If you have a low risk, healthy pregnancy, natural childbirth may be within your reach, but it requires a thorough preparation. Below are my top 3 tips for having a natural labor.
Tip #1: Understand the labor process.
Do you know what to expect in the stages of labor? Have you heard about transition? Understanding what happens during natural labor is the first step in preparing for a natural childbirth. It also helps you cooperate with the process. For example, knowing that transition is the shortest phase can help you endure it, even though it feels like you can't do it. Knowing that labor can proceed naturally and normally as long as you continue to dilate and baby's heart rate is good helps you keep you focused on relaxation, movement, and staying calm. You will learn all about the stages of labor in a good childbirth preparation class series, like Birth Ready, so make sure you take one!
Tip #2: Master multiple coping skills.
Just as someone would not show up to a marathon without training for it first, don't expect to make it through natural labor without preparing and practicing multiple coping skills. In Birth Ready classes, we teach you multiple breathing techniques and positions to be in during a contraction that facilitate you relaxing and "riding the waves." We also teach you how to claim God's promises in labor, instead of relying on hypnosis. At home, it is important for you to set aside a few minutes each day to imagine the labor process and practice using the coping skills you have learned.
Tip #3: Have at least 2 labor support companions.
Some coping mechanisms in labor really require someone else to help you. To combine coping mechanisms, you may even benefit from two people helping you. For example, while you are breathing through a contraction, your spouse may be holding you in a supported squat position, while another person provides counterpressure on your lower back.
I recommend having a doula as that second support person. A doula is a trained labor support professional who can guide you and your spouse with ideas for coping and be that important second set of hands to provide much needed relief. Your Birth Ready educator can give you a good referral for a local Christian doula or may be one herself.
Some women mistakenly think that a doula will guarantee them a natural childbirth. But, the real recipe of success is the combination of understanding the labor process, having your own coping skills, and having trained labor support.