As someone who was lucky enough to have the best version of a natural birth I could possibly have hoped for, I know how hard it can be – as with any birth really. However, I do believe that there is a lot we can do as a mum-to-be planning on having a natural birth to help us reach that eventuality, and so here to give us some pointers on how to prepare for a natural birth in this edition of Expert Editions is Crystal Melville, founder of The Luxury Doula.
Having been there myself, I know birthing your child without drugs isn’t easy – why should someone think about having a natural birth?
Having a natural birth is nature’s calling. Women of old relied on one another for strength and used their innate wisdom to birth their babies. They knew things like using gravity to help pull the baby down to the birth canal, they used birth stools, they used breathing techniques, the of the lunar month that coincided with their bodies were also a great tool to understand the phases of labor. So having a natural birth should not be feared but rather sought after. It’s nature’s way of giving the mother a right of passage into her world.
What can people do to prepare for a natural birth? Preparation, preparation, and preparation
Childbirth education, particularly natural birth is necessary for a successful experience regardless of the delivery type. We know that complications can arise but we must also realize that lack of preparation such as begin education about the symptoms, and stages of labor can greatly affect the outcome of most natural births. Most importantly, understanding the female anatomy, and physiology can really empower the mother to use her body to help her through the birth experience.
No medical relief doesn’t mean no pain relief – what are some natural pain relief options available?
Pain relief during labor has become a huge industry in itself. We must remember that there will be pain in labor, which is what signals, the onset, and quality of labor. Natural pain relief, which is actually better for the mother and baby, due to less or any side effects, is the best option for mothers. There are several options for pain relief that can be offered,
A warm water tub can really help to sooth and relax the mother during contractions.
Particularly on the pressure points, e.g. lower back, can really take the pressure of the ligaments used during childbearing.
A birthing ball
Rocking on a birthing ball or peanut ball can alleviate pressure and distract the mother from the pain so that she can focus.
To help take the pressure off your back and stomach.
Helps the mother to relax, which makes the pain more manageable
Heat packs, rice packs, or a hot water bottle can help ease the pain.
Hydration- dehydration will make the cramping worse, that is why hospitals offer an I.V. and also for medicine if needed and because the mother may not be able to eat, she may also need a cesarean. As a Doula, I would offer water with Emergen-C to hydrate and energize.
Emotionally embracing the birth process
And allowing the contractions to do the work.
My favorite prop of all, these are a new craze but have long since existed. Nature has a way of letting us know that we are one. The use of essential oils can and do help the mother to relax so she can undergo the birth process and feel less anxious about harming her unborn child. Popular oils used are Lavender, Clary Sage, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, Peppermint, Lemon, Wild Orange, Coconut Oil, and Grapeseed Oil (used to massage to perineum).
For those thinking about engaging a doula, what role does a doula play in childbirth? And what difference can they make in childbirth?
A Doula, which means “Maid Servant” or “House Maid,” attends to the mother in every sense. She encourages her, empowers her, and reassures the mother that she was made to give birth and that she can do it! A Doula uses comfort measures (see question 3) to help alleviate pain, and help the mother to focus on the task of using her labor pains to progress her through labor. The use of a Doula has been noted to decrease the cesarean rate in most deliveries when used, and to help educate the mother about the labor process, and during the recovery stage.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about engaging a doula?
Engaging a Doula is a spiritual experience. Just like not all teachers are apt to teach, no Doulas are alike. The Doula should have training, and understand the birth process extensively. There is no law stating that a Doula needs to be licensed but a Doula should have documented training to handle the challenging task of helping both mother and baby successfully.
Could you share some practical tips on preparing for a natural birth?
Practical tips to help moms prepare for natural childbirth are really fundamental in nature:
1.This is a life-changing event so one must and should be prepared.
2. Natural childbirth is less threatening to the baby and mother than the use of synthetic drugs, and the very risky choice to have a cesarean without cause.
3. Know that there are natural pain relief options.
4. Support during pregnancy is a precursor to a successful labor.
5. Having knowledgeable support during labor, by hiring a Doula, can make the natural childbirth experience so rewarding and very much attainable.
If there was only one thing you could say to someone thinking about having a natural birth it would be?
I would say to a mother contemplating a natural birth: You were made for this moment, and regardless of the outcome choosing a natural childbirth shows how much you value your ability to reproduce and nurture another human being.
Anything else you would like to add?
It is so important for women of all ages, races, and creeds to honor their bodies, and accept the support of other women. Even though we may not understand another woman’s custom or culture, one thing we have in common is the power to give birth, which is made powerful through the labor pains we share in common.