocked Gaskin by her rapid rate of dilation for a first time mother. Generally speaking, first time mothers progress more slowly than veteran mums. When Gaskin asked her about it, the reply was, “You said I would get huge. So I repeated it to myself over and over in my head.” This woman knew the power of the mind and body relationship! Hoping for a similar outcome, I applied the same mantra during my own labor. “I’m going to get huge. I’m going to get huge.” Judging from how I progressed from 3cm to holding baby in arms four hours later, I’m going to say it works.
- Trust your body. Along with my previous tip, I’d like to remind you that our bodies are fashioned to do birth well. Our womb, the elasticity of our skin, the fact that our joints are able to shift, the way that we create our own child’s source of nourishment, ready to be given whenever they desire it… Ladies, we were created with such skill! Don’t doubt your body. You will make ample way for your baby to descend. There is room enough. Let yourself breathe and stretch and open, and a human being will pass through your body and into the world. Women do it every day and your body is no less qualified for the task than theirs. Allow your body to do what it was masterfully designed to do.
- Have a doula. This was something I had heard many times. For a while, I wasn’t sure I really needed one. In the end, I did have a doula by my side and it was one of the best decisions I could have made. Think of your midwife as being there to keep you and your baby safe and making sure things progress smoothly. Whereas your doula is there for your everything. She is your lady in waiting. My doula made me food, stuck a straw up my mouth to make sure I was hydrated, massaged my back, was actively applying pressure to trigger points that would help my body progress. Not only that, but a doula will be your voice. She is your birth plan come to life, advocating for the type of birth that you and your husband want. She can also be very helpful for your partner, making sure that he is calm and reassuring him about what is going on and how he can help. A good support team is one of your best weapons to achieving a natural birth.
- Have a massage. Near to the end of your pregnancy, I highly suggest having a massage. Relieve tension in your muscles. Muscles that will be worked hard in a short while! The less resistance your baby meets, the easier they will descend.
- See your chiropractor. Again, the less resistance your baby meets, the easier they will descend. Your body has grown significantly and you have carried that significance below your back and shoulders for months now. High chances say your body is not as aligned as it used to be. The Webster Method is well known to be helpful for pregnant women.
- Relax. This is so crucial to know! During active labor, but even throughout your pregnancy, it is essential that you are relaxed in your heart, mind, and body. Let the trivial cares go and absorb yourself in the blessing that is before you. During labor, unclasp your hands, open your jaw, use those long, low tones they teach you to use in birthing class. Everything is linked, from your head to your toes. Switch off your mind and slip away… you’re floating… you are air, you are effortless, you are serene. I know several ladies have downloaded content of a woman’s voice repeating these things over and over in a soft voice. In intense laboring especially, it can be easy to forget to relax so be creative! All three who were present during my birth were very consistent in reminding me of these things and it was so helpful. If you respond well to worship songs and music then put together a play list and dance or sing or worship your baby out! Whatever helps you relax, my friends, then DO that. We ought to be the only ones who dictate how we deliver our own children.
- The double hip squeeze! This tip is small but mighty. For contractions, your partner only needs to know one thing -place his palms on the outsides of your hips and push in with all of his strength for the duration of the contraction. You can even do this on yourself. I wrapped a light blanket around my hips, crossed the ends over my lap, and pulled hard whenever I felt the pressure coming on. It got me through the half hour drive to the birth center just fine.
- Attend a calm birth class. These classes will cover it all. You can have your questions answered, be encouraged, and learn the absolutely marvelous business that is birth. There is so much more that goes on than I will delve into here, but just learning the wonder of it all made me excited to experience it. Talk often about it. Talk about your fears, your hesitations, the reasons you are excited to meet your little one. You’ll be in good company and uplifting friendships are one of the best gifts God gave us.
- Have courage. Finally, I would just like to add that those of us who have had a natural birth are NOT somehow better than those who have not had that experience. Most of us are not some sort of super woman hybrid with hippie skirts and dreadlocks. It is simply that we feel more comfortable in a home-like environment and sincerely believe that less interventions are ultimately better for us and our growing families. For me, I cannot imagine giving birth in a hospital because the atmosphere genuinely makes me tense. I would definitely be that lady next door screaming bloody murder! I am not better or stronger than anyone else. However, I truly believe that all of us are stronger than we think we are, given the chance to genuinely push our limits for the sake of what we believe. Question is, what will you choose to believe you are capable of? What will you set your heart to accomplish for those that you love?