I do not like hospitals. I do not like going to the doctor. I literally get high blood pressure when I go for a routine check up. I used to dread getting my blood pressure taken for fear of it being a high number (and inevitably my anxiety and stress made it high). Anyway, when I got pregnant with my first baby I was super excited but then immediately scared about all the visits to the doctor, the needles, the poking + prodding and most of all the thought of having a c-section at the end of the whole thing. I was determined from the onset to have a natural labor and birth. I was fortunate to not encounter any complications during both my pregnancies and births and I’m grateful for that. Many women have no desire to go through birth un-medicated (and I totally get that)…while others are beyond determined to birth their babies at home in a tub. Different strokes, right? I am happy that hospitals are more accommodating to the women looking for little-to-no intervention and that they are recognizing the benefits of natural birthing to both mom and baby. And by the way, I think every birth is beautiful and am not judging anyone for the way they birthed their babies. I am only speaking about my experience ; ) I did what was in my control to plan for the outcome I wanted and below are some of the strategies I used:
Education: I went to a birth class in my 3rd trimester. It was a weekend long “retreat” style class that Aaron and I attended together. We learned everything from how to tell what a contraction is, the anatomy of birth, what happens during labor, techniques for pain management, how to write a birth plan, when to call the doctor, what to expect in the hospital. It was intensive but so worth it. I needed to understand how the hell this baby was coming out! The birth educator had videos, real life props (yes she had a pelvis and a baby doll and showed us exactly how a head fits through). But it gave Aaron and I the baseline knowledge in common language for us to know what the heck to do when I felt that first contraction.
Exercise: I started off my pregnancy training for a half marathon. I was cleared by my doc to run so I did. But I was also SO tired that first trimester so halfway through I stopped running daily and dropped it down to a few easy jogs a week. I continued going to my vinyasa flow yoga class and modified my practice as my belly grew. I walked every single day for at least 30 minutes. Walking is the best way to get exercise during pregnancy. In my third trimester I switched over to a prenatal yoga class and continued my walking.
Prenatal yoga: I stated out doing my normal vinyasa flow class but halfway through my second trimester I switched to a prenatal focused class. The poses were all geared towards a pregnant woman’s body and shifted with each trimester. I did supported inversions up until the week I gave birth which felt AMAZING. Getting upside down and relieving gravity’s pull on my hips and pelvis was awesome. Make sure you find an experience teacher who understands a pregnant woman’s body and can safely guide your movement. This was so important in getting my body ready for labor and birth. Plus as a Yogi you already have an understanding of breath control which comes in handy during labor!
Prenatal massage: I got an amazing prenatal massage right before my due date for both pregnancies by Regina (if you live in Denver you must see her, she is magic). Massage is such an amazing tool and set my body up for a successful labor. I went into labor both times after seeing Regina. It relaxed my body, relaxed the baby and she accessed a few pressure points to induce labor. There were some other techniques I tried to get labor started naturally for my second time around!
Essential Oils: I used young living oils throughout both my pregnancies. I rubbed lavender + coconut oil on my bell daily and didn’t get any stretch marks at all! I used peppermint for nausea by inhaling it directly, diffusing it and rubbing it on my stomach and chest. Aaron gave me relaxing foot massages with Peace + Calming. I clutched a bottle of frankincense during my entire labor- it literally was my rock. It is such a grounding, energizing and spiritual oil it really got me into a meditative state of total focus. My doula Christen brought a bag of oils to help me during labor- she used Deep Relief for my head during transition. She rubbed oils on my lower back for counter-pressure during contractions. I put a few drops of Gentle Baby in my bath. I set my diffuser up in the hospital room and every single nurse and doc came into our space and commented on how calming and peaceful it was!
Perineal massage: This one is a little weird but definitely worth it to avoid tearing the perineal muscle and needing stiches right after giving birth. Just google this and find a reputable video that shows you the technique. Have your partner help you out and start this about 3 weeks before your due date!
Posture: Going for a natural birth depends a lot on the position of the baby at the end of pregnancy. The ideal position is head down and spine to your belly. I was working full time up until the day before I went into labor. My job was mostly at a desk and that position is not ideal to get baby head down. I sat on an exercise ball for the second and third trimesters as often as I could. When I was home watching tv I took regular breaks to sit forward, move my hips and make space for the babe to get into the ideal position. You don’t have to be crazy about this, but just be mindful of how often you are sitting, slouched back and not moving regularly.
Nutrition: I definitely ate an ice cream sundae with melted peanut butter most nights of my pregnancy and defintley drank a glass of red wine occasionally. But for the most part I ate very well. I filled up on green leafy veggies like spinach, kale and swiss chard. I ate salmon and eggs. I drank herbal teas. I drank TONS of water throughout my pregnancy and also during labor. Think of labor as a marathon, at some point during the run you need nourishment. I took honey sticks, granola bars and ice pops with me to the hospital (even though they weren’t allowed, my doula snuck me bites). I brought a water bottle with a straw to the hospital so it was easy to sip water throughout my labor.
Mindset: I decided that I wanted to deliver my baby without medication. I firmly believed I could do it. My mind was set on the goal and usually when I set my mind to something I can do it. I did, however give myself permission to allow the best possible outcome for me and the baby. So, if it didn’t go my way I was open to a different plan. I prepared a few mantras in my head, “women have been doing this since the beginning of time” and “my body knows exactly what to do” and “this is what my body is designed to do”. I told Aaron my intent was to have a natural birth and not to offer me pain meds unless I said the code word! I also had Christen, my doula as an amazing support person. We met a few times before my labor and talked through lots of scenarios. She was so valuable in keeping my mindset positive and focused.
So there you go, some things that worked for me to achieve a non-medicated, happy birth ….good luck mama! You got this : )