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.
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 won‘t 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
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. You can follow Lauren at www.facebook.com/MainstreamMama.