How to Prepare for Natural Childbirth: I did it and so can you!
As I planned this hub, I had to make a decision: I could either make this personal and express my feelings throughout the hub in a subjective manner, or I could be entirely objective and pass on information that I have read in books or heard from friends who have children. The truth is that I am not a doctor. Rather, I am a mother with the experience of four births behind me and am now moving into the future with the hope of another baby. I cannot speak from a medical perspective, though I can speak thoughtfully from experience.
Some women, often particularly first-time mothers, don't appreciate information being presented from the point of view of personal experience. If this is you, please feel free to move on and seek out a more medically-relevant article or books on the subject. I have recommended several books and some web sites that I feel will be of importance to those who are planning the birth of their baby.
Whether you have six children or are expecting your first, this information is intended to encourage you to explore your options and to make wise choices about what is right for you and for your baby.
Pregnancy and Childbirth are Natural Processes
It is an unfortunate situation in the United States in particular that we are beginning to treat pregnancy and childbirth as though they are illnesses rather than the natural biological processes that they are. Where women once worked the fields until the day they gave birth (and then headed back to work afterward!) American women are more and more submitting to medicated pregnancy and childbirth.
Pregnancy isn't always pleasant. Sometimes it is downright ugly! Your body is growing and changing, there are fluids that weren't there before, hormones change the way that the hair and nails grow and for most women, pregnancy starts out with feeling sick (morning sickness, headaches and other aches and pains).
At this point in our history, we have been treating pregnancy for generations. My family didn't understand, at first, when I told them that I wanted an unattended pregnancy and a free birth. We are a society of convenience, and medicine often seems like the convenient way to handle the pain and general "ickiness" of pregnancy.
Pregnancy, however, is a natural process. It isn't always enjoyable and yes, sometimes it is nasty. The truth is that the female body was created to be able to handle every change that pregnancy brings about. In most cases, a pregnancy will not be saved by medical intervention and medicine can only make us more comfortable. Pregnancy is not a condition that must be cured, and there only is one cure: birth.
The truth of the matter is that childbirth is painful. While I have, myself, read several articles about the possibility of painless or eve "orgasmic" childbirth, every one of my four labors have been painful. There is a very high possibility that you won't be able to escape the pain of childbirth.
The best thing that you can do in order to move past the pain and have a healthy and joyful birth experience is to arm yourself with knowledge and prepare yourself for what is coming!
Informing the Important Parties
If you have decided to have a natural childbirth, there are several parties who need to be informed of your wishes.
Your Husband/Partner: Particularly if your husband or partner plans on being present at the birth, he needs to know of your desire to have a natural childbirth. Most men don't like to see their partners in pain and he will appreciate your giving him time to process the choice you have made.
Your Labor Coach: Your labor coach might be your husband, but could also be your mother, sister, or a close friend. Your labor coach needs to know that you have chosen natural childbirth. Remember that this person is your advocate during the process and needs to be aware of every decision you have made so that he or she can pass your wishes on to your attending doctor or midwife (if you have one).
Your Doctor or Midwife: Whether you have chosen a doctor or a midwife to deliver your baby, he or she will need to be informed of your decision to have a natural childbirth. You should complete a birth plan and sumbit this to your attending (doctor or midwife)
Understand the Risks vs. the Benefits of Common Interventions
I am not an expert, as previously stated. I would far prefer to point you in the direction of Hencie Goer, the Author of The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth (available at right). This book is an invaluable resource for American women who are hoping to have a natural childbirth in a country in which a full quarter of all pregnancies end in Caesarian section. This book will arm you with the facts about various interventions, including IV fluids and glucose, the most common intervention during labor!
If you are planning on a natural childbirth, you need to know what is coming. Be aware of your body and the process of childbirth. A class is highly recommended, but a good doctor or midwife will be more than willing to inform you of each step of the process, from the beginnings of labor, through transition, right down crowning and birth.
If you know what your body does during labor, you will be far more ready to experience it!
I would also like to mention that sometimes something goes wrong. With my last pregnancy, I had to be induced. Failure to induce my labor when we did would have resulted in the death of my daughter during the birth. Induction itself is an intervention (for another hub), but my main point is that pitocin will make labor hurt more. I've done this four times and have never experienced anything like pitocin! I was very, very close to asking for an epidural after three natural births.
Every birth is different, and there is no shame in taking the epidural if you feel that you need it. Labor is an exhausting experience, and the main thing is that you have a health baby in the end!