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Comment Consideration #4: How I Achieved a Natural Birth at a Hospital

Monday, April 30, 2012

I had both of my kids via natural childbirth (daughter's birth story here and here, son's birth story here). People's reactions to this news range from incredulous to impressed. They want to know if it didn't hurt...yes, it hurt. Having a baby is going to hurt no matter how you go about doing it. I'd rather take my pain upfront and get it over with. People also want to know how I got around the hospital's standard procedures (administering Pitocin after delivery to prevent hemorrhaging, for example) as if I got away with something...the answer is I educated myself, wrote a birth plan and assembled a birth team to advocate for that plan on my behalf.

For the purposes of this post, I define a natural childbirth as 100% drug-free, vaginal birth (I will let others quibble about what other medical interventions might disqualify a birth as natural). Also, the purpose of this post is to outline how I did it because so many of you want to know. I am not knocking anyone's choices for how they deliver their babies. To each, her own. My decision to have my children naturally was equal parts a health choice for me and my babies, a sociopolitical statement, and a leap of faith. I took classes with a natural childbirth counselor for holistic guidance in three areas:
  • Body Readiness: I grew up influenced by my grandmother's and mother's natural lifestyles. I never saw my grandmother take an over-the-counter medication much less prescription drugs. She gave birth to six children without painkillers. My mom did also. With that kind of example set for me, I always knew that I would do the same. My natural childbirth journey began with the recognition that my body was built to perform the job of childbirth. I had to do my part with diet and exercise. I knew that that developing gestational diabetes or preeclampsia could spell the end of my plans, so I was careful to go to my OB appointments, eat right, take my vitamins, exercise, not gain too much weight, and get plenty of rest. I did yoga for flexibility. I also saw a chiropractor trained in treating pregnant women (Webster technique) to keep my spine and pelvis in alignment so I would have an easier time pushing.

  • Mental Preparation: Natural childbirth is all about relaxing and letting go. This doesn't come easy for a control freak like me. I did psychological homework that made me dig deep for the issues that made me nervous and self-doubt because these could become potential roadblocks to a natural childbirth. You'd be surprised how fears and anxieties come into play in the delivery room. I read natural childbirth books and watched natural birth videos on YouTube for inspiration. My natural childbirth coach suggested I create a mantra to chant through the contractions. One of her clients spelled out her son's name, but I couldn't do that since I didn't know the baby's sex beforehand. So I came up with, "the pain is for a purpose." I also did a lot of visioning. I would just imagine the birth process like writing a script.

  • Spirit Consciousness: For me, having a baby was really a faith journey. I felt so connected with my spiritual side when I was pregnant. I acknowledged that my body was designed by God to bring forth life and put my faith in Him. I also read Birthing from Within which helped me with the letting go and letting God. 
Natural Baby #1
Natural Baby #2
Other tips for a successful natural childbirth:
  • Write a Birth Plan. Not only does it spell out your wishes, it helps your mental preparation to read it over and over.
  • Assembling an A+ Birth Team: Choose a maternity care provider who listens to you, respects you and supports your birth plan. Take a natural childbirth class (the hospital class usually focuses on the hospital's routines and doesn't delve deep enough into the mechanics of childbirth). Get a doula or friend to be your birth coach. Husbands/boyfriends are great support, but a female presence significantly increases your chances of a successful natural childbirth
  • Empower Yourself. Get educated. Read some books on natural childbirth. I recommend these two that were recommended to me: Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and The Birth Partner. Also, watch "The Business of Being Born." The more you know, the more confident you will be that you can do this!

21 comments:

Mrs. Pancakes said...

These are great...I always believed in mind over matter so I'm definitely going on with that thought. And also God designing my body for the natural birthing is so true....i am also having "talks" with baby about him coming naturally when it's his time to come ino the world:-) thanks or sharing your experiences!

Alicia@ Mommy Delicious said...

Teresha:

You and I are so >HERE< when it comes to this post. With the exception of my mom and grandma having kids naturally, though, because I have no idea how their births went. However, I had Aiden naturally. In a hospital. And I just pretty much did the same thing as you -- prepared myself, spiritually and mentally. I labored at home for as long as possible while my sister rubbed my back and I got down on all fours to help with the pain. In the hospital, whenever I felt strong contraction, I imagined that it was to move the baby along the birth canal and down. It really is mind over matter. I mean, really. Of course, it hurts. But, like you said -- pain with a purpose.

And a birth plan is absolutely essential. I let my OB know and the other OB just in case mine was not on-call that day. It's hard, but not impossible. And if you want a natural birth, it's so totally worth it.

AnnaZed said...

You are so marvelous. If only I had been so single minded. Your grandmother and mother sound like such remarkable women. More about them sometime please!

Melissa + Tiffany @ Home Grown Families said...

Great post and congratulations on your newest. :)

Melissa + Tiffany @ Home Grown Families said...

Great post and congratulations on your newest. :)

Melissa + Tiffany @ Home Grown Families said...

Great post and congratulations on your newest. :)

Still Blonde after all these YEARS said...

I am impressed, awed, and applaud you! I would never ever do it myself but respect you more than you know for your choice. I am glad it worked so well for you!

Bre Dale said...

Thank you for sharing. I've saved this to my favorites so that I can read it again when the time comes for me!

Christa aka The BabbyMama said...

Administering Pitocin after delivery is part of standard procedure at your hospital? EEK! This is the same place with the showers? You're sharing these tidbits and it's making me grateful for my local hospital, which seems pretty granola-y compared to most.

For me, birthing with the midwives from the hospital's on-site birth center instead of some OB I didn't know helped since they're not going to rush you the same way some OBs and nurses will.

ToSewWith Love said...

I am glad natural birth worked for you, Teresha. I had a cs with both kids and I prepared for natural for both. Both were emergency CS. With my second baby, I wanted to go natural but things didn't happen my way so we had to do a CS again when the fetal heartbeat dropped.

Linette said...

I prepared for a natural child birth with my son, but my water broke and my labor didn't start so in the end they had to help things along. I envy anyone who accomplished a natural child birth!

Quiana said...

What a wonderful post! I'd love to hear what a natural recovery is like. I had the epi w/a vaginal birth and saw how my recovery differed from peers who had c-sections and am curious to know how an epi/vaginal compares to a no-epi/vaginal. I was gung-ho natural and am still considering it for #2 but the memory of what it felt like pre/post epi (in a good way!) is still a strong memory for me that I'm not sure what I'd choose in the future.

An Ordinary Housewife said...

I had an epidural for #1 and planned to for #2, but they didn't get it to me in time. I posted on my blog about my experience--how my husband delivered the baby who would not wait to come out b/c the nurses were all busy elsewhere. :-/ It wasn't as bad as I expected, but then I didn't really tear for #2 like I did for #1. So healing wasn't so bad.

Freetail Therapy said...

GREAT Post! I totally agree! I have 6 kids, and only had 1 of them naturally. All 6 were vaginal, but only 1 was natural.

Betty said...

Incredible! I have been reading a great book titled, "Unassisted Childbirth" by Laura Kaplan Shanley, and have to say that I am truly a firm believe in natural childbirth. The book points out how most women can have a perfectly wonderful natural birth- without much pain, if they can just get past the fear! Your story supports her theory! Thanks for sharing!
http://www.unassistedchildbirth.com/

Maureen Sklaroff said...

Well, I've done it pretty much all ways, except c-section, which I never had. I'm of the mind that a birth that results in a healthy momma and baby is great, no matter how it was achieved. In regards to pre-eclampsia, I had it with both my first and my fifth. We used a sperm donor for number 5 (long story). It ends up that there is a big correlation between how much sex a woman has a had with the father before getting pregnant. Not to be too TMI, but women who have given oral sex many times to the father are much less likely to have pre-eclampsia then other women (and men everywhere let up a collective cheer). The theory is that the women's body becomes used to the fathers DNA or something of that sort (don't quote me, because i read this years ago and it is just my general summary). In my case, that theory holds pretty well as I got pregnant with my first after my husband and I had been dating only a few months. Obviously, I never had sex with baby #5's father. It also explains why women tend to get pre-eclampsia less with subsequent births....

Charis's Mum said...

These are great suggestions! Another one would be, avoid unnecessary inductions. I was induced and had an epidural, but next time I will say no to being induced, unless it's necessary.

CJR said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. I hope #3 will be natural or at least try for natural. I do have GD and had pre-E with my first baby. Wish me luck!
CJR @ The Mami Blog

toi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
toi said...

this is so beautiful. i am on the same weave as you when it comes to giving birth to baby :). thanks for sharing your experience, more women need to read this to be empowered because God designed us for that important task

Kim said...

So inspiring my friend! I never went into labour either time - Deaglan was 10 days overdue and they induced me but still nothing! The second c-section was definitely better than the emergency one but still sometimes I feel a tad sad about missing out on this type of birth.

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