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Deep down, I think every woman secretly wants a natural birth, whether she’ll admit it or not. There is something sacred, something wildly feminine about birthing a baby with no drugs.

I did birth a baby this way, although, not by choice. I wanted the epidural SO BADLY but it was my third baby and there just wasn’t time.

And now that it’s over and done with? I’m super proud I did it and got to experience it. It’s not as bad as you think. This list was written for those that are planning ahead for a natural birth, the ones that want to be prepared for what’s in store.

Make sure you do prepare for all possible situations because you never know what might happen during your labor! Even if it scares you, read up on c-sections. Check out the facts on epidurals. And learn some seriously awesome natural birthing techniques that this list has to offer.

Don’t go in blindly!

TIPS FOR A NATURAL BIRTH:

KNOW YOUR ‘WHY’

Why do you want to have a natural birth? You need to have a strong why, a guiding star that you can feel deep inside you for when things get crazy.

And get crazy, they will.

So just saying ‘it would be cool to have unmedicated birth’ is probably not going to get you through the pain of childbirth.

Find a why that sends shivers down your spine when you whisper it to yourself. 

DON’T BE SET ON A NATURAL BIRTH

There are so many variables when it comes to giving birth. You may need to have a c-section. You might end up getting the epidural. You are NO LESS of a freaking amazing WOMAN for either happening.

So hope for, plan for, prepare for a natural birth.

But mentally prepare to just go with the flow and not beat yourself up whichever way that flow ultimately goes.

START PREPARING LONG BEFORE YOU GO INTO LABOR

Giving birth is kind of like a marathon. You can’t just show up on race day and run 26.2 miles. You gotta train and take it seriously. The same goes for birthing your baby. It may be long, it’s way more intense than a marathon and you need to be ready.

I am so guilty of NOT preparing.

With my first baby, I didn’t exercise and ate Mcdonald’s almost every single day. This is why I learned the importance of preparing!

With my second baby, I was running/lifting weights almost the whole pregnancy and eating a plant based diet.

The difference was night and day! Easier pregnancy, shorter labor, shorter pushing and WAY easier recovery. 

You don’t need to go crazy and try to start a vigorous exercise routine and if you haven’t been very active, no worries! Check out some of these safe pregnancy exercises to ease into or find something that you love (and is safe!) to do for the rest of your pregnancy.

RELAX YOUR MUSCLES

It seems counter-intuitive to relax your muscles when your body is going through the most intense muscle contractions it will ever go through, but-

Relaxing in labor will cause your body to work better.

Relaxing will also cause the hormones that help you cope and make your labor progress will release more readily. 

RELATED: HOW TO RELAX DURING LABOR

READ INA MAY GASKIN’S GUIDE TO CHILDBIRTH

This book should be read by every woman who gives birth, regardless of wanting an epidural or not! For some reason, we all love to focus on ‘horror’ stories when it comes to birth. Ina May shows how childbirth is not only beautiful, it doesn’t have to be something to fear.

The positive stories in the beginning of the book will help to put your mind at ease. Do yourself a favor and get this book if you are at all frightened of giving birth!

CONSIDER A DOULA

Did you know that the word doula actually means women’s servant in Greek? Not that they have to wait on you hand and foot, but a doula is there to be your physical, emotional and spiritual support. You can call them with questions right up until the big day and during labor they will coach you through.

This study actually shows that having a doula reduces the cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labor by 25% and the requests for an epidural by 60%!

SPEND EARLY LABOR AT HOME

If this is your first baby, it can be be so freaking confusing as to what early labor is and what it feels like! With my first baby, my water broke (barely) and we went into the hospital WAY too early. I wasn’t even having contractions! They kept having to test to see if my water even did break (I was like- yeah, no, dude, I didn’t pee myself thanks.) When they did find out it had, indeed, broken, I was induced because I was Group B positive.

Had I known what I know now, I would’ve stayed at home and had labor progress naturally.

If you can talk through your contractions- don’t head in quite yet. Early labor can last as long as a day or two, start and then stop.

When contractions are regular and strong and 4-5 minutes apart, coming for 1-2 hours- call your doctor. If this isn’t your first pregnancy, call when contractions are 10-15 minutes apart!

Conserve your energy, eat light snacks and meals and try to relax as much as possible before you start going into active labor. 

RELATED: SIGNS OF APPROACHING LABOR

USE WATER

A warm bath or shower can do wonders for helping you through intense contractions. If you are at the hospital, request a warm birthing tub to try to relax in.

Communicate this to your birthing partner or doula beforehand in case you forget in the throes of labor.

KEEP A POSITIVE MINDSET

No matter what happens- at the end of it all, you get to meet your beautiful baby.

And there IS an end.

It can be really hard to keep that in mind when the contractions are coming fast and strong, you’re not just tired- you’re completely wiped out  and no one is telling you to “push” yet.

TAKE IT 60 SECONDS AT A TIME

Is anyone else obsessed with 21 Day Fix?

“You can do anything for 60 seconds!”

I love that because it’s so true! Take the time between contractions to gear up for the next contraction which will last about 60 seconds.

If you can try to keep it in mind, it may be easier to get through the contractions.

USE AROMATHERAPY

Essential oils have been used for hundreds of years for all sorts of things, childbirth being one of them.

Evidence Based Birth looked into some studies and broke down the most beneficial oils by these categories-

Lower Pain Scores:

Reduced Anxiety/Stress:

Decreased Length of Labor:

Decreased Nausea and Vomiting:

Clary Sage essential oil has also been used to calm yourself down and increase the intensity of contractions, shortening the labor process. I use it every single pregnancy once I’m past 37 weeks to try to induce labor and stimulate contractions. 

It works to either drop a couple drops on a cotton ball and inhale or mix some in a carrier oil and rub directly on your belly.

 

RESEARCH BREATHING TECHNIQUES

Breathing is so so important but you won’t realize until labor is happening just how important it is. Having some breathing techniques down helps you to:

  • Feel in control
  • Get more oxygen to your baby and muscles
  • Remain more calm
  • Respond more positively to the pain

You can learn about patterned breathing here.

Mother Rising has a step by step technique you can practice while holding an ice cube, you can find that here.

ASK FOR A MASSAGE

If you have a doula, she will know certain techniques to use during labor. You can ask it of your birth partner as well. Watch some videos together and practice before the big day!

CHANGE POSITIONS

Changing positions during labor can actually make you more comfortable and the contractions bearable. The positions you can try are:

  • Walking/standing
  • Sitting upright
  • Semi sitting
  • Using a birthing ball
  • Kneeling
  • Side lying
  • Squatting

Click here for printable PDF’s of these positions with more info!

STAY PRESENT

I know, you want to get away so badly. How could you want to stay present for the worst pain of your life?

It will help so much to stay where you are, in the minute that you are in. Wishing for it to end will only make it worse because you will start yearning for it to end and it will become unbearable.

Stay present, stay focused on where you are at.

LEARN HOW TO SQUAT

Squatting is so beneficial during labor. Not only can it reduce the pain of contractions, it can open your pelvis and use gravity to coax your baby down the birth canal.

This study shows that even though squatting for delivery can be beneficial, you do need to use a proper proper birthing chair for perineal support.

 

Having a natural birth is something that, frankly, scared the shit out of me. After having done it, I can sincerely tell you that although it is the most intense thing you’ll ever do, it is not something to fear. You will get to experience a side of yourself that would never have seen the light of day. You will get to go primal. Embrace that primal side and make it birth a fucking baby for you! You got this❤

Trust yourself, research and above all else, know that it’s okay if a natural birth doesn’t work out for you. So many of us mommas start out ALREADY feeling guilty, even before we’ve brought our new baby home. Hell, the moment we see the second line on the pregnancy test! Let the guilt go. Whether you have a natural birth, an epidural or a c-section, just know that you did it ❤

 

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