In response to my recent post on Midwives and Home Birth, Chelsea shared the following:
I was considering natural child birth with my first, but I ended up getting an epidural. Why? Because everyone in my family ( except for my hubby, who always believed in me) was telling me how I could not endure the pain associated with natural child birth. By the time I was ready to have him, my mind was full of so much fear that had been spoken to me by well meaning people, I doubted myself! How are you able to combat these people, if you do not mind me asking?
Chelsea, I know you are not the only mama who has gone into the last phase of pregnancy- the actual birth of your baby- facing fears and misgivings about laboring him into this world! I think every mama dreads that brief, albeit intense, transition between being an expectant mother and a mother with a tiny bundle in her arms.
Natural child birth is a subject very close to my heart. I’ll gladly share my own thoughts and experiences here, but please note: It’s never my intent to suggest that my ideas are “right” or that every woman should have a home birth, or even a natural birth. Child birth is a deeply personal subject and each decision should be made privately between a woman and her husband.
That being said, here’s my take on natural child birth!
Facing the bare truth
First of all, the only “hang up” most of us have with natural child birth is that little four-letter “P” word, P-A-I-N. Laboring a baby into this world hurts. Intensely.
Believe it or not, there are some who try to downplay the discomfort involved in childbirth. Several years ago, I read an article in a secular magazine that claimed a mother could all but obliterate birthing pains by imagining they weren’t there. The author (who apparently was a New Age guru of some sort) shared how, in the midst of her son’s natural birth, she imagined her “baby slipping from her body on a blue, satin ribbon.”
Um, I don’t think so. THAT DOES NOTHING FOR THIS MAMA!
I’m three weeks (approximately) from the birth of our fourth child. To be completely honest, I’m NOT doing cartwheels (for obvious reasons, but I’m just sayin’) as I anticipate laboring for hours, with no pain meds, to birth this baby into the world.
There’s nothing wrong with being honest about child birth. It’s painful. It’s intense. It can be scary. But God knew all that when Eve brought the woe of childbirth upon womankind… and He will never put more upon us than we can handle. As Kristy Quinn commented on this post, “Our bodies were made for having babies.”
Ask yourself WHY NOT?
Chelsea, you mentioned catching some flack over your desire to have a natural childbirth. While I have never had my family question my decision, I did meet with a lot of doubt- and pressure- from my doctor.
Let me briefly say, I had an epidural with our first baby. I learned the hard way that my body DOES NOT respond favorably to anesthesia. I had many of the side effects of the epidural and very few of the “perks”. My experience, along with health considerations, was enough to convince me that I wanted to “go natural” the next time around.
Toward the end of my pregnancy with our second baby, I told the doctor that I wanted a natural birth. That didn’t go over too well. I guess my doc thought I was plain weird or something; she informed me that women “in this century” don’t need to “squat in a field” to have their babies. I’m a bit stubborn by nature (ahem) and I ended up with a natural birth anyway. 🙂
Here are a few tips if you’re learning toward a natural birth and struggling with doubts, fears, or naysayers:
- Make your decision with your husband. If he is supportive of a natural child birth, and you want to go that route as well, then consider the subject closed. Inform those who ask that, barring complications or a medical emergency, you and your husband are planning for this baby to be born natural and drug-free. Be decisive- after all, you’re the mama!
- Don’t make your decision based on mere opinions- yours or anyone else’s. Be informed. Research the subject, talk to other mamas who have gone the natural route, read up on possible health implications of the drugs commonly used in birth, weigh the issue in your own mind and come to your own conclusion based on facts. Ask God for wisdom. I believe that, in many instances, knowledge is power. It’s not easy to intimidate a mama who knows her stuff.
- Be choosy about who is at the birth with you. Don’t be intimidated into allowing someone to attend the birth who doesn’t think you can (or should) have the baby naturally. Again, get your husband’s support on this and don’t be afraid to say no.
Medical intervention is indeed a blessing when needed… but is it really necessary to have medical intervention for every birth? (I’m talking about drugs here, not life-and-death situations that call for intervention.) Decide if you think it’s necessary or not, then stick with your decision.
It’s not an issue of “right” or “wrong”, but if you want a natural birth (for whatever reason) then go for it! You CAN DO it! Quit asking yourself, How and Why and What if… start asking yourself, Why not?
Coping with the pain.
Back to that pain issue. We do have to deal with the pain of child birth (especially if we’re going natural). So, practically speaking, HOW do we do it?
Obviously, there’s no guarantee against unforeseen complications, long or difficult births, etc. BUT, there are several things that you, the mama, can do to increase the chances that your natural birth will be healthy and timely. Here are a few that I’ve found to help cope with- and even reduce- the pain associated with natural child birth:
- Stay active during your pregnancy. I’m not talking about extremes here- simple, consistent exercises go far in strengthening your body and preparing your muscles to labor that little one into your arms! It only makes sense that a healthy, strong body will have less difficulty with labor than weak, atrophied muscles which lack nutrients and good use. I recommend BabyFit.com for simple but effective prenatal work-outs.
- Eat healthy and take a good supplement. Your body needs folic acid, along with a myriad of other essential vitamins in order to keep you and the baby strong and healthy. Read The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy. If you’ve ever had a C-section, take extra vitamin C to help the tissues heal and strengthen. Drink lots of raspberry tea to tone your uterus, especially during your second and third trimesters (I recommend The Bulk Herb Store’s Mama’s Brew). Again, knowledge is power, so do your homework, mama!
- Get adjusted by a chiropractor regularly. Personally speaking, I would NEVER even consider a natural birth (at a hospital or at home) unless I was seeing a chiropractor during pregnancy. Why? The hormones released in a woman’s body during pregnancy tend to soften the tissues in order to allow room to “grow”. These “soft” tendons and tissues also allow the spine to slip out of line, thus backaches, headaches, and other frequent complaints from expectant mothers. Aside from the discomforts an out-of-line spine provokes, it only stands to reason that pushing a baby through an obstructed birth canal isn’t going to be an easy feat. Trust me, I know. I learned the hard way on this one with our first baby. This mama visits the chiropractor regularly, especially during the last few months of pregnancy. I encourage other mamas to consider doing the same- for your own comfort and health, as well as to reap the benefits of having a well-adjusted body for the birth of your baby.
Here A few more tips for coping with pain during the actual labor:
Some of these might not be practical if you are planning a hospital birth, but don’t be afraid to ask- you might be surprised! A friend of mine was able to use a birthing ball during her son’s hospital birth.
- Have a labor coach (such as your husband, a nurse, or your midwife’s assistant) massage your lower back during contractions. This is especially helpful if you experience a lot of “back labor” (I always do).
- Soak in a tub of warm water as long as you can before the baby is born. Water naturally absorbs a lot of the pressure your contracting body feels during birth.
- Consider a water birth if you really want to take advantage of the relief water can bring. Water births are usually always an option if you are planning to have your baby at home or at a birth clinic (some hospitals may offer them as an option, as well).
- Sit gently on an birthing ball during part of your labor. This also helps absorb a lot of the pressure during labor pains (particularly once transition sets in). A “birthing ball” is nothing more than an inflatable exercise ball; you can purchase one for yourself at Walmart if your health care provider doesn’t have one.
- Prior to the birth, choose Scriptures to focus on during labor. Nothing is worse than letting your mind “go wild” during the intensity of child birth. Physical pain is very distracting and I find it necessary to keep my mind focused during labor. Choose a short phrase- even three or four words- of your favorite Scripture and willfully focus your mind on it during child birth.
Okay, ladies… what say you? Have you ever had a natural birth? Considered one?
Kristy Howard is a pastor’s wife, second-generation homeschooling mom of five, and a passionate believer in friendship, coffee, and quiet time! Kristy writes about motherhood, ministry and life at KristysCottage.com.