As our first baby’s due date gets closer, childbirth has been on my mind more and more. My husband and I took a childbirth class a few weeks ago, and I’ve been doing reading and exercises to get ready for the big day.
For a lot of women – myself included – childbirth seems incredibly scary. We hear horror stories from friends and family, and the births depicted on TV and in movies are often long and painful. The fear surrounding birth can really start to color your pregnancy, especially as you get into that third trimester. This is happening, and it’s a little bit terrifying!
With those images in mind, the idea of birthing without drugs seems a little bit crazy, but you do have to wonder: why are humans the only animals for whom birthing is a huge ordeal? And why is birth the only bodily function that we assume is somehow broken?
One of the main points that I picked up in childbirth classes and from reading some amazing books on natural childbirth methods is that birth doesn’t have to be scary, and it doesn’t have to be painful.
What I keep reading and hearing, as I learn more about natural childbirth, is that there are a few main keys to a successful natural birth:
- Re-conditioning yourself. There is a long history of how birthing got to where it is today, which I won’t get into. To make a thousands-of-years-long story short: birth is a natural process, and misogyny and certain medical techniques (most of which doctors don’t use anymore) have turned it into something scary and painful. You have to re-learn what birth is about and learn to trust your body.
- Learning natural birthing techniques. From different positions that are good for you and your baby to breathing and relaxation, this is critical to a natural birth.
- Practice, practice, practice. Those relaxation techniques that you read about in the books below and learn in natural childbirth classes wont’ stick unless you practice them. In your third trimester, it’s a good idea to practice your breathing, meditation, and affirmations daily or at least 3-4 times a week.
- Having a knowledgeable birthing partner. This could be your significant other, your mom, your sibling, or a close friend, but having someone who you trust to support you is key. This person will answer questions from doctors and nurses and help you reach and remain in the relaxed state that makes a natural birth go most smoothly.
So, where is a natural birthing mother-to-be to start? The three books on the next page have really helped me get over my fear of labor and feel prepared and in control.