This topic has been on my mind for several different reasons. I recently had a conversation with a pregnant friend who called her OBGYN’s office explaining that she wanted a natural birth. The receptionist’s response was, “We don’t do that procedure here.” Wait, what? You don’t let a woman deliver her baby without medication?
I know that having a natural birth seems absolutely crazy to many people. I always pictured myself getting an epidural. I mean, why go through incredible pain when you can choose to not feel a thing? When I was pregnant with Johnny I did a lot of research on natural vs. epidural births. Learning that one third of women in the United States have c-sections and that epidurals and Pitocin contribute to this high rate was frightening to me. My aunt, mom, and a close friend had amazing experiences with their natural deliveries and helped convince me that I could do it too. My husband fully supported me and together we started preparing for the big day.
I like to compare natural labor to running a marathon. Both are nearly impossible without training physically, mentally, and emotionally. Both require support from loved ones. Both require more than a few days of preparation. It’s a lot easier to drive 26.2 miles than it is to run it. And labor is a little (okay, a lot) less painful when you get an epidural. Now let’s be honest, labor and recovery from childbirth is difficult and amazingly rewarding no matter how you do it.
Here are some ways that I prepared for a natural delivery. I hope you will find them helpful too!
Learn about childbirth. When I was pregnant I was obsessed with reading birth stories online. This was helpful but also gave me a lot of anxiety. What was more productive was reading the book “Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn”. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. I felt as prepared as possible for the delivery given this was my first pregnancy. I even had my husband read some segments that I thought were beneficial for him.
Work with a doula. Having our doula, Karen, present was the best decision we made for having a natural birth. Karen was essentially our birth coach and provided physical and emotional support throughout the entire process. She gave us suggestions on how to progress labor using different positions, was constantly aware of my needs, and helped keep John and I calm. Most importantly she was our advocate. I only saw my nurse for about 10 minutes every hour and my doctor came in at the very end, but Karen was there every minute we needed her.