Do you want to have a natural unmedicated birth? Perhaps even at home birth? Well sittin’ around hoping and praying it goes well isn’t the only thing you can do!
So, grab yourself a cup of red raspberry leaf tea and I will tell you everything I am doing to prepare for natural birth.
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After my first labor and delivery, I felt very strongly that if I became pregnant again I would do everything in my power to give birth naturally.
I really want a peaceful birth where my child enters the world in dimmed lights and the soft sounds of home instead of the bright lights and extraneous beeps in the hospital.
I don’t want sterile rubber gloves to be the first thing touching my baby’s delicate skin. I don’t want to be pressured to give a hepatitis B vaccine or any other nonemergent medical intervention right away.
I have high hopes for this birth and know that I have to prepare accordingly. I have to keep my body strong.
I want to share everything I am doing to prepare my body and mind for a natural childbirth.
As I write this post, I am currently 20 weeks pregnant. I will update the blog how it goes once it happens.
How to Prepare for Natural Birth
1. Interview different providers ahead of time
I am very glad I had the foresight to start interviewing naturally-minded providers before I got pregnant.
If this is your first pregnancy, you may have more time to get this done, but because I already have a toddler, I started interviewing about a year out from trying to conceive.
The best way to facilitate a natural birth is to have a supportive and experienced provider.
I wanted to feel comfortable with this person’s skill level and personality.
While it may be possible to find an OBGYN that is on board with minimal interventions, the easier option is to use a midwife.
Midwife interviews can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. They are great because you get to know them and they get to know you before you sign up to work together.
I was able to arrange some leisure meetings when I had childcare so I could fully focus on getting to know the different midwives.
I really wanted to find one that uses herbs and homeopathy in conjunction with natural techniques, but I ended up finding a practice that was reasonably priced, close to my home, had toys in the waiting room, and actually had two attending midwives. This means that for one flat price I can have both midwives attend my birth as long as they are both available.
I really love both of them and it’s such a relief to have my midwife lined up as soon as I found out I was pregnant.
2. Seek advice from those who have done it
I have no intention of winging this birth. I have read and listened to other moms’ advice on how to prepare for a natural birth and their natural birth stories.
I joined a natural birth facebook group and scroll through it from time to time to find any helpful tips and personal testimonies. There is power and wisdom in stories.
Thank God for the internet since it can be hard to find other moms in your immediate circle who have gone through this experience.
3. Educate yourself through books
I have a small collection of books that are packed full of information on natural birth.
This book contains everything you need to know to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.
It goes into nutritional prep, pre-pregnancy detox, and even some ways to prepare your partner prior to conception so their swimmers are in tip-top shape.
I did not read a single nutritional concept that I disagreed with or contradicts the functional nutrition knowledge I already know.
This book also contains recipes and survival guides by trimester.
This is an easy to follow, week-by-week guide on what is going on inside your body and some areas to focus your health-improvement efforts each week. There is a ton of great information in this book and it is easy to digest in bite-sized chunks.
Mama Natural had three natural births. If there is ever a mama to give great advice from experience, it is her!
This homeopathy reference book goes into great depth on how to use safe, non-toxic homeopathic remedies during pregnancy. If you were told that drugs like Tylenol are completely safe during pregnancy, you were straight up lied to.
Fortunately, you can ease a ton of unpleasant pregnancy symptoms by using homeopathy. This book is a must-have for anyone trying to have a non-medicated pregnancy and birth.
I absolutely loved the suggestions made by Dr, Bradley of The Bradley Method. This book gives great tips on things to do during labor and birth to reduce pain.
It also focuses in depth on the husband’s role in childbirth and how he, by being attentive and caring, can provide physical and mental support to reduce pain and stress through an unmedicated birth. He gives specific advice on this topic.
Dr. Bradley also gives suggestions for exercises to prepare for labor & proper positions to facilitate smooth labor and birth.
4. Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
As soon as entered into my second trimester, I started drinking a daily cup of red raspberry leaf tea. I did this during my first pregnancy and although I was on Pitocin at the hospital, my actual labor was only 45 minutes and I pushed for just over an hour.
The leaves of the red raspberry plant have medicinal effects for pregnant women including strengthening and toning the uterus. It is thought to shorten the length of labor and decrease the need for a vacuum or forceps delivery. (source)
Red raspberry leaf tea is also highly nutritious and a great way to keep up your electrolytes. It is high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, manganese, and iron. (source)
If you are not a tea drinker, I have been absolutely loving this nourishing tincture for fertility and pregnancy. It has all the same benefits as a daily cup of red raspberry leaf tea, but can be taken as a supplement.
5. Daily Pregnancy Exercises
I made a pact with myself to be extra mindful of physical fitness this pregnancy. I know that if I want to keep my body strong enough for a natural birth, it means committing to something active every single day.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have days where I am very tired and not motivated. Sometimes I spend all my energy doing activities with my son. On those days I simply do a few squats, deep squat and holds, cat/cows, kegels, and force myself to stretch.
Now that I am halfway through my pregnancy, I feel the extra front weight making it more difficult. I have resolved that at least two days a week I will push myself to do longer workouts whether that be a long walk finished off with some body weight exercises, or just a very long lifting session.
I have chosen to do this because I want my body to be prepared for a prolong labor and still be capable of effectively pushing. I have no idea what it will be like doing things completely naturally since last time I had Pitocin.
6. Perineal Stretches at 36 weeks
Starting around 35 or 36 weeks, I plan to do perineal stretches. I did this with my first pregnancy and only had a very small tear requiring two stiches.
Perineal massage is basically where you manually stretch the skin of the perineum while using some sort of lubricant. I used coconut oil.
You can do perineal massage yourself, although it can be difficult to reach down there when you are that big.
If you have a loving partner that can help you with this process and you might find this post helpful. It contains picture and diagrams on how to do perineal massage properly.
The benefits of perineal massage is it preps the skin, reduces the risk of tearing, and may decrease pain during crowning (aka the ring of fire!).
7. Chiropractic Care
During my first pregnancy, I went to the chiropractor from 16 weeks on. This time I will likely wait until my third trimester just due to financial and time constraints.
Chiropractic care during pregnancy is associated with reduced pain and it facilitates the baby to move into an optimal birth position. (source)
You will want to find a chiropractor that uses the Webster Technique and do not under any circumstances let a chiropractor take an x-ray of your spine when you are pregnant!
8. Specific Nutritional Recommendations
Towards the end of my last pregnancy, I started eating foods that are known to ripen the cervix. These include pineapple and dates.
This time around, I will also increase my intake of vitamin C and collagen in smoothies. These two nutrients make up the building blocks to repair damaged tissues.
I won’t have as much time to lay around snuggling my baby with a toddler on the loose so I need my body to heal quickly.
Related: Top 5 Supplements for Pregnant Women
Lastly on diet:
I have decided to follow a mix of the Brewer’s diet and a low carb diet throughout this pregnancy. I want to keep my weight gain at a minimum so that I can stay limber and not feel so sluggish towards the end while still nourishing my growing baby.
I have been eating around 100 grams of protein daily and 75 grams of carbs. The remainder of my diet includes healthy fats such as avocados, salmon, nuts, and non-toxic oils such as ghee, olive oil, and coconut oil.
So far I have only gained six pounds and I am halfway through my pregnancy so it seems to be working.
9. Positive Confessions and Prayer
There is obviously a lot you can physically do to prepare your body for natural birth but we can’t forget about a major player when it comes to all this.
Your mental attitude throughout your pregnancy WILL make a difference in your entire experience.
I know that life can be stressful and sometimes you just have days where you feel like crap and don’t even have an ounce of energy to spare on being positive. I am not suggesting perfection but I am suggesting you let a few other areas of your life go to make time for mental rest.
I have personally chosen to take a step back from my social engagements to regain time for reflection. If that doesn’t sound fun for you maybe you could allow your house to be a little less clean or stop watching as much tv?
No matter, it is vital to make some time for quiet stillness where you can feed your mind positive thoughts about what you are capable of.
Tell yourself every day that you are strong and able to bring your child into this world without fear, without medical interventions, and without defeat.
Say it matter-of-factly and pray for it so much that you cannot help but believe it.
Your mind will be a powerful ally or your greatest downfall. Best to get it on your side early on and accept nothing less of your thoughts.
If you have trouble thinking of positive affirmations, I have created a printable for you to tape to your bathroom mirror and you can grab it for free!
I hope this gives you some actionable tips to help you prepare for your natural birth. I believe this decision is the best way to give your baby a great start to life.
However, I know that there are some things that are completely out of our control. My grandmother always says, “You make plans and God laughs.”
Just know that whatever happens, these suggestions will increase the health of your pregnancy and even if you do need a bit of pain management or more interventions during birth, you will be contributing to your child’s lifelong health.
The overall goal is a healthy mom and a healthy baby. I know that if I don’t get to have my home birth I will be a little disappointed, but years down the road that will fade and I will be thankful to have my children in this world, no matter how they came.