I’ve been wanting to write this post for a couple of years, just haven’t taken the time to sit down, do the research, and write it. But, I finally decided that I would take the time, whether I thought I had it or not. I’m so glad I did. I really enjoyed writing this post. Not only am I giving y’all information that y’all may not have known, but I am also learning along the way. They do say that teaching is the best way to learn something 🙂
Now that I’ve had a natural birth, I feel like I give a little more information on natural labor and child birth than I could before I had Asher. I can tell you that my natural birth was hundred times better than my induced hospital birth. It was so calm and peaceful. I wasn’t stressed, was able to relax, and had an awesome water birth. But, that’s enough of that. I don’t want to give away all the goodness of the birth story I’m gonna be writing here soon!
There’s many important things that need to happen if you’re wanting to have a natural birth that I’m covering below. The most important one is the first-
1. Choosing a Prenatal Care Provider
If you are interested in having a natural birth, look into finding a midwife. Make sure that you ask them how long they have been practicing midwifery, where they learned their practice, who certified them, how many fatalities they’ve had in their years of practicing (if any), and how close they are to a hospital (you want them to be within 5 minutes).
Since we live in Louisiana and there’s a law against midwives practicing here, we had to go all the way to Texas. Every. Time. I. Had. A. Check-up. But, it was so worth it. It was also only a 1 hr 45 minute drive one way. Hopefully midwives can practice in your state. Here is a link to Midwives Alliance North America that gives you more information on what a midwife is, what you kind of treatment you can expect, and lots of other good information if you’re thinking about going the midwife route. They also have Midwives State-By-State so you can find a midwife near you.
If you cannot have a midwife because of distance or health problems, be sure to find a doctor that is supportive of your decision to birth naturally and that is not going to pressure you into inducing. You’ll want to write out all of your questions before you go to your first appointment. You’ll need to know the hospitals policy on whether or not you can get out of bed, baby monitoring, how long you can labor before they induce, etc. and I would also recommend having a doula so that you and your husband won’t have to deal with hospital staff while you’re trying to relax and deal with labor. Also, make SURE you and your husband/partner are FIRM in your decision to have a natural birth. Once you go into labor it’s easy for people to change your mind. I wanted to have a natural birth with Titus but didn’t do enough research into how hospitals operate and how to get what you want when you do have a natural birth in a hospital so, I ended up being induced which I believe caused short term health problems for Titus.
2. Educate Yourself
I wasn’t able to take birthing classes, but I read and watched everything I could to prepare me for what I was going to deal with during labor. Some books that really helped me were- Natural Birth the Bradley Way, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and Birthing From Within. I watched The Business of Being Born and More Business of Being Born Part 1-4. I would suggest you borrow or purchase Husband Coached Childbirth and The Birth Partner for your husband/partner to read.
I would highly recommend taking some sort of birth class. There are a lot of different methods out there and not all will work for you. There’s Hypnosis, The Bradley Method, Lamaze, and The Alexander Method. Some birth class instructors will teach one method or just take a practical approach to child birth and give you an idea of what you’re going to feel and different ways to deal with your pain. Here’s a link to American Pregnancy Association that gives and overview of each method with links to each site and reading suggestions.
With Asher, I used the Bradley Method to labor and had a water birth. Birthing From Within helped change my mindset from “If I can relax enough, this won’t hurt” to “This is gonna hurt like heck but this is what I was made to do and I can do this!”. Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth has lots of encouraging birth stories and some tips on laboring that I really found useful in preparing my mind for natural childbirth.
I personally don’t like the Lamaze method because I think it teaches things that go against your body’s natural instinct, therefore making it more difficult for you to relax and go with the flow of labor. But, there may be some of your that the Lamaze method really works for you. I didn’t necessarily choose one method for me but tried to keep an open mind because I had no idea what my body was gonna need for me to do during labor. It just so happened that I labored at night and the Bradley Method was perfect for me.
3. Exercise and Eat Well
Exercise- Exercising is very important on how easy your labor and delivery is. I had a reasonably painless labor with Asher and a very quick and easy delivery. Natural Birth the Bradley Way has some exercises in them that I did everyday for my last trimester that I think REALLY helped with making my birth experience as easy and peaceful as it was. I also did a little prenatal yoga and Suzanne Bowen’s prenatal barre exercises. I didn’t do near as much yoga and barre as I intended to but, I believe the amount that I did helped me a little. The stronger your body is, the better able it is going to be able to deal with labor.
Diet- We women seem to use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever the heck we can get our hands on. We give in to our cravings, no matter what they are. Doesn’t matter if it’s something healthy like scrambled eggs and yogurt or something completely opposite like cinnamon rolls and ice-cream. I try my very best to not use pregnancy as an excuse to eat massive amounts of unhealthy foods like ice-cream, fried food, milk shakes, candy, etc. Whatever you eat, you are feeding to your developing baby. There are many ingredients in foods that we can’t even pronounce and I would suggest you avoid those, especially during pregnancy.
It is recommended that you eat a diet high in healthy fats rich in omega fatty acids, lean meat, yogurt (or other foods high in good bacteria like kefir, kombucha, and lacto-fermented veggies), raw fruit and vegetables, and nuts.
Smoothies were one of my favorite things when I was pregnant. I would put about 3/4 cup of yogurt, half a banana, 1/2-3/4 cup of frozen berries, 1 T. coconut oil, 1 T. chia seeds, and 1 or so cups of almond milk, coconut milk, or water. They were delicious! If you must add something to sweeten the smoothie, use a mild, raw honey. You could also add steamed kale (read here why it isn’t good to add raw kale to your smoothies), 1 T. of flax seeds, cream, chocolate, and almond or peanut butter to your smoothie. The possibilities are endless!
Shoshanna Easling of The Bulk Herb Store has written a book and done a video series on having a healthy pregnancy called Making Babies and she has lots of great gluten-free, casein free, and sugar free recipes that will fix your cravings. Not all of her recipes are gluten, casein, and sugar free. But, they are all healthy.
Now, I don’t want you to think that I never had ice-cream, sweet tea, pie, cheeseburgers, fried fish, and the occasional lemon berry slush. Because, I most definitely did. I just tried to limit the frequency of such treats 🙂 Every thing in moderation is my motto. That doesn’t mean ice-cream everyday even if it is only half a cup. 🙂
4. Vitamins and Minerals
During pregnancy is one of the most important times to make sure you are getting all of your vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D is very important. The kind you get from the sun, not from pills. If you aren’t able to get outside and get some sun, then taking a vitamin D supplement would be the way to go. I tried to get at least an hour of sun every day when I was pregnant with Asher. Just make sure, if you’re laying out, that you keep a fan on you and a mister so you don’t get over heated.
Try and find a prenatal vitamin that’s organic. I used these from Rainbow Light and they seemed to work really well for me. I had tried some by a different brand that made me sick to my stomach. These never bothered my stomach.
Magnesium is a mineral most people are deficient in and is the leading cause of morning sickness. Here is an article discussing the benefits of magnesium and a homemade magnesium oil recipe. And, here is an article discussing the real cause of morning sickness.
Sleep is also important during pregnancy. I know all you pregnant women agree with me here 🙂 Getting good rest is important any time, but especially when you’re using more of your energy to grow another human. Going to bed before midnight and getting 6-7 hours of sleep is preferable. If you’re like me, it’s hard for you to get into bed before midnight because you have work to do after kids go to bed and then you want some down time without kids. Before you know it, it’s midnight! I really tried to get into bed at a decent time at least the last trimester of my pregnancy.
I hope that I’ve enlightened y’all a little and given resources that will help you have a healthy, energetic pregnancy. A few other things I did while I was pregnant were- Dry brushing, drinking lemon water, and moisturizing my belly daily. I also kept a journal. One for me and one for the little one growing in my tummy. 🙂 I’m so glad that I have done that with both of my pregnancies so that I can compare each pregnancy to each other, what I was thinking, how I felt, etc. I wrote short little letters to my little one, at least once a week, to tell them how much I loved them already, how I prayed they would be strong and healthy and grow up to love God, and what they did to mommy that day (Ex. You kicked mommy really hard in the ribs today. You are so active!). I’ve tried to keep up with writing in both of my boys journals so that I don’t forget the funny and cute things they say and do and when they learn to do something new.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll be happy to answer!