Thursday, October 13, 2011

A (general) guide to planning for your natural birth

Several friends have come to me with questions soon after finding out they are pregnant.  I decided I could post my advice here in hopes to help when deciding what you need to do once your shock and excitement has worn off of your news of pregnancy.

I find birth absolutely fascinating and am a self proclaimed birth junkie.  I would love to train to become a childbirth educator and truly hope to do so sometime within the relatively close future.  I hope this post will give you a guideline to what you should do to plan for your birth.  And obviously, I'm no expert.  I'm just posting my experience and advice which I hope is helpful.

1.  Read, read, read!!!  There are tons of resources for expectant moms.  Lots of them focus on the baby and what to actually do with your newborn.  Those are great and helpful, especially if you have never dealt with a newborn, but they are not what I'm talking about here.  You need to read information on your pregnancy including diet, fitness, development of your changing body and your baby.  I started my reading with Husband Coached Childbirth.  This is written by Dr. Bradley and should be read by your husband (or coach) as well.  A lot of my advice is based off of The Bradley Method because that is what we studied.  There are other methods so do your research and decide what is a best fit for you!  After reading Husband Coached Childbirth I suggest reading Natural Childbirth The Bradley Way.  This book helps with knowing what you will actually do when you are in labor.  It gives you a great amount of information about each stage of labor along with "signposts" of labor which tell a great deal about where a woman is in her labor based on her emotions and actions.  Knowledge is power and I really found great strength in being educated about what was actually happening when I was in labor and knowing that this was normal!  I find a coached method to be wonderful because when you are actually in labor you cannot be mentally assessing where you are and critiquing every little thing.  This is where your coach comes in!  He is educated as well and knows what is happening better than you do.  He can reassure you!

2.  Watch documentaries.  The Business of Being Born is by far my favorite documentary on birth.  It is incredibly eye-opening.  It does a great job of explaining some major flaws in the American system of Labor and Delivery.  I first saw the movie when it first came out and was shown at our local library.  I was interested in birth before I was even married or close to having a baby.  I invited a bunch of my friends to go with me and one by one they backed out thinking I was crazy for being interested in birth already.  I ended up going alone and I'm so glad I went.  I left feeling empowered and excited about birth!  Another popular documentary is Pregnant in America.  At one point both were instant view on Netflix, so check it out!  Even if you aren't pregnant, watch it just because!  And make your boyfriend/friends/husband/etc. watch it as well!

3.  Now that you've educated yourself on birth and you understand what you are looking for in your birthing experience you need to take a class.  I would not suggest taking the birthing class at your local hospital which is just going to tell you how to be a good patient, explain hospital protocol, and give you a tour of your labor room.  I'm talking about an actual class with a natural childbirth educator.  You will benefit so much from taking a class.  There are several options as far as classes go.  You could take The Bradley Method, Hypnobabies, Birthing from Within, Lamaze, etc.  Just do your research and decide which is a best fit for you and what is available in your area.  These classes aren't that expensive and will benefit you greatly.  We chose to study Bradley for several reasons.  I love that it's a coached method and gets your husband involved!  It becomes a bonding experience for the two of you.  Kurt is the person I trust most in this life so why wouldn't I want him to be the one to help me through my labor?  And after-all, I was having his baby! ;)  Bradley educates you on nutrition.  Our classes also covered common interventions and educated you on the risks/benefits of them.  We discussed birth plans, breastfeeding, postpartum, etc.  We learned affirmations and how to  relax.  Relaxing is something you think you can just wing but practicing with your coach turns out to be very important and it helped us tremendously.  Kurt felt prepared to be my coach. I felt prepared to go through labor.  I was able to relax with the help of my coach and my doulas (my mom and sister).

I hope this posts helps you to know what to do to begin learning and planning for your birth.  This is just a basic outline of the steps you should take to begin preparing.  I'll go ahead and dedicate it to a dear friend who called me this week with questions.  Maybe it's more for me than for you.  Now I have a guide to share instead of babbling on and on about all things birth.  Wishing you all the birth of your dreams!  :)

The Birth Junkie

1 comment:

  1. Love this. Never knew there were so many different methods to birthing. Also, I totally would've gone with you to see the business of being born! I love that documentary. I also want to see Orgasmic Birth. It looks interesting.