The Best Birth-Day Ever: Born With Natural Childbirth
The Who, What, and Why
Natural childbirth, once the only option available to delivering mothers, is now only one of several choices parents have at their disposal. One of my pregnancy books submits that natural childbirth means different things to different people. Some people feel like that means no epidural, but will gladly accept IV medication for their pain. Others think that means having the baby at home with no medication whatsoever. For the sake of this article, natural childbirth is laboring and delivering in a hospital or birthing center, and getting as little medical intervention as possible.
People choose natural childbirth for different reasons. Some women feel it is best for the baby. A lot of people will say that epidurals and other interventions have no effect on the baby. Other people will tell you that these things can make the baby noticeably sleepy and, thus, unable to eat as much or very well. Of course, that is just a VISIBLE effect, and there is no way to really know how much these medical interventions actually affect the baby.
Other people choose natural childbirth in order to manage their own pain. Some people do not like the idea of medicine blocking the natural feelings in the body. Some medicines block the sensation of needing to push, for example, and the doctor must then tell the women when to push. This is not preferable to women who want their bodies to do the work God made them to do.
Another reason to choose natural childbirth is that methods of intervention can create a cascading effect. For example, a woman may choose to have labor induced. The drug used for this generally causes labor to come quickly and hard. This makes it much harder for the woman to manage the pain of labor. She has not had time to gradually ease into the pain and rhythm of contractions. An epidural is almost neccessary. As previously mentioned, this may cause the baby to be very sleepy and not eat, causing other problems.
Whatever the reason to choose natural childbirth, it is important to make a plan, prepare, and stick to your guns. People will say you're crazy, and they may try to push you into doing things you do not wish to do. God speaks to the hearts of mothers if they only listen and pay attention. Natural childbirth is not easy, but it is worth the trouble.
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1. Make a Plan
Making a plan is one of the most crucial steps in having a natural delivery. It is important for two reasons. The first reason you need to make a written (or typed) plan is so that it is firm in YOUR mind. It is wonderful to mull things over in your head and discuss them with your husband, because, of course, you need to decide together what you both want and expect out of the labor and delivery of your baby. However, writing it down cements it in a way. The written version of your plan serves as a sort of goal.
Secondly, the written plan is VITAL to the success of your natural childbirth, since this is the plan you will give your doctor and nurses at the time of the birth. Hospitals certainly differ in the amount of attention they pay to your specific requests. Be sure to know what is in your plan well, so you or your husband can remind the people caring for you of what you desire. Hopefully, as in my case, the staff will take your plan and commit to it to the best of their abilities. I recomend keeping several copies of your printed birth plan on hand. Give one to your doctor beforehand if at all possible. one to the nurse when you walk into the hospital, one to your husband or other birth coach, and one or two just in case shifts change and some people are not aware of the plan. Likely, the nurse will put your plan in your chart, but just in case, it never hurts to be prepared in this way.
You can make this plan yourself-- completely from scratch-- or plans can be found online. Some plans have specific categories already on them, to which you can add or subtract as desired. A version of this type of plan can be found here: http://www.justmommies.com/quizzes/birthplan.php
Other plans have categories and blanks that you can print, but cannot change . A good version of this type of printable plan can be found here: http://www.babiesonline.com/articles/pregnancy/birthplancreator.asp
2. Be Prepared
Making the plan is only one part of being prapared to have a baby. Also, it is probably never possible to be completely prepared. Childbirth is one of the experiences in a woman's life that simply has to be experienced to be understood. Add to this that every woman's experience is different and different babies create a different experience. However, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what usually happens and what could happen during your labor and delivery. This is important, because in order for natural childbirth to be successful, a woman must be able to focus on her task-- breathing and getting through each contraction as it comes. If the woman is distracted by a lot of unexpected events or noises, this task becomes nearly impossible. If the woman loses focus, it is unlikely she will be able to get it back.
The first and easiest way to prepare yourself for childbirth is READING. There are so many books available on pregnancy and childbirth that a woman cannot hope to read even half of them during her pregnancy. There are some good ones, however, that can really help you to prepare your mind for what is to come.
One such book that is extremely popular is called What to Expect When You're Expecting. This book goes week by week, and also month by month, giving the mother what is likely to happen this week in her body, in the baby's body, and in the doctor visit. This book answers numerous common questions, and includes sections on labor and delivery, complications, and even some postpartum information. A good feature to this book is that there is a companion website that offers even more information and support. The website is: http://www.whattoexpect.com
Another good book is Pregnancy for Dummies. This book offers basic information on pregnancy and labor and delivery, and presents it in a very straightforward way. It can be almost TOO basic at times, but can be very helpful if you do not understand something.
One book that I particularly enjoyed was A Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine. It is candid and humorous, and offers information from the perspective of "one of us".
These books are available at many bookstores and online at Amazon.com.
There are many many more books available, and I encourage you to read several, especially because some books mention things others do not. This allows you to get a broader picture of the process of labor and delivery.
The internet also has a wealth of resources in this area. One great website is http://www.babycenter.com . This website offers a weekly view of your baby. It discusses what your baby looks like, what new developments are happening that week, and how you may be feeling. You may also find watching birthing videos helpful. This is initially somewhat disturbing, but helps you to understand what your body will REALLY be doing.
Lamaze or other childbirthing classes are wonderful if they are available. The internet also has online lamaze classes that you pay for and view at home.
Talking with other mothers can be very helpful, too. They have firsthand experience and can explain things to you in a way that makes more sense, and may be more accurate.
The point of preparing is not to freak yourself out. Do not allow yourself to get too frightened-- although it is natural to feel a little afraid. The idea of preparing yourself is just that-- to prepare. This way, when you go into labor, you will not be completely shocked by what begins to happen to your body. You are also better able to focus during labor, because most, if not all, of what is occuring is expected.
3. Stick to the Plan
Most people will tell you to BE FLEXIBLE. This is true. You cannot always forsee what will happen during your labor and delivery. You may have expressed a wish to not have an episiotomy, for example, unless there is a definite need. You will, however, need to be flexible enough to realize that one may become neccessary. This is NOT a tragedy! Sometimes things happen, and measures need to be taken to insure the health and safety of you and the baby.
That being said, it is important to be firm in your resolve. If you walk into the hospital thinking, "I do not want any drugs...unless the pain gets too bad." you will almost definitely have to receive drugs. This mindset allows you to decide you cannot handle it. In order to succeed, you need to realize that YOU CAN. Women were created to withstand labor and delivery. Yes, it promises to be painful. Yet it is a finite experience-- it WILL end. Contractions hurt. However, breathing and remaining calm WILL get you through them.
Again, Lamaze classes can help you stick to your plan. These classes emphasize remaining calm and as comfortable as possible. They also teach you several breathing techniques, which truly help you to relax and work through your labor. Having a supportive coach (or more than one) is quite helpful, too. This person, or people, should encourage you and help you to breathe. They should help you to relax however they can. They should also help you remain firm in your resolve. They should NOT be easily convinced that you need pain medicine. These people are there to encourage YOU to do what you have already determined to do in the best way you can.
You can do it. And you will be glad you did.
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