I get asked quite a bit if I’m planning a home birth. This time around my answer is no. However, I am using a midwife and pursuing an all-natural birth in a certified baby-friendly hospital. (Baby-friendly means they place high priority on mother/baby bonding and breastfeeding support.)
So while Ryan and I will likely go for a home birth the next time around, I am still using several of the same methods to support a natural birth in a hospital setting. Some of the things I am doing are being done now as preparation for labor. Others are tips and tricks I’m using during labor.
6 ways to prepare for a natural birth
Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
This wonder tea high in vitamin C, E, and D is known to speed up labor by improving the effectiveness of contractions. It tones muscles used during labor and delivery and reduces pain. Plus, it helps the uterus return to normal size. Raspberry leaf tea also balances postpartum hormones and helps bring in breast milk for many women.
Drink one cup of tea per day starting in the second trimester. You should always check with your healthcare provider and do a little research before brewing as there are some precautions. It should be avoided if you’ve had extremely short previous labors, are planning a cesarean, or have had a premature labor. Just to name a few.
Not only is staying active during labor important (walking, swaying, moving and listening to your body) to help baby move through the birth canal, staying active prior to labor pays dividends. Keeping your body in motion during pregnancy significantly reduces the chances of medical interventions like the use of forceps or C-sections. Plus, it can shave time off your labor.
The advice I was given when I expressed how natural of a birth I wanted was to do 50 squats a day. Pregnancy yoga can even do wonders. Find out what works best for you during pregnancy. Maybe do a little gardening?
Have a Supportive Team
Whether you are going for a natural birth at home, birth center, or hospital, having a supportive group around you is vital. Having our baby in a place where the healthcare provider supported my vision of a natural birth was crucial. Ask all the questions your heart desires and make sure that you have found the best fit for you. Bringing a doula on board is a great way to ensure that you’ll have adequate support and coaching for a natural birth. Choose the people you want in the room wisely so you can be in the most comforting and encouraging environment possible (i.e. partner, parent, sibling, a friend).
Water, Water, Water
From what I know, water is your pregnancy’s bff. Drinking plenty of water facilitates the flow of nutrients through the body to your baby. It promotes a healthy amniotic sack and hydrates your body which helps you to prevent water retention. Hydration is the key to it all. It promotes full-term birth and reduces the rate of instrumental births. By taking sips of water between contractions, you are naturally supporting your body for the hard work that is labor. It also keeps you off an IV if that is something important to you.
Aside from consuming H2O, water is great to use to ease the pain of contractions. Stand in the shower, letting the beads of water hit your back, or lounge in a warm tub for a bit of relief. And of course there is water birth, which some women swear by for its comfortable and relaxing qualities.
We love essential oils around here, from tick repellent to headaches and so much more. So why not utilize them during labor? Especially since they can help achieve and aid in a calmer natural birth. Here are some of the common recommended oils for a natural birth and what they do:
- Lavender– Relaxes and eases muscles. Good for massages during labor. Diffuse to evoke calmness.
- Clary Sage– (To only be used during labor) Put a few drops on your inner ankles to encourage more effective contractions. It can be used to naturally induce labor as well as to soothe discomforts during labor.
- Rose– Softens ligaments to allow your pelvis to expand for baby to pass through and has a cleansing effect on the uterus. Put a few drops in a bath or use with a massage on the lower back or abdomen.
- Peppermint– By rubbing the oil on the lower back or abdomen it can encourage a breech or posterior baby to turn in the optimal birthing position. It’s used to ease nausea and (as I heard in a recent podcast) can help you relieve your bladder by placing a few drops in the toilet during labor. Even more, it gives a tired, laboring woman strength when inhaled.
- Jasmine– (To only be used during labor) Used to induce labor and stimulate/strengthen contractions. Diffuse to evoke feelings of peace, self-confidence, and joy.
Believe in the power of positive thinking. Post sticky-notes or make a board with positive sayings like, “my body was made to do this” to help get you through tough times in labor. Along with positive affirmations, have your baby’s clothes, blanket, or favorite ultrasound image out to keep you encouraged and determined.
One thing I have been told by many is to be flexible with your birth plan. As much as I hate it, I know that anything can happen during labor. All I can do is be prepared for the all-natural birth I’m striving for, while staying open to things not going exactly to plan.
I’ve not only been telling myself positive things but sending the same encouragement to my unborn daughter. At least I have these six tools in my pocket for successfully pursuing a natural birth. As a matter of fact, I should probably go do some of those 50 squats now…