Monday, December 3, 2012

How to Have a Natural Birth

Recently, I had a conversation with someone about wanting a natural birth and how hard it is to get that without a fight on your hands.  She asked the question, "Why can't you just say 'I don't want the drugs.'?"  It was an interesting question, really.  Why is it so difficult in American obstetrics to have a natural birth?

I think there are many factors here.  Fear is at the top of the list.  Fear of pain, fear of lawsuits, fear of the time commitment.  I think loss of control is also a factor.  We like to control everything.

And as much as we glorify the "superhero," we hate her when it comes to birth.  We want her to fail.  Her natural birth makes me feel bad about my medicated birth.  It's easier to believe that no one can do it than it is to believe I couldn't do it. 

The media is at fault here too, but it's largely because they feed the fear.  I have a mom right now doing Birth Boot Camp online classes that was thinking about transferring to a natural-birth-friendly hospital but it's an hour away.  We get this idea from all the sitcoms that the minute labor begins - or water breaks - the baby is going to fall out.  Women and men are fearful of a birth place that is more than a few minutes away. In reality, they could probably cross state lines with plenty of time to kill!

And then there's the noise factor that I've been talking about for years - the majority of the people at the hospital want you to have the drugs because of the noises you might be making, be it moaning, grunting, or even screaming.  Those noises make people uncomfortable when they are not used to hearing them. Personally, I like to hear the noises a woman is making in labor because you can tell how well she is handling things. Those noises let her support team know what she needs. Who needs a vaginal exam?!  Just listen to her!

In addition to making the laboring woman be quiet, the control is now shifted to the medical staff.  They do not have to wait for your labor to progress.  Like magic, they can force your uterus to contract whenever they want it to with pitocin.  What power!  The laboring woman is powerless at this point.

Frankly, people just don't understand why someone would want an unmedicated birth.  I was that way with my first baby.  I couldn't believe it when people would ask me if I was having the drugs.  Of course I'm having the drugs!  I get it.  I've heard a million different reasons for wanting a drug-free birth over the years, but in the end, a couple has to be willing to do what it takes.


1.  Believe that your body and baby will work together.

2.  Choose a care provider very carefully.  They may make or break this experience.  If you have chosen wisely and you do have a cesarean or are encouraged to induce, you will not second guess them EVER.

3.  Take a thorough childbirth class.  As the founder of Birth Boot Camp®, I believe our 10-week curriculum is the best program out there, preparing both partners for an empowering birth experience. If there is not an instructor in your area, take the online course. After you have an amazing birth, become an instructor!

4.  Communicate with your partner.  This is an opportunity to grow closer together.  It's not every day you bring a baby into this world.

5.  Hire a doula.  She will help you achieve a drug-free birth.

6.  Know your options.  If your chosen birth place is not natural-birth-friendly, RUN.  If you take the attitude of  "I'll stay with my OB this time and switch to a midwife next time," they may set you on a path of cesareans that will make it harder next time around.

7.  Practice relaxation on a regular basis.  Eat well.  Stay fit.  If you become high-risk because you eat junk food and have a sedentary lifestyle, your plans for an intervention-free birth may go out the window.

8.  Surround yourself with people that believe in YOU!

9.  Don't be afraid to ask the hard questions and read between the lines with your care provider.  If you feel like you are jumping over red flags, you probably are.  As long as the baby is still inside of you, you have options.  Regardless of what you may have heard, it's never too late to switch care providers.

10. Read positive birth stories.  Read - and believe - affirmations that you can do this.  You are strong and capable.  Embrace this experience.  It is yours and yours alone.


Unknown said...

'in REALITY' some women actually dont have time to drive an hour to a hospital. I'm sick of dr's or midwives saying 'oh you'll think it's time but really you will have hours..' I chose to have a natural birth with a midwife. Icalled the hospital and was told to wait an hour. Well 20 minutes later we had a baby in our kitchen. Everyone needsto realize that EVERY birth is unique and there are no set rules. Women should listen to their own body and intuition and not what some so called 'birth expert' tells them.

Janie said...

Unknown - what happened to you is extremely rare and you sound very lucky to me. I'd rather risk a precipitous delivery in my home than an unwarranted c-section at my nearest hospital. The vast majority of women have plenty of time in labor to travel to the place that will best support their birth plan. But yes "gut instinct" trumps "expert" each and every day.

Sara said...

Unknown, I understand where you're coming from, because I was nearly there also. I know that if I had chosen a midwife for my first birth that I would have had the baby at home unassisted. As it was, we barely made it to the hospital. My second birth was planned to be at home and since we knew it would be fast, everyone showed up super quick when the first contraction hit!'s really not common for that to happen. I've been the doula at 5 births now, and although I wish they would go faster, the quickest has been 12 hours. I'm starting to get a little bit of perspective. Just because we have fast births doesn't mean that most women will or do, or that women should be discouraged from using the care provider that will support them best.orlazt