Planning a Natural Birth: Your Top Three Priorities
Updated: May 3
Congratulations on your pregnancy! If you are planning a natural birth, here are three ways to set yourself up for success.
1) Choose care providers who are truly aligned with natural birth.
2) Set up your baby and your body to follow the path of least resistance with Optimal Fetal Positioning.
3) Prepare to sustain yourself in labor by resting, drinking, and eating.
Midwives are trained and skilled in supporting pregnant people through a healthy pregnancy and vaginal birth. Out-of-hospital midwives specialize exclusively in unmedicated birth. Doulas provide physical, emotional, and informational support during labor and birth. These care providers are crucial teammates in natural birth!
Obstetricians are expert surgeons and care providers for truly high risk pregnancy and birth. If you require a cesarean section, you will need an OB to perform the surgery. Unfortunately, many obstetricians have few opportunities to attend unmedicated births. And OB prenatal care is often rather hasty, clinical, and less personal than appointments with a midwife, who will take the time to inquire about your diet and your emotional well-being and answer all of your questions.
If you choose a practice and a birth place where natural birth is the norm, the nurses and other staff will be accustomed to families coming in with doulas and birth plans and may even have pursued training in supporting people through natural birth. Usually, there are a few hospitals or practices with higher rates of natural births and VBACs (vaginal birth after cesarean) in a given area. Ultimately, choose to give birth where you feel safest and most comfortable. Don't settle! Find your sweet spot. Even if it means changing providers or insurance plans.
Optimal Fetal Positioning
There is a sacred geometry to the way a baby lies in the uterus and descends through the pelvis. Most commonly, the path of least resistance and greatest space involves the baby lying head down, with the back toward the front, left of the pregnant belly. Of course, there are many healthy variations to this general rule. You can help your baby settle into the best position for birth by choosing upright sitting positions with your knees lower than your hips, spending time on hands and knees, and avoiding creating a hammock of your back (as in slumping on the couch). Regular body work like craniosacral therapy or chiropractic care with a provider who specializes in pregnancy will help release tension and re-establish alignment to make more space for baby (and comfort for you!). Spinning Babies is one of my favorite resources for promoting OFP. Read their site and do the exercises!
Sustenance in Labor
The most common reason for homebirth transfers to the hospital is maternal exhaustion. Sometimes it feels terrible to lie down in labor. Early labor can be so exciting, we forget to attend to our basic needs. And eating can feel gross. But since we don't know how long labor will take, we must sustain ourselves! First of all, try to ignore your early labor as long as possible. Sleep as much as you can. When you can no longer lie down through contractions, find a restful position like knees on a pillow, torso draped over couch or yoga ball, and ask your partner or doula to help support you so you can fall asleep in between. Drink electrolyte-balancing fluids between every contraction. If you can keep your blood sugar and electrolytes stable, you can ward off nausea, continue to take in nourishment and keep it down, and avoid the yuck cycle. Miso broth or chicken broth or coconut water or diluted juice with a little salt and a scoop of collagen powder are all good options. Keep eating as normally as you can. When you can't anymore, consider what you might be able to take little bites or sips of for nourishment - a smoothie, some yogurt, a protein bar, salty pretzels, grapes, a spoonful of peanut butter and honey - eat something, please!
Many blessings on your journey. Keep checking back for more posts!
And if you would like to work with me as your doula, midwife-in-training, or craniosacral therapist, please be in touch!