So your plan is to have a vaginal birth. Doesn’t seem unreasonable considering women have been doing it since the beginning of time. However, it isn’t always a given. With today’s advanced medical innovations, the ways women give birth has varied over the years based on technology, education as well as trends and beliefs.
And it goes in waves; what may be popular at one time, may be completely different a few years later. But at the end of the day, a vaginal birth is optimum in a non-complicated pregnancy and should be the goal unless otherwise directed by a medical professional based on medical reasons. So what can you do to ensure your best chances of giving birth vaginally?
Form Your Team
From prenatal classes and hospital choices to Midwives and Doctors everyone has a different philosophy, so look for ones that promote vaginal births. The first and most important thing to do is find a health care provider, be it a Doctor or Midwife that supports your goal to have a vaginal birth from both a medical point of view and a personal one. Of course there may be medical complications that prevent it, but even so, you can always get a second opinion just to be sure.
Once you have found your main health care provider who supports your goal, seek out prenatal classes that give you experienced information that is presented in an unbiased manner. This should ideally include a bit of background on the process of labour so you understand the physiology behind one of nature’s miracles. It should also cover natural coping strategies as well as medical forms of pain relief, as well as strategies to help you prepare for the early days with your new baby. Make sure your teacher is a Midwife with plenty of experience in all areas of obstetrics.
Hiring a Midwife or Doula to work along side your Doctor is also an option. Research shows that this type of support during labour can reduce your chance of needing medical interventions such as an emergency c-section. Studies have also shown that the more relaxed a woman is during labour and delivery the quicker and more uncomplicated the process. A Midwife or Doula can offer that extra bit of emotional support and guidance to help alleviate the stress and anxiety during labour and delivery. See my blog on Doula and Midwives. (provide a link)
Last but not least find a support team of friends, family and professionals and surround yourself with them. Seek out those that support your goal to have a vaginal birth and keep them around you. Being around those who are against it, or constantly share their difference in opinion, will only stress you out and give you bad energy.
You can start preparing for your vaginal birth even before you are pregnant! For women who are not overweight labour tends to go more smoothly, with less complications and requires fewer interventions. So it’s wise to start watching your diet as soon as you are thinking of getting pregnant. The earlier a habit is started the easier it is to maintain. And your good nutrition should continue throughout your pregnancy and after birth. Your body will need all the nutrients it can get to have the energy you need for labour and delivery, not to mention taking care of a newborn.
Partner your good nutrition with exercise and you’ve got a winning combination. Your chances for a successful vaginal birth increase by being physically fit. And like nutrition the earlier you start the better. See my blog on “Exercise and Nutrition-the perfect combo”(add link). Not only will the right forms of exercise keep your weight at a healthy, manageable level it will also make you stronger, increase your stamina and flexibility. And chances are you’ll need all the stamina you can get- they don’t compare labour to a marathon for no reason! If you are not sure about which forms of exercise are right for you, speak to an experienced professional. As a general rule, aim to exercise on most days of the week and mix cardio, strength and flexibility training.
Now it’s not something you do every day, but you must prepare your perineum. Make sure that your prenatal classes focus on this topic, and if not, don’t hesitate to ask your Midwife or Doctor about it. One way to prep is to do perineal massage. Applying outward pressure to the perineum and massaging it will increase the blood flow as well as the elasticity. When performed correctly it can reduce the risk of perineal tears as well as episiotomy; it will also make birthing your baby less of a shock to your body. If the thought or the act of perineal massage freaks you out, there are great birth training products out there such as the EPi-No you can try as well.
Once your labour has started there are a few things you can do to move it along towards a vaginal birth. First of all get up and move. And I don’t mean to the hospital. Studies show the longer a woman labours at home the shorter and less complicated her birth is. This is where extra support from a Doula and/or a Midwife can come in handy. Labour, especially first labours, take awhile so instead of sitting on the couch counting your contractions it is best to follow your body’s lead and move around when you feel like moving, rest when you feel tired and eat and drink when you need an energy boost. When it comes to moving there is no need to take a class or perform any fancy poses; simply keep in mind the good old law of gravity. If you have access to water, get in it. The warm water (not hot) will help relax your muscles, lessen the weight on your spine and joints, help you relax and relieve some of the labour pain. This will help ease you into further labour in a more relaxed and prepared state.
One of the great secrets of a vaginal birth is being able to relax in response to pain- “Oh is that all!” you are probably thinking. But it can be done. Start practising mindfulness early on if not before you are pregnant. Focusing on one particular moment rather than what’s coming can help you deal with things, especially pain, as you know it will pass and you are “mindful” of that. Again this is when a Midwife or a Doula can be especially beneficial in guiding you and keeping your mind focused.
Remember complications are the exception, not the rule. So go in with a positive mindset thinking, “I can do this”. The pelvis and vaginal tissues were built for birth, your brain releases endorphins to help you cope and the baby is designed to pass through the vaginal canal, so biologically most of us are perfectly designed for this job. It may be hard to believe when you are staring at your huge belly wondering how the baby will ever fit out, but don’t worry you’ve got this. And if it turns out that a vaginal birth isn’t for you for whatever medical reason, know that you’re in a safe place to go for an alternative option.
“Any quotes from mums pregnancies” L Muma to Max and Julie
If you’ve read this blog to the end, you may also be interested in reading about medically induced labour, what the term ‘natural birth’ really means, and an alternative to ‘birth plans’.
To find out more information regarding pregnancy and newborn babies, go check out Urban Hatch’s online prenatal and postnatal classes, HATCH™ today!
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