Giving birth naturally has always been top of my bucket list so I felt super blessed when I was able to do just that with my second son, Sonny, a few weeks back. It’s definitely not something every woman looks to go through – birth is SUCH a personal and unique event and every woman has entirely different needs and wants plus there is just no way you can ever fully know or control what will happen during birth (we had planned a home birth, which we couldn’t do in the end) but I know for me, giving birth drug -free was something I deeply wanted to do my best to experience.
Unlike however those stories you hear of women having a baby from start to finish in 35 minutes, or in the taxi on the way to hospital (I always think those kind of births are the easiest kind in many ways), my natural birth did not just ‘happen’ to me. I really prepared for it during my pregnancy and become quite intensely focused on it in the final weeks. By the end, I almost felt like I was revising for an exam and the only thing left for me to do was to take it and leave the rest up to destiny.
So following some lovely comments on some Instagram posts mentioning some of this preparation, I thought I’d do a little blog post outlining exactly what I did in the hope that some of it may help other pregnant women also looking to have a natural birth. I am absolutely no expert but sometimes it just takes a bit of inspiration from another mother to make a difference – I know a lot of what I did was from other womens’ advice. I’ve divided my tips into what I did pre labour, and what I did once I was in the early stages of labour.
PRE LABOUR – Active *Relaxation* and *Environment*
-Almost as soon as I fell pregnant, I started reading natural birthing books to start filling my head with positive and natural birth stories. The ones I recommend are Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and Birthing from Within.
-I took a Hypnobirthing course with the Positive Birth Company and practiced most evenings in the weeks leading up to my birth either listening to relaxation scripts on my headphones or having Sam read one out loud. I truly believe that this helped train my body and mind into a trusting, relaxing mode which would facilitate a natural birth.
-I took some pregnancy yoga classes with Jill Miller from the Active Birth Centre. They were just drop in, so I could go as and when I wanted to but again this was another way I would relax, be able practice my breathing and learn about natural birthing positions and mantras.
-In the final weeks of pregnancy I also went swimming as this is said to get the baby into an optimal position for giving birth, and is another way for mama to relax.
-I wrote quite a detailed birth plan – this was less for other people and just another way for me to concretise my wishes. By writing them down, they become even more real.
-I took time to think about my birthing space. By this I mean the environment I would be in once I went into labour. I am someone that is very affected by atmosphere so whether at hospital or at home, I knew that my surroundings would be very important to me so I painted positive affirmations in bright paint on small pieces of card to put up around me. I also had friends and family paint some too as a way to channel some of their energy too. I found this SO helpful during labour – particularly when I was lagging and needed a boost and would look up and see some optimistic words staring back at me without having to ask anyone.
-I created two Spotify playlists as again I knew that music would be a powerful force for me. One playlist was energetic and upbeat, and the other quieter, more chilled out music. Both served their purpose both before and during labour to at times energize me and at other times calm me down.
-I set up an incense burner which I lit once I went into labour to give off a soothing and relaxing smell.
-Soft lighting was paramount for me so I had candles and fairy lights ready if I would give birth at home and electric tea lights for hospital which I ended up using and which truly helped create the calm environment I knew that I needed. In fact, the first thing I did when we got into the room at the hospital was ask for the lights to be switched down low.
DURING LABOUR – *Distraction* and *Action*
-Got other kids? I hung out with my toddler Jack for as long as I could in the early stages of labour. I gave him breakfast and sat and played with him which helped distract me and pass some time.
-I started honing into my environment; so I switched my music on and lit my incense.
-I watched (part of) a funny film – another way to distract myself.
-I stayed active by going for a long walk and bouncing on my ball.
-I started sniffing clary sage gently to bring on contractions.
-I also (although this sounds contradictory) rested to preserve energy for later so took myself to bed to nap for 45 minutes.
Other things you could do: ask your partner to give you a light massage, use a tens machine, bake a cake, paint. Go with your instinct…anything to keep you calm!
I hope you find a few of these tips helpful; for me, I know that preparation was key to bringing about my natural birth and it was something that I had to really channel in to. Got any other tips you can share? I’d love to hear them….
Best of luck and most importantly, try to stay calm xxx
P.S Here’s my birth story and below is a short video from my labour experience if you fancy a peek.