Natural labor will likely be the hardest experience you will go through. It will be difficult, but it should not feel impossible. Here are the tips I found useful during my natural labors at the hospital.
Plan to Have a Natural Labor
There is a reason pregnant women before 1909 did not get epidurals, they couldn’t. When we put the idea of pain relief in our mind, it makes it so much easier to give in. For example, if I forget about ice cream in the freezer (this doesn’t happen) I won’t be as likely to crave ice cream at 9 pm. However, when I know a nice pint of Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream is waiting for me, as soon as I think about it it’s hard to resist eating it. Make natural labor your plan and if things change that’s cool too.
Have One Reliable Support Person
Having a reliable support person will make having a natural labor so much more possible. This can be a spouse, mother, close friend, or even a doula. My husband was mine, but it can be anyone that you feel extremely comfortable with.
Choosing a reliable person to be your support is important. You need someone who is willing to put you first and commit to whatever birth plan you choose. Make sure your support person is backing you on your decision to try for natural labor, their encouragement is key.
Notice how I specified ONE support person. When there are too many people in your labor and delivery room it becomes more of a group hangout than a time to focus on mom and baby. I have heard awful stories of mothers who had a whole bunch of people in the delivery room. If people want to hang out and be there as soon as the baby comes, they can mingle in the waiting room or the parking lot. It is really your decision how many people you want in the delivery room, but I would recommend no more than two (excluding the nurses of course).
This is the one time in your life you’re going to want everyone’s undivided attention. If someone wants to be in your delivery room that you don’t feel comfortable with, decline. If they throw a fit and make it about them, it’s a confirmation that not having them was the right choice.
Practice Your Breathing
Practice, practice, practice, your breathing. You might be thinking, I know how to breathe. You don’t. When we breathe throughout the day we do not think about it. When you are in the throws of natural labor you have to intentionally take time to breathe slowly and deeply. Youtube is a great resource for learning how to breathe during labor. You won’t need a fancy-schmancy class unless you want one.
Practice Low Moans (in Private)
My strangest tip for natural labor in the hospital is to practice low moans. It is extremely awkward to practice low moans, but you need to practice them, so it comes naturally during labor. Driving alone in your car is a perfect time to get some practice in. Low moans will help you to breathe in and out more slowly causing your body to relax. During labor, you want to be as relaxed as possible to help the baby move down. I recommend watching some Youtube videos for guidance on this tip. Just make sure your volume is turned down because it does sound.. strange.
Study Labor & Birth Positions You Want to Try
One of the best ways to ensure positive and productive labor is to be in tune with your body. Research different birthing and laboring positions so you have a mental library to work off of. Maybe even get your support person to practice some positions with you. Natural labor can be extremely uncomfortable and positioning your body in different ways can help ease that discomfort.
Listen to Positive Natural Birth Stories
Submerge yourself in positive natural birth stories and literature. It is easy to be discouraged by terrible birth stories. There are horrible birth stories everywhere in fact you probably have heard a few already. Although it is a real bummer that some people have had terrible birth experiences, it does not mean that you will too.
Even if you go to the same hospital, have the same OB, and even the same labor nurses, your labor could be vastly different. Everyone’s body and baby are different and so is their birth story. Listen to positive natural birth stories. Focus on the births you want to emulate not the ones that scare you.
Keep in mind that there will be amazing birth stories that seem too good to be true. Know that your birth might not be picture perfect or as quick as some of your friends who basically start pushing once they get to the hospital. Hope for the best, but focus on having a positive birth experience not a super quick or easy one.
Focus on What is Coming, Not What You are Feeling
Focus on the joy of the baby that is coming. In the height of natural labor, you might find yourself exhausted and overwhelmed. If you focus on those feelings you are more likely to give in to an epidural. Remind yourself that each contraction is bringing you closer to finally meeting your baby. The one you have been wanting to evict from your belly for weeks now. The stronger the contraction the sooner your baby will be in your arms.
Sleep While You Can
Sleep before it’s too late. If you start to feel regular contractions, try to sleep through them, they may subside. I made the mistake of getting excited by my contractions and stayed up most of the night when my contractions started. My first child was not born until 24 hours later.
Fast forward to the end of my natural labor I was 9cm dilated trying my best to focus on breathing and trying to use all the techniques I acquired. When the contraction would finish I was falling asleep for seconds at a time.
At that point, I had been stalled at 9cm for about 4 hours so they were going to start me on Pitocin. I turned to my midwife who knew I wanted a natural labor and sheepishly said “maybe I can get the epidural?” and she calmly assured me I was almost done. I knew that was what I wanted to hear and trusted her.
Long hours of labor can take a toll on you especially if you are lacking sleep. Learn from my mistake, don’t let the excitement make your labor more difficult. Get some rest.
Stay Home As Long as Possible
Stay home as long as you can, it will decrease the likelihood of opting for an epidural. Listen to your body, you know it best. If you feel like things are getting hard to breathe through and increasing in intensity head over to the hospital. Otherwise, wait it out enjoy being at home. Being in a labor and delivery room can make you feel like you have to get a baby out right away and put unnecessary pressure on you. Plus those fluorescent lights and hospital beds are not the most calming environment to labor in.
Learn About the Process of Labor
Get educated on the whole process of labor and delivery. Learn about how your baby makes its way through your body into this world. I’ll mention it again, Youtube. There are multiple birth classes and prenatal resources on Youtube. I really enjoyed learning from all sorts of people nurses, experts, and some good old (actually they were mostly young) regular moms.
Think of Each Contraction as a Wave
In natural labor, contractions take a wave-like form. Think of a wave in your mind, it reaches a high point then crashes back down. This is like a contraction. Your contraction’s intensity will increase and then plateau then go back down. Contractions do not stay at the intense pain level the whole time they crescendo then decrescendo. Remind yourself of this as you reach the peak of your contraction. Know that in a few seconds it will become easier and easier and breathe through that.
Give Yourself Grace
Natural labor is no easy thing, have grace on yourself. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Know that every labor is challenging natural or not. At the end of labor, the most important thing is that you and baby are happy and healthy. You might be able to stick to your birth plan, use all your techniques, and have an amazing labor, but you might not. Allow yourself to be okay with whatever happens and be able to adjust according to your situation. You are a super mom.
Did you have a natural labor?
What are some of your best tips for labor?
Natural labor or not comment below with some encouragement for the mamas to be.
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Love, love, love this!! This is so empowering for women! For my first-born, I was fortunate enough to be close to a hospital that offered all sorts of homebirthy things such as warm rooms, hot tubs, ropes from the ceiling to hang from, homeopathy and so on 🙂
That’s so awesome! I wish all hospitals were like that, it would be such a blessing to the mamas!
Amber @ Dirty Skirt Farm
I love this so much. You are so encouraging and loving. Thank you for mentioning GRACE – that can be really hard for a lot of women. <3
Thank you! Yes we all need grace especially in motherhood and what better place to start than labor?!