14 Tips for a Natural Birth

The births of my three beautiful children were very different from the traditional American birth experiences that you see in the movies. For starters, as opposed to just the allowance of ice chips, I was permitted to eat food and drink any kind of beverage while I was in labor. In contrast to the traditional supine position on the hospital bed, I labored in any position that was most comfortable for me. My first two babies were born in a tub of water, no interventions were needed and I did not take any medication. My third baby was born while I was in a hands and knees position on the hospital bed.

For this particular post, I will not go into the research and the reasons why I believe that a natural birth is beneficial for babies. You might not want a natural birth, and that’s okay! For those that are interested, I hope that these 14 tips will empower you to have the birthing experience that you desire!

  1. Interview your provider. Try to find a compassionate provider that will help you have the birth that you desire.
  2. Educate yourself. Read birthing books by Ina May Gaskin and watch “The Business of Being Born.”
  3. Eat well. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about foods to eat and foods to avoid.
  4. Take a full, daily dose of supplements (prenatal multivitamin, DHA and probiotic). Ensure that your supplements are high-quality and do not contain GMOs. (See your healthcare provider for guidance.)
  5. Exercise. Research shows that exercise is great for mom and baby. Prenatal yoga was wonderful for my morning sickness. (See your healthcare provider for guidance.)
  6. Encourage your partner’s involvement. My husband attended Bradley classes with me and was ready and willing to make some tough decisions with me during the birth of our third child.
  7. Hire a doula. A doula can be a very helpful and calming person that can act as another advocate for you in the hospital.
  8. Take a local Bradley class. This 12-week class will prepare you very well for a natural birth. The class will teach you about the birthing process, nutrition, prenatal exercises, relaxation techniques, birthing techniques, postpartum information, etc. Most couples that take this class have natural births.
  9. Write a birth plan. With your partner, talk about what the perfect birth looks like to both of you. Write down your plan and discuss your plan with your provider.
  10. Labor at home for as long as you can. If possible, do not go to the hospital or birthing center until you and your provider agree that it is an optimal time to go. It is more comfortable to labor at home. If possible, opt for a home birth!
  11. Play some soothing music. In my third trimester, my husband uploaded some relaxing Hawaiian music into his phone and played it during birth.
  12. Practice and use relaxation techniques. During labor, it really helped me to close my eyes and visualize myself on the beach with my family.
  13. Count during contractions! The discomfort of a contraction peaks at approximately 30 seconds and lasts for approximately 60 seconds. When my contractions started to get stronger, I started to count the seconds. Every time I reached 30 seconds, I felt encouraged because I knew that the worst part of the contraction was likely over. This helped tremendously!
  14. Don’t expend unnecessary energy. When it is time to push the baby out, remember that your body automatically does some of the work on its own. Therefore, don’t think that you have to push so hard that your eyes pop out. When the time comes, follow your provider’s instruction.

No matter what happens during your birth experience, I hope that you will enjoy your new, precious baby blessing! What do you think of natural birthing?

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This post was originally published on September 24, 2018 and updated on June 30, 2019.

My Physician Missed A Lump On My Armpit

When searching for a new healthcare provider, it’s difficult to know which providers are competent, kind, and professional. Sometimes, we just have to hope for the best. When I have to visit a new healthcare provider, this is what I hope for.

I hope for someone that will not miss the small things-or even the big things.

When I was in college, I had a big lump on my armpit that was the size of a kiwi. It was so noticeable that my usually calm and laid-back mom sent me to the doctor right away. When I showed it to my doctor, she said, “I don’t see anything.” She didn’t acknowledge it until I pointed at it.

To this day, I am still scratching my head about this incident. Did she think that I was a hypochondriac and assume that I was being paranoid? Did she forget to put her contacts on? Was she tired? Did she even look the first time?  

I hope for someone that knows who I am-or at least doesn’t confuse my chart with someone else’s chart.

When I was pregnant, I saw an endocrinologist because my thyroid was out of whack. His office seemed to be busy because it took them three or more days to answer questions like, “Does the doctor want me to keep my appointment?” When I finally got a call from a nurse, this is what she said to me: “The doctor says that your thyroid levels look good. Keep taking Synthroid.”

I had never taken Synthroid in my life.

I hope for someone that is kind, humble and open to complementary therapies.

A couple of years ago, I was admitted to the hospital because my arm blew up (I had a crazy allergic reaction on my skin). With chin held high, squinty eyes peering down at me, and an expression on her face that said “I am God,” the Attending Physician snidely asked me questions like, “Why didn’t you see a skin doctor? Why are you taking fish oil?”

Due to my burning eyes (my contacts were old and I was not able to get my glasses from home) and lack of sleep from being monitored throughout the night, I was too much of a mess to explain to her that my insurance would probably not pay for dermatological services–even though my husband and I paid a boatload for the insurance. I was also too tired to explain to her how beneficial fish oil was for me, so I just responded, “I read that fish oil is good.” With a condescending chuckle, she looked back down at her computer keyboard.

I hope for someone that will spend just a tiny bit of extra time with me if I have questions.

Our first pediatrician was very cordial and pleasant. Unfortunately, she spent most of our appointment typing on her computer and a minute or so examining our child. After the minute or so was up, she said, “Thank you, your papers will be at the desk, take care!” She was almost out the door before I stopped her to ask her a question. She scribbled something on my paper and basically ran out of the room.

I don’t have firsthand experience as a physician, but I know that they are forced to have quick appointments; I also know that some physicians feel as if they have to work so fast that they eventually start to see their patients as products on an out-of-control assembly line. Therefore, I don’t really fault this physician for her behavior. Unfortunately, this might just be an example of our broken healthcare system in the U.S.

I hope for someone with compassion.

I personally know two mothers that recently lost their babies in the second or third trimester. So, when I started having abnormal bleeding in my third trimester, I was very fearful for my baby and almost started crying in the midwife’s office. I was embarrassed of being overly emotional and was (unreasonably) ashamed of being a burden on the midwife.

Instead of impatience or lack of compassion, the midwife took my hand and tenderly said to me, “It’s okay. We are going to figure this out. That’s what we are here for.”

I hope for someone that goes above and beyond my expectations.

When my daughter was sick and our regular pediatrician was on vacation, we visited another doctor with his own practice. When I entered the office, the “receptionist” was on the phone. When it was time for the doctor to see my daughter, the same “receptionist” ushered us into the exam room, took my daughter’s vital signs, examined her and called an outside vendor to order lab tests. A few days later, the same “receptionist” called me to see if my daughter was feeling better.

When I visited the office again, the same “receptionist” was talking to one of the dads in the waiting room. At this point, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut and asked, “Why are you doing everything? Is everyone on vacation for the holiday?” He told me that he could not afford his staff anymore. “In the same way that insurance rates are rising for patients, they are rising for us as well.” He went on to say that physicians will probably not be able to afford to have their own practices in the future.

This broke my heart. This kind physician took the time to call me to see if my daughter was okay, even though he had to be the receptionist, medical assistant and physician for his whole private practice.

Do you have a healthcare provider that goes above and beyond your expectations? If you like this blog, consider liking Inspiration for Wellness on Facebook as well (@myinspirationforwellness)!