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What You Should Know About Natural Birth
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, natural birth is
“a system of managing childbirth in which the mother receives preparatory education to remain conscious during and assist in childbirth with minimal or no use of drugs or anesthetics”
Natural childbirth is nothing to be afraid of. It is a wonderful experience and can take place in three places. Home, a birthing center and the hospital.
It was not until the 1900s that women began to give birth in hospital, until then women gave birth at home. The website Midwifery Today.com has articles to help anyone considering a home birth. Concretely ‘The Home birth Choice’ talks about the specifics of why one considers home birth, who participates, the midwife, prenatal visits and how the midwife deals with complications.
“Women may prefer a home birth to a hospital birth for a variety of reasons, including a desire for a low-intervention birth in a familiar environment surrounded by family and friends, and cultural or religious concerns.” According to the Center of Disease Control.
Most women in the United States choose to give birth in a hospital. However, it has its challenges. Having an unmedicated birth in a hospital is difficult if you don’t do your research. You must choose the right obstetrician with low intervention and caesarean section. He/she must also not be too worried if your baby goes past the due date. It is not unusual for a baby to go to 42 weeks because obstetricians base the date on your menstrual cycle and not the date of conception.
It is also important to research different hospitals, go around the hospital and check how ‘home-like’ the birthing rooms are, as well as collect caesarean section and intervention statistics. When you visit hospitals, would you like to know their policies on allowing skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately after birth, and do they allow the baby to be with the mother? These experiences are something that a mother who gives birth at home will experience. The baby bonds faster and breastfeeding is easier.
Giving birth in a birthing center allows the woman to have a home birth in an environment similar to a hospital. Women who are not comfortable having a home birth and don’t want the stress of giving birth in a hospital typically choose a birthing center if one is available in their area. It is also a great way to have a home birth experience in states where it is illegal to have a home birth.
How to prepare for a natural birth?
Having a drug-free birth is not something a woman goes into and says “I want to try that”. It’s as silly as waking up one day and saying “Today I’m going to run a marathon”, except you don’t have the right running shoes and you’ve never run a day in your life.
First, you need to decide where you want to give birth. Who do you want to deliver your baby and interview many professionals explaining to them that you want a drug-free birth and assembling your team to help you achieve this goal.
Then research what childbirth classes are available (not classes at the hospital, they don’t adequately prepare you for a drug-free birth). There are three well-known childbirth education methods. Lamaze, The Bradley Method, Hypnobabies. Each has a website and a way to find a tutor near you.
Next, you will interview and hire a doula. A doula is a professional who comes with you and your partner/husband to guide you through labor and birth. She does not replace the partner/husband, but helps them.
A doula is also a consistent support for the laboring mother. When you give birth in a hospital, the nurses come and go to help other patients, and the obstetrician may call in for updates, but probably only shows up to catch the baby. There is no constant support for the mother, which is why a doula is so important.
A doula also helps the mother with relaxation techniques and helps to secure the mother along the way. Should a situation arise where information is needed to make a decision, the doula will help the birthing mother and partner/husband get all questions answered by the medical staff. She in no way makes decisions for or speaks to the medical staff on their behalf.
A doula will meet with you several times before your due date, assist with labor/delivery, assist with breastfeeding, and visit the mother after the birth to review how the birth went and assist the mother in any way she may need. She is an asset to your birth team and will support how you want to give birth.
Finally, practice relaxing. This cannot be emphasized strongly enough. Relaxation is the key to your body opening up and allowing the baby to descend and be born. Spend at least an hour every day listening to relaxing music and practice relaxing your entire body. So from your toes to your head, take each area, tighten it up and release. This helps you learn that you are in control of your body and that you can relax. Relaxation is the key to a successful birth without medication.
Remember that labor and labor are not suffering pain. Contractions are increases. The pain you experience is manageable, it just requires relaxation and concentration (and as few distractions as possible). It takes an extreme amount of mental control to realize that with every passing wave, you’re getting closer to meeting your sweet baby. You can do it, but preparation is not only recommended, but necessary.
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