What Is Natural Birth &
How To Prepare For It?
How To Prepare For It?
C-section, epidural or natural birth: which do you choose?
It’s not a decision that any woman takes lightly. Some are influenced by their mother’s birth stories. For example, women whose mothers had difficult births often opt for a c-section, whereas those with easy labours try for natural childbirth.
Sometimes the decision is a little out of your control. For example, when baby is too large, you’re giving birth to twins, or your baby is lying in a breech position. Under these circumstances, your doctor is likely to advise a caesarean. If you really had your heart set on natural labour, this can be bitterly disappointing but remember, what matters most is bringing your baby safely into this world.
And there are occasions when women change their minds. You may have wanted to have a water birth only to discover the water doesn’t soothe you. Or you had hoped for natural labour only to realise you’re not enjoying the experience.
Know that it’s perfectly acceptable to change your plans. Giving birth is something you want to look back on with pride, joy, and a sense of accomplishment. So to help you make the right decision, here’s what you need to know about natural birth.
What is natural birth?
Natural childbirth or natural labour is the process of giving birth to a baby without medication: that means no epidural or pethidine. Women with low-risk pregnancies are most likely to request a drug-free birth.
But why do women choose to put themselves through what is a painful and, at times, scary experience?
Reasons to have a natural birth?
- Typically, moms that have ‘natural birth’ spend less time pushing.
- You can choose the position you’re most comfortable in: on all fours, squatting, lying on your back. If you have an epidural, you’re bed-bound thereafter.
- Your recovery time is quicker than moms who opt for an elective c-section.
- There’s less chance of vaginal tearing. Having said that, many women who give birth naturally still have episiotomies. If your doctor suspects you might tear, they will cut you along your vaginal area. It’s easier to stitch and heals quicker.
- There’s no risk of introducing medication into your unborn baby’s system. Some pain medications can cause your baby’s heart rate to drop, or your baby could go into distress.
- Pain medication can also, at times, slow down your labour progress.
Now that you know the benefits of giving birth naturally, how bad is the pain?
How painful is natural labour?
It really does depend on the woman. Natural labour is a pain that’s difficult to describe. It can take your breath away and make you feel nauseous. Some women relate it to really bad cramps. Others will tell you it was the most painful experience of their life.
But it’s also quickly forgotten once your baby is placed in your arms.
So whether you need to grit your teeth and breathe through the pain of contractions or scream and curse, do what you have to feel in control.
And if you decide that natural labour is too painful, speak to your doctor or the midwife on call about pain intervention. Alternatively, call Welwitschia Hospital on +264 64 218 911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment. You can also find a gynecologist here.
How to prepare for natural childbirth?
We’ve assembled five ways to help you prepare for natural labour.
1. Speak to other mothers.
One of the best ways to find out what to expect is to speak to other moms. Ask about their experience. If they had a Caesarean or natural labour? Whether they had a home birth or gave birth in a hospital? If they requested an epidural? Most moms will be more than willing to share their birth experiences. Research online or purchase books on expecting. You’ll discover a host of information that will help make your decision easier. Just don’t let fear determine your birth plan
2. Attend antenatal classes
Possibly the best way to prepare for natural childbirth is to attend antenatal classes. A registered midwife usually gives these classes, but retired gynaecologists may run some.
During this eight-week program, you’ll learn everything you need to know about your body’s changes, what to expect once your body goes into labour, and how to look after your baby in the first few weeks after giving birth.
It’s best that you and your partner attend these classes. At Welwitschia we offer antenatal classes. You can learn more about our Dear Baby Programme here.
3. Invest in Lamaze classes
It might sound ridiculous, but breathing can seriously help you manage your pain levels during labour. Often when we’re in pain, we tend to hold our breath. This prolongs the pain because you’re fighting your own body.
Instead, learning how to control your breath can ease labour contractions. So organise Lamaze classes. These often form part of antenatal classes.
4. Consider alternative pain-free interventions, such as meditation
Some women have claimed to experience pain-free births simply by learning how to meditate. These techniques have been known to help labouring moms remain calm. It might be worth investigating.
5. Hire a doula or midwife to see you through labour
As much as your husband or partner wants to be your support, they’re not trained. Labour is an entirely new experience for them, and it can be overwhelming.
Investing in a doula or personal midwife can be massively beneficial to your labour experience. These women will work with you prior to your due date, coaching you through what to expect. They’ll comfort you during labour, often easing your pain with massage or reminding you to breathe during painful contractions. They’ll also be able to check where you are in the labour process.
If you’re giving birth in a hospital, a midwife will be on call, but they’ll be flitting from one room to the next. If you’d like individual attention, it’s best to hire an independent midwife.
What if I can’t handle the pain of natural childbirth?
The truth is you can’t anticipate how painful labour will be. And while it’s admirable to want to give birth naturally, you also want the delivery of your child to be a great experience.
Many women have planned to give birth drug-free only to change their minds mid-labour. The key is not to leave it too late, as anaesthetists won’t administer an epidural if you’re 8cm or more dilated.
But if you find you can’t handle the pain, don’t be disappointed. You’re still incredibly brave and strong, and no one will think less of you.
There really is nothing to be ashamed about asking for an epidural or pethidine. Birth plans often change during the labour process, and you need to be prepared for this. Some moms can labour for hours only to be rushed to the theatre for an emergency caesarean.
Instead, focus on the end goal: bringing your new baby safely into the world.
What to expect after giving birth naturally?
1. You might find you’re exhausted
Labour takes a physical toll on your body, not to mention an emotional toll. It’s a scary, wonderful rollercoaster. You’ve just pushed a watermelon out of your body, so don’t be surprised if you want to nap. And don’t fight it. You need your rest. So when the baby sleeps, make sure you nap.
2. You’ll be sweaty
Whether you were in labour for a few hours or days, you’ll want a bath. Labour is messy. Your hair will likely be plastered to your face from sweating, and there will be blood. It’s all part of giving birth naturally. But once your new bundle of joy is well-fed and settled, get cleaned up. You’ll feel revitalised.
3. You might be sore
The area around your vagina might feel bruised and tender. To prevent vaginal tearing, some women are given episiotomies. If your baby was stuck or their heart rate dropped during birth, your doctor might have used forceps or suction to help get your little one out safely. You don’t want your stitches to get infected. So take regular saltwater baths, and ice the stitches. It will speed along your recovery.
It’s time to finalise your birth plan, especially if you’ve reached the 30-week mark. Speak to your doctor about who will be on call and the kind of one-on-one attention you’re likely to receive. Based on this discussion, you may want to make alternative arrangements, such as investing in a doula or freelance midwife.
As you near your due date, you might need to revisit your birth plan. Is this still what you want and what’s best for your baby? If your doctor believes there’s no cause for concern, then all that’s left to do is pack your hospital bag.
If you have questions, contact Welwitschia Hospital. You can find a doctor here.
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