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What Your Doctor Wants To Tell You About Birth, But Can’t

doctorbirth

Too often, medical doctors are portrayed as the bad guys in the birthing world. In truth, there is a lot we don’t see and which they really can’t talk about. We are excited to share this guest post today from Jessicca Moore, a family nurse practitioner and filmmaker in Petaluma, CA. Jessica is currently raising money to help finish a film all about medical personnel who birth at home. (There are more of them than you would think!) You can read more about her film, “Why Not Home?“, on their website. Her words are wise and incredibly helpful. Happy birthing!

If you’re planning a hospital birth in the US, you’re likely seeing an OB/GYN. Some of you are seeing a family doctor or a certified-nurse-midwife (CNM) who will attend you at the hospital.

Doctors and nurses are trained not to impose their own values and beliefs onto their patients. To the woman who says she doesn’t want to feel any pain during labor and wants an epidural as soon as possible, our training tells us to accept this as her choice and support her in it. To the woman who says she wants an unmedicated natural labor, our training tells us to accept and support this choice as equally valid.

Your provider is supposed to maintain some professional distance and remain unbiased toward her patients. Because of this, she likely won’t tell you about how difficult her recovery from her c-section was and how she couldn’t pick up her toddler for weeks.

She won’t tell you about the intense rush of emotion and joy that came over her when she gave birth to her daughter after a long 30 hour unmedicated vaginal birth. If she did, you might feel like you should do it the way she did, or do it differently, depending on her story.

In your 10-15 minute visits, it can be hard to delve deeply into all the possible risks and benefits of each decision, the research, and your personal values and preferences. Even if you did, the chances that that provider is going to be the one attending your birth are pretty slim.

So much of birth is out of your control. Once you’re in labor, things can go any number of ways.

If you want to have a natural birth, here are some things you can do to stack the deck in your favor.

  • Get prepared. There are lots of great childbirth preparation programs out there. Try a few and see what fits. Knowledge is power when it comes to birth.

  • Read birth stories. Positive ones. Listen to your friends who had great births. Focus on those. Your birth can be great too.

  • Get support. Hire a doula. Don’t think you can afford one? Call and talk to a few. You may be surprised. If you can’t get a doula, ask friend who has experienced birth and knows your plan to be there to support and advocate for you. Your partner will be having their own experience. Don’t rely on them to be everything for you.

  • Get informed. What is your hospital’s c-section rate? Trying for a VBAC? What’s the VBAC success rate at your hospital? Birth by the Numbers has a great site for getting this information. www.birthbythenumbers.org

  • Ask questions. Especially if something doesn’t feel quite right. Is the induction necessary? What if we wait 2 more days? It’s your body and your baby. You’re allowed to ask questions.

  • Take care. Rest. Eat well. Stay active. Try prenatal yoga. You’ll be that much better off entering labor if your body is strong and healthy.

Do all that, and then let go. Birth is big. Birth is beautiful. There’s no one right way to do it.

You are powerful. You are capable. You can do it.

If and when you need help, it will be there for you.

No one can tell you how it will go for you.

You and your baby are starting your journey together. You’ll have your own unique experience.

Your doctor may have seen hundreds or thousands of births, but they’ve never seen yours.

Nurture Nature Photography and Erin Wrightsman -c- 2013 erin@erinwrightsman.com  2013040920130409-RRL_0819 (1)

Jessicca Moore is a family nurse practitioner and filmmaker in Petaluma, CA where she lives with her husband, two children, and two sheep. She is currently in production on her first feature-length documentary, “Why Not Home?” The film follows hospital birth providers who chose to give birth at home. You can watch a trailer and get more information here: www.whynothome.com and support the project on kickstarter at bit.ly/whynothome through October 10th.

Follow the project on twitter and instagram @whynothome and facebook at facebook.com/whynothome

You can find Jessicca on twitter @jessicca_moore

(Photos by Erin Wrightsman, used with permission.)

childbirth education

Changing Lives Through Childbirth Education- An Interview With Rebecca Grochowski

childbirth education

Today we want you to meet Rebecca, a natural childbirth teacher in Mansfield, TX. We love our instructors and all the talents they bring to our company as a whole. If you would like to become a childbirth educator, we would love to have you at training! The process is a big one but well worth the effort. You can find more information about becoming a Birth Boot Camp childbirth educator here.

First, could you introduce yourself? Tell us a little bit about your own birth experiences and how they influenced your desire to teach childbirth classes?

My name is Rebecca Grochowski and I am a stay at home mom in addition to teaching Birth Boot Camp. I am married to an amazingly supportive husband who is a bit of a birth junkie himself (though he may not admit it)! I have one beautiful daughte

Rebecca, childbirth educator in Mansfield TX

r named Emma who is 2.5 years old and I’m currently pregnant again. When I was thinking about getting pregnant initially, a church friend had just had a natural birth with a doula. I didn’t even know what a doula was at the time!

I did some research and called her just to chat about preparing for pregnancy, etc. She told me to watch the Business of Being Born. As soon as my husband got home from work that day, we sat down to watch it. That was all it took and I knew I would have a natural birth! We hired a doula and took comprehensive childbirth classes. I had my daughter at Harris Methodist Fort Worth with the UNT Midwives. My awesome husband caught our daughter and it was the best experience of our lives! I feel that my natural birth also allowed us to have a wonderful start to breastfeeding and a very successful breastfeeding experience. After Emma’s birth, I couldn’t get enough information. I loved reading birth books and watching birth videos. That’s when I decided to take my passion to the next level. I applied to be a Birth Boot Camp Instructor and the rest is history. I am really looking forward to the home birth of our next baby sometime in January!

What first got you interested in childbirth?

I have actually always been interested in birth. From the time I was in sixth grade, I decided I wanted to be an OB/GYN. Throughout my later high school years, I actually interned with a local OB/GYN and witnessed several births, including scheduled cesarean sections. I loved it at the time and never really thought anything of it.

Obviously, my life took a different direction which I am very thankful for. It wasn’t until watching the Business of Being Born that I realized that the medical view of birth was not “normal”. After learning more and personally experiencing natural childbirth, I couldn’t wait to share the knowledge!

What are your particular passions concerning birth?

My passion is teaching women that their bodies are made to birth babies. I believe that God made women to birth babies and breastfeed. Our bodies know exactly what to do and they should be allowed to do it. This is true for low risk, healthy moms which make up the majority of pregnant women in our country. Obviously, we live in a very medical, convenience based culture which has led to the high rates of induction and c-sections. It seems from the outside that women have so many choices, which is great. The bad thing is that many women don’t realize that they don’t have to be induced at 39 weeks for no medical reason or that a breech baby doesn’t have to automatically mean a cesarean. I love educating moms and dads so that they have options. The power is in their hands and they can truly make informed decisions about their birth.

There are lots of different childbirth educator training programs out there. Why did you choose Birth Boot Camp?

When I was researching companies to certify with, my personal childbirth education instructor recommended Birth Boot Camp. After looking at the program, it seemed like the perfect fit! I also love that we cover EVERYTHING in these classes. You will walk away with knowledge of pregnancy exercise and nutrition, relaxation techniques, comfort measures, the pros and cons of interventions, stages of labor, newborn procedures, the postpartum period, newborn care, and so much more!

I love that we provide the tools for your toolbox so that you can customize your birth experience. I have always said that every pregnant woman needs a Birth Boot Camp class. Even if you are the mom who wants an epidural in the parking lot, you will still need all of this knowledge so that you can make truly informed decisions!

Tell us a little about your Birth Boot Camp training experience. Where did you train? What did you like about it?

I attended Birth Boot Camp instructor training in October 2013 in Grapevine, TX. It was a wonderful experience! I loved meeting women from all over the country who shared the same passion for birth. I learned so much during the training and we had so much fun. It didn’t feel like work at all!

My husband and daughter came along and had some great bonding time. My husband loved it so much that he is already looking forward to our Birth Boot Camp instructor conference in 2015!

How is teaching your own childbirth classes going for you? What do you enjoy most about it?

I have absolutely loved teaching each class! From multiple couples to private classes, I love getting to know the moms and dads. It is so wonderful to see them working together to achieve their personal birth goals. So far, I’ve had hospital births, birth center births, and home births. Every one has been awesome and I love hearing the birth stories at our reunion!

In what ways did the Birth Boot Camp teacher training help prepare you for teaching actual childbirth classes?

Even though I had learned so much about birth and the curriculum before training, I was still nervous to actually teach. I had previously been a kindergarten teacher, but there is something totally different about teaching adults. We received numerous helpful tips from Donna and Sarah which gave me ideas I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. We also taught a specific topic to the group. That helped get rid of a lot of my anxiety and I received constructive feedback. I still get a little nervous before the first class of each series, but once I meet my couples and we dive in, I absolutely love it! I’m always so amped up after each class is over!

Tell us a little about your students. How do you believe childbirth education is having a positive impact on them?

In each of my classes to date, I have had moms of 1-2 children. Each one of them has been unhappy with aspects of their previous births which is what originally led them to Birth Boot Camp. I have loved watching these couples use the tools they learned to have the birth they’ve always wanted. I recently had a mom with two previous cesareans. She had never birthed a baby vaginally. With the knowledge she gained from Birth Boot Camp, plus an amazing support team of doulas and midwives, she rocked out her VBA2C like it was nobody’s business!

When moms and dads have the knowledge of evidence based practices and their tools for how to cope with labor, they are empowered and end up with great experiences. Even if things don’t go the way they thought, these couples usually still end up feeling good about the birth because they were able to make informed decisions about their care.

To close, tell us how you see natural childbirth education having a positive impact? Why does this work matter to you?

I am very blessed to live in a large community of birth professionals here in Dallas/Fort Worth. I am constantly seeing a positive change because more women are demanding a better standard of care. I love sharing this information with women because it might just mean the difference between a vaginal birth and a cesarean. Knowledge is power and I see the results of that all the time!

Where can we find you?

Rebecca-Grochowski, childbirth instructor, mansfield, TX-BBCI

You can stop by my website: www.tinyblessingsbirth.com. My next childbirth class in Mansfield, TX begins Saturday, November 1 and I hope to see you in it!

 

 

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21 Things Women Are Really Thinking In Labor

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Labor. The BIG day. Birth.

What is a partner to do?! How do you remember it all? How can you make it through with all well and a mama who still loves you?

Here are some fabulous tips from moms who KNOW what a woman in labor needs from her partner. Compiled from our expert birth instructors (who have each had a natural birth themselves) these ideas can help both of you come out better on the other side of your birth.

1. ”Don’t take it personal if I don’t want to be touched or talked to or tell you to be quiet.”

Some women just labor best when left alone. (But don’t plan on this because you never know!)

2. ”Be an active participant.”

Interact, massage, encourage, etc. Get involved. (This sounds contradictory to the last one, doesn’t it?! The truth is, different women want different things and you need to be prepared for ALL possibilities. Don’t assume she will be one way or the other because you really don’t know until you are in it! Your birth class should prepare you for all possibilities.)

3. ”Let me do what works for me!”

If mom wants to play on her phone and it helps her, don’t take it away! There isn’t really a “right” way to cope in labor, as long as mom is happy.

4. ”Don’t leave!”

Stay there–your presence is important.

5. ”For the love of all that is holy, don’t forget your Altoids!”

Breath mints. Do we really have to explain this one? Coffee breath, garlic bread from the night before, that tuna salad you had at lunch, for goodness sakes, brush your teeth or eat a mint!

6. ”PAY FOR A DOULA!”

It is worth it for you AND her.

7. ”When mom asks for something in labor it’s because she NEEDS it (it’s not a want).”

Women in labor have needs. NEEDS!

8. “The relaxation exercises will help dad stay calm in labor so he should practice too.”

You will get lots of relaxation exercises with your birth class. Use them, practice them, get comfortable with them.

9. ”It’s okay to be nervous – most dads are – take a birth class to ease fears!”

10. ”My husband couldn’t think of things to say when I needed him to give me encouragement. He said he hadn’t had his coffee yet. Good thing the baby was born a few minutes later because he was about to get fired! So a list of good things to say to mom if she wants or needs encouragement is really helpful.”

You will talk about this in your birth class, so go home and write them down in the appropriate spot in your workbook! Review them. Then review them AGAIN.

11. ”I will feed off of your energy, so please be confident in me. (My husband was awesome at this!!)”

Sometimes the biggest help is just believing that she can do it when she doesn’t even believe it herself.

12. ”Be completely present with me.“

We make kids put away their distractions at school; possibly the same rule is appropriate for birth! The phone, the work, ESPN, whatever it is that distracts you- it can wait.

13. ”Maybe watching a movie or ballgame during labor will be totally not worth it later and she may never forgive you!”

TRUE STORY.

14. ”Please cry with me when the baby is born. Because I will. And because if you can’t, you’re dead inside.”

(OK- not everybody is emotional or a crier – not even mom. That is fine and understandable. But it is also true that there is nothing wrong with a man being deeply touched and showing it after the birth of his child.)

15. ” Know how to set up and take down the birth pool…before I’m in labor!“

Nothing quite like yelling instructions in between contractions…

16. ”A doula will enhance Dad’s role and at the same time take a lot of stress off him.”

A great doula doesn’t steal the show- she supports everybody there.

17. ”The most important thing (at least for me during my births) was simply his presence and holding his hand. I think sometimes dads feel too much pressure to do stuff beyond their scope…”

Have we mentioned doulas yet?!

18. ”I think for me, at our home birth, it was just like ‘Babe, take beautiful pictures of this amazing experience. Capture the essence of this!’

They’re all blurry.”

(Maybe this tip should be, “Spring for a photographer!”???)

19. ” I always think it’s powerful when dad gives mom a gift after the birth. I am not a gifty person at all, so I don’t know why I feel this way, but after birth for dad to give something special to mom to acknowledge how much she went through to carry and birth their child is really touching. Especially something she can keep forever that has personal significance. Especially for dads that find it hard to be involved in birth in an intimate way or say emotionally intimate things in general. He can just hand it to her and say “Thank you.””

Who wouldn’t love a little bobble for their wrist?

20. ”My husband makes a cheese cake for us to eat after each baby is born. It’s a tradition started by his father. This last time we used our own farm eggs and local blueberries for the topping.“

Awwwww!….Love is a timeless tradition!

21. ”Speak up! We created a birth plan together so remind me of my goals and encourage me to follow through with them, even if I look exhausted or defeated.”

After all the hours of preparation, talking, classes, planning and hard work, don’t let it all fly out the window in labor because you got nervous. You’ve got this! Sometimes a smile and a whispered compliment is just the thing she needs.

We can’t really tell you what your partner will be thinking in labor, but we can tell you one thing for sure–this day matters and you are one of the most important parts of it.

We hope that all women and their partners have an AMAZING birth! The work you put into it beforehand will ultimately pay off because then you WILL know what she is thinking and respond appropriately.

Here’s to a wonderful birth!

Looking for some great books for the partner to read to prepare for your upcoming birth? Here are a few fabulous ideas, in addition to your Field Manual:

The Birth Book by Dr Sears: This book is a classic with helpful hints that anybody can appreciate. With the perspective of both mom and dad thrown in but from one of America’s most trusted physicians, The Birth Book is a must-read and as invaluable as it is readable.

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin: This book is specifically geared for the partner and has a wonderful quick reference section with helpful, illustrated birth positions and much, much more. This is one to pack in your birth bag.

Mind Over Labor by Carl Jones is a short book but packed with information. This book will change the way you view birth!

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From Epidurals To Home Birth- Meet Instructor Hailie in Abilene, TX

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Birth class couples after playing a game to learn how epidurals work in Hailie’s birth class!

We are excited to share with you a series of articles highlighting our diverse group of birth instructors. These are the amazing women who are doing real work trying to make birth better for women and their families all over the world. Today we introduce Hailie Wolfe, a birth teacher in Abilene, TX, mother of five (and kinda famous You-Tuber) who has birthed in so many different ways. In fact, one of her birth videos is featured in our classes! We love Hailie and we are sure you will too. Thanks and enjoy!

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First, could you introduce yourself? Tell us a little bit about your own birth experiences and how they influenced your desire to teach birth classes.

My name is Hailie Wolfe and I own Country Bumpkin Birth Services in Abilene, TX. I have five children – four of them were born in the hospital; three of which were medicated and one was unmedicated.

My medicated births were very standard hospital births. There were several things that I didn’t like about those experiences, but it was years before I realized that how I was made to feel for those births really DID matter. I had some wonderful nurses, but oddly enough, the one I remember most was the one who treated me terribly and that makes me sad. I was given routine episiotomies. I was given the highest pitocin drip on more than one occasion. I thought all of this was “normal”.

When I became pregnant with my 4th child, I decided I wanted to do things differently. At the time, we planned for #4 to be our last baby and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to experience birthing naturally. I came to view it almost as a rite of passage I had missed out on because of my ignorance during my previous pregnancies. When I gave birth naturally, I finally understood WHY it was so important. I had an easy postpartum recovery for the very first time. I was on a birth high for days and felt very empowered.

I enjoyed birth so much that it influenced our decision to add another baby to the family. My fifth child, a surprise breech birth, was born at home in my bath tub. You can watch her birth video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFabMR4sg5g

I was able to have a natural birth with self education, but the whole time I was pregnant with my 4th child I wished there was an accessible class where I could get the information in one place. That inspired me to become a Birth Boot Camp instructor. I wanted women in my community to have easy access to this important information. 

What first got you interested in the realm of birth?

Looking back, I always have had an interest in birth itself. I remember as a teenager being really into watching shows about birth on the Discovery Channel and being disappointed when they didn’t actually show the baby come out. When we had to watch The Miracle of Life in high school health class, I was secretly excited to see what it would look like for a baby to come out.

I’d like to say that I was so inspired by birth that I went into the medical field after high school, but that would be a lie. I didn’t want to go to nursing school because I didn’t want to wipe butts or clean up puke – no gross stuff for me. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that was in the job description for motherhood, because I signed up for that without concern! I became an elementary teacher where I wiped noses and pulled teeth. What can I say? I have a mothers’ stomach.

The point that REALLY got me interested in pursuing birth work was when I went through a very painful induction with my third child and had a terrible recovery. When I decided to go natural with my fourth and I had such a wonderful experience – that was when I really discovered my passion sharing birth with others.

What are your particular passions concerning birth?

Over the last few months, I’m becoming increasingly interested in reaching disengaged dads. I hear birth workers constantly blast dads for thinking birth classes, doulas, etc. are a waste of money. It hits home for me because my husband was one of those dads. He pretty much agreed to hire a doula just to make me happy – but then seeing was believing for him. He was amazed at how much better the experience was when we birthed with a doula. I want to figure out how to reach the skeptical dads like my husband, and I want to reach them before their wives are insisting on having a doula because they’ve been through a bad experience. I’m preparing to host a Doula Dad night soon so that my husband can speak to other dads about the benefits of having a doula. I’m hopeful that hearing another dad’s perspective will encourage others to be more open about birth preparation.

There are lots of different birth educator training programs out there. Why did you choose Birth Boot Camp?

I actually have a dear friend, Megan Martin, who teaches classes in Burleson, TX. When I voiced my interest in Birth Boot Camp she really encouraged me to go for it. I didn’t even do very much research on other programs. The organization is very transparent about their beliefs, which perfectly align with my own birth philosophy. It is clear, concise, and complete, and those are attributes that will truly prepare couples for birth. I knew early on that it was the right program for me to teach

Tell us a little about your Birth Boot Camp training experience. Where did you train? What did you like about it?

I attended Birth Boot Camp instructor training in July 2013 in Grapevine, Texas. I really enjoyed getting to meet and gain knowledge from other woman across the country who share the same passion as me. I love my children with my whole heart, but it was refreshing to stimulate my brain for a few days alongside a great group of ladies.

During my hotel stay for the training, I was roomates with Lauren McClain, creator of MyBreechBaby.org. She taught me so much about breech birth during break times and when we’d stay up late chatting. I remember thinking how great it was that I was learning all this new breech information in preparation for teaching other moms. I never would have dreamed that I would personally be putting all that information to use when I delivered my own surprise breechling just three weeks later. I will never forget Lauren.

How is teaching your own classes going for you? What do you enjoy most about it? 

Each series I’ve taught has gone great! The part I enjoy most is getting to connect with couples and share information that I wish I had known earlier in my birthing years. It makes me feel like I am making a difference. It is also incredibly enjoyable to see dads gradually become more and more engaged in birth preparations. Over the 10 weeks it gets very “real” for them. It’s a neat process to watch.

HAILIEprofile
Hailie with her youngest baby, born at home.

In what ways did the Birth Boot Camp teacher training help prepare you for teaching actual classes?

I was really nervous at instructor training when we had to individually teach a specific topic. It was reminiscent of my elementary teaching days when the principal would come in for observations; judgement from colleagues can be intimidating. BUT, it was completely judgement free with lots of constructive feedback and I even learned new information from some of the other trainees during their presentations.

I also really liked that we practiced relaxation exercises and labor positions in groups. You’d be surprised how difficult it can be to read aloud using a “yoga voice” for the first time ever. It was great practice, though! I was 36 weeks pregnant at the time, so it was super relaxing to be the guinea pig for some of those – I felt like I was getting pampered at the spa!

Tell us a little about your students. How do you believe childbirth education is having a positive impact on them? 

I feel like my students are benefiting so much just from hearing about all the choices they will be making for in preparation for their births. My students almost always leave with a list of questions for their care provider that they would have otherwise never known to ask . I truly feel that it’s also helping the dads be able to connect with the pregnancy on a more meaningful level. As the series progresses, I notice dads becoming more confident in their ability to make joint birth decisions,  and also more confident in their ability to be a good support to their wife on the day of baby’s arrival. Seeing the friendships develop between the couples is great too.

To close, tell us how you see natural childbirth education having a positive impact? Why does this work matter to you?
Specifically in my community, where we have a 37% cesarean rate, I am hopeful that my empowered students will go out into the community and share the impact that education had on their births. I really feel this will lead to more and more couples investing in their births and having more positive experiences. Also, when we as women are educated, we can hold our doctors accountable and at a higher standard. This is the first step in lowering the astronomical cesarean rate in the Big Country.

Where can we find you?
A few different places, actually! Come visit me. I LOVE communicating with moms and dads who are interested in birth!
rockyournaturalbirth

Rock Your Natural Birth…at the Hospital! – Guest Post By Lauren Rauseo

rockyournaturalbirth

Today we have a guest post from Lauren Rauseo. A mother of three and author of the recently published book, “Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama,” we are excited to share her thoughts on some basic things that can help you have an amazing natural birth in a hospital. Her book just happens to mention us as a possible childbirth education option and we couldn’t be more pleased! As you can see, she gives some great advice for getting the birth you want in the hospital, and she manages to do it in a funny, approachable and readable manner. Check out a review of Lauren’s book here and find it on Amazon.

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So you are planning a natural birth. You imagine dimmed lighting and quiet music as you labor, and a peaceful entrance for your baby. The thought of monitors, drugs and a doctor shouting, “Push!” at your va-jay-jay gives you the heebie-jeebies. Maybe you don’t see yourself popping this kid out on your living room sofa, but you long for a more home-like experience.

While the hospital offers comfort that you’re in the right place in the event of an emergency, it also brings a few challenges when preparing for an intervention-free birth. Follow these five tips so that you achieve your goal to go au naturale at the hospital.

1. Choose your hospital and care provider wisely.

This is, hands-down, the most important piece of advice you’ll get. Even if you’ve been with your OB/GYN since you got your first period, you need to interview him like you two just met. What is his C-section rate? What were the reasons for his last 10 surgical births? And since you never know who will be on call on the big day, are the other providers in the practice aligned philosophically? Don’t forget to find out what the hospital policies are as well. How long can your water be broken before the baby needs to be born? Are you allowed freedom of movement during labor? Are different positions encouraged for pushing? What are the monitoring requirements for a low-risk delivery?

Listen to not only what he is saying, but also how he is saying it. If your hunch is that he is not supportive of natural birth, then he probably isn’t. Even if your due date is close, it’s never too late to find a care provider that’s more in line with your birth plan. Consider switching to a midwife. Her expertise lies in trusting a woman’s body to do what it was physiologically designed to do, and not looking for crisis at every turn (but don’t worry; she can recognize warning signs when there is something that requires attention).

If your care provider truly believes in your body’s ability, your natural birth has a much better chance of happening. Your job is to find that care provider.

2. Assemble a supportive team.

Now that you have the right medical crew lined up, you can rest assured that you wont be offered interventions during your birth unless it’s absolutely necessary. (Half the battle has been won already!) But that doesn’t mean you won’t be asking for an epidural yourself when you’ve been in labor for 24 hours and you’re only 4 centimeters dilated.

That’s why you need your birth peeps cheering you on! First, make sure your partner in life is on board with all this natural jazz from the get-go. You both need to see eye-to-eye on your goals, and he’ll need to stand strong as your advocate that day.

But maybe even more important will be your doula, or labor coach. She’s a non-medical birth professional who actually knows what she’s doing and how to be helpful to you in your time of need. She’s seen a lot of these natural births go down, so she’ll know when it’s time to go to the hospital, how much counter pressure to apply to your hips, and why getting on all fours may help baby into a better position.

3. Make a commitment.

Have you ever said you’re going to decide whether you’ll get up early to exercise when your alarm goes off? How often does that strategy work? I’m guessing never. You must commit to your decision and eliminate the option to hit snooze. Likewise, when someone asks you if you’re going to have a natural birth, your answer should be simply, “Yes.” If yours is, “Well, I’m going to see how it goes,” then you have commitment work to do. You need to walk into this adventure with 100 percent confidence that you will do it.

Repeat after me. “My body was made to birth this baby. It will be hard, but I trust this process. I am about to have the best day ever!”

4. Retrain your brain.

Maybe you’re afraid of committing to this because you are terrified of birth! This isn’t surprising. You’ve been trained to be afraid of this event your entire life. How many times have you heard, “Childbirth is awesome! You’re going to love it!”? Zero. Mostly, you’ve been listening to women regale horror stories, and you’ve been watching ridiculous TV that exaggerates the risks and hyperbolizes the pain of childbirth in the name of ratings. You need to stop all that crap. Immediately.

Instead, surround yourself with women who have positive birth stories to share. There are plenty out there! Common themes will include a supportive midwife, an inspirational doula, lots of movement, infrequent (or no) cervical checks, intermittent monitoring, mother-led pushing, immediate skin-to-skin with baby, and overall, an environment where the mother’s voice was heard and respected.

Go places where there are others who are also preparing themselves for an empowering birth. Try a natural-focused childbirth class, and stay away from hospital-based classes, as those will likely center on risks and interventions. Read natural birth blogs and follow them on social media for constant bursts of inspiration. Once you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s easy to commit to your goal. Don’t fear for this birth; get excited for it!

5. Be patient and relax.

Patience begins while you’re still pregnant. Perhaps 41 weeks pregnant. Remember, your baby knows when to be born. Once labor does begin, trust me, you’ll be glad you refined this skill. Your doula will use comfort measures to help you during labor. Maybe she’ll rub your back, let you squeeze her hand, or read birth affirmations aloud. But none of that will help if you’re tense and working against your contractions. In order for your cervix to open, you need to totally let go and release the tension from your body. Think savasana at the end of a yoga class times a hundred; that’s how relaxed you should be. Practice often so that you’ll be able to bring yourself into relaxation more easily on the big day.

Each contraction only lasts one minute or less, even during the hardest part. And I know you can do anything for one minute. Never think about how much longer you have to go. Just breathe into this one contraction you’re having right now.

So there you have it! Are you ready to rock this natural hospital birth? Remember, every moment of this journey is fleeting, and each minute that goes by brings you one step closer to the prize: Your baby. Come on now, you got this.

If you like what you read here, get the whole book, Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama, in paperback or ebook. http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Birth-Mainstream-Mama-practical-ebook/dp/B00I3448X0


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Lauren Rauseo is a work-from-home mom to Dylan, Liv and Fiona. Her favorite things are going for walks with the kids to collect “treasures” and singing in the car, and she isn’t afraid to admit that Starbucks, manicures, wine and yoga make the list too. Now that she’s done birthing her own brood, she has moved on to sharing her enthusiasm for natural birth with others through her book, “Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama: A practical guide to achieving a drug-free birth in a hospital setting”, available on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Birth-Mainstream-Mama-practical/dp/1494415321). You can follow Lauren at www.facebook.com/MainstreamMama.

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