Following up my post on why I chose to have natural childbirth, I thought I would share methods and tips to help one who may be wanting to have a natural birth and avoid pain medications or epidural. Some of these I have personally tried and some I have heard about but have not tried. Let’s get to it…
- Bradley Classes or Hypnobabies – I have not tried these but have heard nothing but good things. You can visit their websites and see if they would be something you are wanting to try and find a class near you.
- Essential Oils – I did purchase some oils for my second birth. Unfortunately, I only got to try out one of them while I was in early labor. I diffused lavender which did help calm and relax me. It kept me in a wonderful mindset and I look forward to trying out other oils in future labors. They can be used for aromatherapy or massage. Be sure to do your research on what oils are appropriate and how to use them.
- Water (Hydrotherapy) – While at home, try taking a shower or bath. Some say it helps relieve pressure and pain. Some hospital and birth centers have water birth tubs. I was not allowed to try for a water birth because my hospital had a policy against VBAC water births. I hope one day I will be able to try using water during labor and/ or delivery.
- Meditation and Visualization – I did both of these the last month of my pregnancy. While in labor I used visualization to keep myself positive.
- Birth Affirmations – these are positive sayings a woman can write on cards and hang around her while in labor or simply say to herself while in labor. My favorite was “the power and intensity of my contractions are not stronger than me because they are me”. This really helped me realize that I will get through it. A simple google search will bring up many pages of birth affirmations.
- Rhythmic Breathing or Moaning – Both of these can be very calming. Instead of holding it in, vocalization during contractions, when a woman lets out a moan (which is vocal breathing) helps calm and release any tension which can help decrease pain during contractions
- Standing & Walking – Both of these uses gravity to the mother’s advantage. For some, it can be more comfortable than lying down and can make contractions more bearable and productive. It also helps baby get into a better position in the pelvis.
- Leaning – forward on your partner, the bed or a birthing ball can help if you are having bad back labor. Getting on your hands and knees can do the same.
- Squatting – Uses gravity to help bring baby down deep into the pelvis. It widens the pelvis and requires less of a bearing down effort to push when delivering baby.
- Birthing Ball – I did use one of these throughout my whole pregnancy and while in labor in the hospital. It helps relieve pressure on the spine and pelvis while at the same time helping to open the pelvis when legs are spread apart while sitting. The mother can slowly sway and rock which can encourage proper rotation and descent for the baby.
- Hot & Cold Compresses – can be used to relieve back aches or pains or help cool mama off when a cool damp cloth is applied to her head.
- Simple Massage or Acupressure – this will depend on the mother. Some don’t want to be touched, some will benefit from massage or touch during contractions.
- Music – many hospitals will have radios or docks for iPods. Make a playlist of songs from all genres as you won’t know what you will be in the mood for. I loved having music while in earlier stages of labor. Music is something important to me and I love to sing. It helped relax me and keep me calm. It was funny when the nurse said she wouldn’t expect Guns n Roses to be playing. Sure, maybe not the most relaxing but it is something I like and is familiar and that’s what worked for me. By the time transition came, I was done with the music and that’s ok too.
- Doula – Although, I chose to not have a doula. MANY women benefit from hiring one. A doula is a woman who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and after labor. She will also help with getting breastfeeding initiated and answer any questions a mother may have regarding to that. Studies have shown that when a doula attends a birth, the labor tends to be shorter with less complications and reduces the chances of postpartum depression.
- Last, and MOST IMPORTANT – Belief in yourself – Know that your body was made to birth your child. Contractions and any pain you may endure, is all normal. Birth is normal. Women have been birthing their babies for centuries and we will continue to do so. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t handle it, aren’t strong enough or crazy for wanting a natural birth. You are strong enough and can birth your baby the way nature intended.
I am sure there are many other comfort measures for a natural birth. What have you tried? Share with me in the comments!