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Eight Rules for Planning a Natural Birth

Updated on April 22, 2014
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Natural childbirth is defined as labor and childbirth without medical intervention. It sounds so peaceful, so soothing and so perfect, yet in the moment it can be filled with such challenges, such discomfort and such pain. Don’t get me wrong, a natural child birthing experience can be a beautiful and euphoric event, a time that will never be forgotten, a unique triumph filled with joy and loving memories.

Now, be forewarned, you can watch all of the child birthing DVD’s you can stomach, go to all the birthing classes you have time for, and hire the best birthing coaches you can afford, but until you go through the experience firsthand then there’s very little that can prepare you for the range of emotions you will encounter.

Below are some rules to consider if you are planning a natural childbirth. These rules were developed from personal experience after going through the natural birthing process with each of my two sons. And although these rules are not etched in stone, they will provide food for thought if you are weighing your natural birthing options.

Rule # 1 Decide Beforehand if you are Going to Go Natural

Read books, talk to people who’ve been through it, do your research online, and watch natural birthing DVD’s. Prepare yourself as much as possible on what this experience entails. Because it’s such a surreal event, deciding “on the fly”, when you’re 6 centimeters dilated is not the best time to determine if you’re going to go natural or get an epidural. In the heat of the moment, you’ll most likely opt for the drugs. If you make the decision beforehand, you’re less likely to change your mind and you’ll be better prepared for the intensity that comes along with labor and birth.

Rule # 2 Choose the Right Practitioner For You

You want the person who is going to deliver your baby to be supportive of you and your decisions. Choosing the right individual is vital to your overall experience. Whether it’s a doctor who specializes in high-risk births, an obstetrician, your family doctor, or even a midwife, the right practitioner is key to your overall delivery success. They will see you through your entire pregnancy and be familiar with your needs and desires. When it comes time to select the right person interview as many candidates as you can, get referrals, do your due diligence along with a good background check. If it sounds like you’re seeking to hire the most qualified candidate for an extremely rare job, then I’ve done this rule justice.

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Rule #3 Decide Where You Will Deliver

Will it be at home or at a birthing center or a hospital? More and more women are choosing to deliver at home because giving birth in a familiar setting is less stressful and far more comfortable for them. A birthing center is a home-like setting that offers a place for low risk women to deliver with little medical intervention, in particular pain-relieving medications. A birthing center uses doctors, midwives and doulas to help parents have a more natural birth.

If you choose a hospital then it’s important to pick a hospital that you feel comfortable in. Is there a shower in the room? What kind of ratings have the maternity ward received? How far is it from your home? You should interview the nurses and take a tour of the facility where you will give birth. When it’s time for delivery then you want to know your way around as much as possible. Whichever place you choose to deliver make sure it’s the best choice for you.

Rule #4 Find a Birthing Class

Bradley is the class used most when planning a natural childbirth. It’s also called the husband-coached birth. The Bradley method prepares the mother to deliver without pain medications and prepares the baby's father to be mom's birth coach. Although this method prepares you to give birth without medications, it also prepares you for the possibility of unexpected situations, such as an emergency cesarean. Additionally, you’ll be trained on pain relieving techniques, along with learning about different positions and various ways that you can deliver your child.

Rule #5 Consider Hiring a Doula

Husbands are great coaches, but they can get tired, especially during a long labor. No one knows the birthing process better than an expert in the field. A doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. They offer pain management and relaxation techniques, and even aid in the breastfeeding process. Another benefit of a doula is that she can give the dad breaks to rest and nap, if need be, while labor continues. You can discuss with your doula what specific type of support she will provide.

Rule # 6 Have a Birth Plan

A birth plan is a way for you to effectively communicate your preferences for your birth to your practitioner, and your birth team. The birth plan will guide you step-by-step on the entire process and help you to prepare for the unknowns. This plan should be given to all people involved in your birthing process: your doctor, the nurses, etc. Below is the birth plan that I used for my oldest son. Please customize accordingly.

SAMPLE BIRTH PLAN
Labor
I'd like the option of returning home if I'm not in active labor.
Within proper safe circumstances, I'd like to be able to progress at my own pace and have minimal medical interventions.
Please don't offer me any pain medication.
I'd like to move around and switch positions as I choose.
I'd like to wear my contact lenses, as long as I don't need a C-section.
I'd like to eat light snacks and drink clear fluids to maintain my energy/hydration levels.
I'd like to use the shower, breathing exercises, hot/cold therapy, acupressure, and massage as comfort measures.
If interventions become necessary, please take the time to review pros and cons with us.
Episiotomy
Unless medically necessary, I'd like to avoid an episiotomy.
Delivery
Within safe limitations, I'd like the pushing stage to be free of time constraints.
If available and if I desire, I'd like to use a squatting bar.
I'd like to be coached on when and how long to push.
I'd like my husband to possibly help catch our son and cut the umbilical cord, after it has stopped pulsating.
I'd like to hold my baby and breastfeed immediately after the birth.
I'd prefer not to receive oxytocin to deliver the placenta or at any time.
Cesarean
I would like my husband to be present at all times. If the Anesthesiologist gives permission, I'd like our doula in the operating room also.
Providing that he is stable, my husband would like to hold the baby after he is dried off.
I'd like to breastfeed as soon as possible.
After Delivery
Please delay non-critical measures so we can bond without interruption.
I'd love to have all newborn procedures take place in my presence, and have the baby stay in my room. I'd like my husband to remain with him if I can't be there.
The three of us would like to stay in a private room, with a cot provided for my husband.
We'd like our son to be circumcised at the hospital.
Breastfeeding
I prefer to feed on demand, breastfeeding exclusively. Please don't offer a pacifier.
If available, I would appreciate a meeting with a lactation consultant.
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Rule # 7 Make Sure Your Bags are Packed

At least 8 weeks prior to your due date, your bags should be packed and ready to go if you need to rush to the hospital or birthing center. Even if you’re planning to deliver at home you should pack a bag just in case you need to be hospitalized. Your bag should include: snacks, water, a comfortable change of clothes, pajamas, nursing bras, maxi pads, socks, slippers, magazines, toiletries (face wash, lotions, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc), camera, a take-home outfit for the baby, and diapers. 8 weeks may seem far in advance, but don’t get caught off-guard by the unexpected.

Rule # 8 Forget the Rules if There’s an Emergency

If your child or your health is in jeopardy, or other extenuating circumstances make the situation too critical to continue along the natural path, then forget the rules and do what you can for your health and your baby’s. If anyone’s health is at stake, then medicating should be the new rule to ensure a safe delivery.

Bringing a life into this world is a miraculous feat, no matter what type of birthing process you choose. The experience I went through is not meant to be a hard and fast mandate, but guidelines to pursue if you are deciding to take the natural child-birthing course. These 8 rules are intended to shed light on the natural birthing process and hopefully help you discover which path is right for your family.

RELATED: 25 Celebrities Who Had Natural Births

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    • profile image

      Becky Brock 2 years ago

      Yes, so many people have so many comments about anything. I'd say wherever the person is comfortable with then go for it. But it's also liberating to try something you think will make a big difference. If you are to try something new, make sure you have very good review or recommendations from people you truly know or are close to. But anyway, awesome tips you laid out here. Keep it up!

    • profile image

      Heather 2 years ago

      It's super sad that you chose natural birth but chose the unnatural act of a cosmetic procedure on your sons :( hoping you've changed your belief system since then

    • sakinah profile image

      sakinah 3 years ago from Nibong Tebal, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

      Very helpful. Having gone through a natural birth myself, I agree with these rules, except that the only birthing class I took was online, and I had no appetite in labor whatsoever. Definitely agree with rule #8. Life happens.

    • blundermom profile image

      blundermom 3 years ago from United States

      I'm so glad you included rule #8! So much of what I read while pregnant led me to believe that I could have the natural birth I wanted if I just prepared for it and tried hard enough. Of course I did all those things, but then I wound up needing an emergency c-section and feeling like a failure for it. It always makes me feel better when I see others acknowledge that emergencies can and do get in the way. Thank you!

    • thebrownbear profile image

      thebrownbear 3 years ago

      I agree with #8 for sure! Good to plan ahead but healthy baby and mommy are the most important.

    • profile image

      RanRan0459 3 years ago

      I liked this list even though both of my deliveries were unscheduled cesareans because it emphasized the best possible, most comfortable, safest outcome for all parties. As unpleasant as it is to think about, one may wish to add a choice of neonatal unit, medical power of attorney etc.

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      Sigh 3 years ago

      so, you're all for natural birth but chose to circumcise your son? So it's all good for your to go natural but mutilate him and remove something that mother nature put there for a reason? You are in position lecture about being natural when you're responsible for child mutilation.

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi Kathleen, I love hearing delivery stories from other mother's. Wow, with 3 natural births and 1 epidural, I'm sure you have a few stories to tell other moms as well. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      This hub should be a must read for every expectant parent. I've been through three natural and one epidural deliveries. From my experience, the number one goal is a healthy baby. I've seen women risk that for whatever her "deal-breaker" priority was. Natural is an amazing way to go, but when I'd been in labor through a sleepless night with hours still to go, opting for the epidural was good for all of us. My sideways baby finally turned as I relaxed and was born with no problems.

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi Au fait, thank you so much for the share and the Pinterest follow. I will return the favor!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      This is such a well thought out article with important useful information that I am revisiting in order to Pin this hub to my "Pregnancy & Child Birth" board. Will share again with my followers also. Following you on Pinterest too.

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      healthmom, thank you for your comments. The Bradley method was very helpful for us as well for both of our boys. It's nice to see other moms out there going this route.

    • healthmom profile image

      healthmom 4 years ago from Ohio

      Well written and insightful hub. I had both my children naturally after taking Bradley classes and agree totally. The Bradley method is wonderful for women who have decided on natural childbirth!

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi rasta1, these guidelines will really come in handy. Thank you for your comments.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      I'll bookmark this hub and use it as a reference whenever my time comes to give support. Very informative.

    • Careermommy profile image
      Author

      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi Au fait, thank you for sharing your take. I agree, you can never be too prepared because there are so many unknowns that can happen and do happen. The more prepared, the better. That's my motto.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 4 years ago from North Texas

      Very thorough and excellent advice. I had my daughter by natural childbirth in the sense that there were no pain killers, no epidural, etc. I educated myself as much as possible before the birthing process about what to expect both before, during, and after my baby was born. One can never be too prepared. Great hub, great advice. Voted up, useful, and will share!

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi amhanel, thank you for your comments. It seems people have strong opinions for and against natural birth, but then again, people have strong opinions about just about anything!

    • amhanel profile image

      amhanel 4 years ago from Ann Arbor, Michigan

      Great advice! I can totally understand why some women need epidurals - I probably would have gotten one if I were in labor for days. But I don't understand why so many people are against a natural birth. It's a beautiful experience to have.

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Hi Dads world, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I'm glad to see a dad out there who understands the natural birthing process! How great for you and your wife. All experiences are different, but I'm glad everything went smooth for you and your family.

    • Dads world profile image

      Josh 4 years ago

      This is an excellent hub. Most people do not fully prepare for a natural birth like they should. When me and my wife planned we went through a birth center. It could not have been a better decision. Through all our planning, everything went very smooth. This is a great list.

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Awww, thank you so much for the votes and pin, Mama Kim 8. I agree with the birth plan. Even though there were so many surprises and things I wasn't prepared for. I do know that having the birth plan gave me a level of security and comfort that I had some control. Thank you again!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      Very well said ^_^ Your sample birth plan is especially helpful for the new mommies, I remember not knowing what a birth plan was let alone what to write in it. There are so many things to think about when it comes to giving birth... especially in a hospital. If you don't do your research first they can often get you to do things that you wouldn't have if you'd known. Also, flexibility is incredibly important... you just never know until it happens. Great hub, voting a bunch and pinning

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you 1RN2NV for your comments. Coming from a nurse, that really means a lot to me.

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you Nakawill for your kind words!

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you Samantha!

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you guest commentators, Samantha, Nakawill, and 1RN2NV, for stopping by, and for your great feedback. I hope you'll come back to visit again!

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      1RN2NV 4 years ago

      Great advice! And THANK YOU for Rule #8. I have been a labor nurse for 10 years. A birth plan is great especially when you can be open minded about the "what if's". Some women feel like failures if their birth plan does not go EXACTLY as planned. My role as a nurse is to make these women feel like they have done the impossible and make their birthing experience as special as possible. :)

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      Nakawill 4 years ago

      Good article, well written and very thorough! Good job T!!! :-)

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      Samantha 4 years ago

      Awesome article, Aunt! Keep up the good work! :)

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      jpcmc, I'm sure your wife would love it if you were here Doula! If not, you can still be her coach. She would love that too. Thank you for reading!

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you teaches12345 for your valuable feedback. I tried to be as thorough as I could be!

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I think I want to be trained as a Doula at least for my wife. that's the least I con do to help her during labor.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      This will be a great piece of information for those who are considering the natural methods. Wow, you have provided really good advice!

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Nancy, thank you for your thoughtful words. It does seem like there's so much to cover to prepare for birth but then when it happens, all the planning efforts seem like a blur. LOL. Thank you again!

    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 4 years ago from USA

      WOW! You have really thought of everything. Where were you when I was 16 and giving birth for the first time? Just kidding. :) Seriously, though, it seems that having babies is a lot less stressful than it was 30 years ago. This is both a useful and timeless piece that is very well-written and covers this delicate topic in detail. Such a useful reference tool for mothers-to-be. Hats off to you, careermommy! Voted up and useful

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you Neelum. Welcome to Hubpages!

    • Careermommy profile image
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      Tirralan Watkins 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thank you so much for your kind words carolina muscle!

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      carolina muscle 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      well thought out, and nicely written.