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Top Ten Ways to Increase Your Chances of a Natural Childbirth

Learn how to stack the odds in your favor!

Many women want to have a natural childbirth and the good news is: Your body already knows just what it needs to do! Many times, it’s not so much as new information you must acquire as much as it is forgetting all the negative messages we’ve been receiving since we are very young. With the right preparation, information and support team (midwife, doula, acupuncturist, etc.) you can significantly increase your chances for a normal, unmedicated birth and decrease the likelihood of the need for medical interventions.

ONE: Don’t underestimate the importance of your doctor or midwife’s overall philosophy, which will significantly affect your birth experience. Does your caregiver believe childbirth is a sickness that needs to be treated or that giving birth is a normal, natural and healthy event ? Think twice about hiring the caregiver who has a 50% cesarean rate… Know who you’ve chosen by asking plenty of questions.

TWO: Ask your doctor or midwife what their protocol is once your water breaks. In my opinion this one question is THE MOST important question to ask.

Under the medical model, doctors are trained that babies must be born within 24 hours of your water breaking. Midwives have a different paradigm they’ve learned whereby mothers may be given up to 72 hours (with very close supervision) without medical intervention. Ask your caregiver for more information.

This one major difference in approach to labor can make a HUGE difference in the outcome of your experience and may mean the difference between a cesarean vs. natural, vaginal birth.

THREE: Get lots of exercise. Evidence based studies have shown that women who exercise have shorter, faster and less painful births.

THREE: Attend a childbirth class early on. Lamaze and Bradley classes are just a few of the many different options available to you. Take one, two or as many courses that resonate with you, and also take the time to practice what you know. This creates an imprint onto your subconscious mind so that when you go into labor you instinctively know what to do.

FOUR: Consider hypnotherapy to prepare for childbirth. Many women have used hypnosis to achieve “painless childbirth”. Even if your labor isn’t completely painless, it still will have served a vital role. Women who practice hypnosis experience faster and more comfortable labors. They also feel less anxiety in the days and months leading up to the birth. It is just one more tool in your bag of tricks once labor has started.

A major benefit of hypnosis is that it trains your mind to relax through your contractions. Your cervix is an involuntary muscle that can do its job (which is to open and birth your baby) much, much more effectively the more relaxed you are. The more tense you are, the more difficult it is to dilate.

FIVE: Take primrose oil starting at 36 weeks. Primrose oil has been shown to help ripen the cervix well before labor starts.

SIX: Acupuncture. I am a HUGE fan of acupuncture and used it many times during both of my pregnancies. Not only does it help your body during the pregnancy, it can be used to help with fear and anxiety. If your labor stalls, acupuncture can be an invaluable tool to help move things along and kick things into gear. Studies have shown that women who receive acupuncture during pregnancy also have shorter, faster, easier labors compared with those who don’t.

SEVEN: Make sure you are well hydrated and have adequate nutrition – this will help your tissues stretch and can help to minimize, if not avoid altogether, tearing or the need for an episiotomy (which is outdated anyway.)

EIGHT: Watch positive videos of other women in labor. Not only will this help to counter-act all the negative messages you’ve most likely been bombarded with from the media, it will also help you become familiar with what labor really looks and sounds like (not what some director thinks it should sound like to make a more dramatic scene).

NINE: Hire a doula. Women with doulas have shorter, faster, easier labors and a 50% reduced chance for a Cesarean birth.

TEN: Hire a midwife instead of a doctor. Midwives are trained to handle normal, healthy birth. They believe that normal unmedicated birth is not only possible, but your god-given right. And if you think you may want an epidural, look for a midwife who works in a hospital. In this scenario you have all the benefits and support of a midwife and medical intervention in the event you choose to use it.

The name of the game is not to have an unmedicated birth at all cost. It’s about letting the woman decide what is best for her. As a lactation consultant, doula and childbirth educator, my philosophy is to give a woman all the information and support possible and let her make her own choices. And if you do decide to have an epidural, or it turns out that medical intervention was appropriate, good for you! Be thankful that help was available; be proud of your choices and don’t fall into an unnecessary guilt trip.

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