Many women choose natural childbirth because it’s often the least invasive birth method and there’s less room for potential harm to both mom and baby. Natural labor also offers women a sense of empowerment and accomplishment.
There’s no loss of alertness or sensation and natural labor means women are better able to participate in the birthing of their baby. But the pain management aspect of natural childbirth can be intimidating, especially for first time moms. Here are some tips for making natural childbirth easier.
1. Stay fit during pregnancy
Pregnant women who are in shape tend to have shorter and more manageable births. And since birthing is often a game of endurance, fitness also makes moms better prepared to tolerate child birth. Walk, swim, or take prenatal yoga classes during pregnancy so that your body is ready. Just make sure you get the okay from your doctor or midwife beforehand.
2. Take childbirth classes
Childbirth classes are especially helpful for learning breathing techniques. Look for a small class with fewer than 10 couples and make sure you have a certified instructor.
3. Consider a doula
Doulas help moms (and dads!) through natural childbirth. They answer questions and explain developments as they come up through the course of pregnancy. Doulas provide comfort to moms during labor including breathing and relaxation techniques, massage, and labor positioning as well as subbing in for dads who may need to take a nap in a particularly long labor. After birth, they may help moms begin breastfeeding and support the family in the first few days after labor.
4. Distract yourself
Contractions can last 12 to 14 hours for first time moms, starting with lower abdominal and back cramps. Try and stay calm and avoid focusing on the discomfort. Distract yourself by baking cookies or taking a walk. Taking a bath can also serve to relax tension in the body when contractions begin. Just remember, often it’s a marathon.
5. Believe in your body
Your body is built for delivery. “The pelvis and vaginal tissues were built for delivery, the brain releases endorphins that help with pain, and the fetus has a soft spot on her head so it can mold to fit out of the birth canal,” says Ryan Dickerson, M.D., an obstetrician in Baton Rouge. What’s more, “complications are the exception — not the rule.”
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