You may have your ideal birth plan in mind, but we can’t always predict how labor and delivery will unfold. To better your chances for achieving the natural delivery you want, tick these three items off your prenatal to-do list:
Find the right team
Take the time you need to ensure you find the right health care team for you. When you meet with a doctor or midwife, be sure to ask about their stance on natural childbirth. Some important topics to touch on include:
- Labor induction: If you can find a practice that will wait until 42 weeks before inducing labor, this may be the office for you. Other practitioners may be quick to induce at 41 weeks, not allowing your little one to come on his or her own. Labor induction often kicks off a series of interventions that may ultimately steer you away from the delivery you intended.
- Interventions: Ideally, if you’re hoping for a natural childbirth, you want a doctor or midwife who believes in low intervention during childbirth. Forceps, vacuums and Caesareans certainly have their place, but you’ll want a practice that tries everything else before resorting to them.
- Movement: Ask your potential health care provider about what positions you can use during labor. If he or she responds by saying you’ll be in the traditional stance – lying on your back in a bed – run. Changing positions during labor will help you manage the pain during childbirth and encourage progress. Look for someone who will push you to walk the halls, sit on an exercise ball, squat, lean on your partner, etc.
- Experience: Be sure to ask your doctor or midwife about his or her experience with natural childbirth. Ask about the rates of epidurals and C-sections in his or her practice. While it’s great if you find someone who’s open to following your birth plan, ideally you’ll have a provider who is familiar with natural childbirth successes too.
Consider a doula or birthing coach
A certified doula or birthing coach can help you achieve your labor goals. A doula or birthing coach comes to your home to help you through the early stage of labor, will be there through labor and delivery and even help you transition into those first few hours of motherhood. He or she will help promote feelings of calm and relaxation, help you manage the pain naturally and be a liaison between you and your doctor. Doulas are associated with higher instances of drug-free births and they may even help shorten your labor time.
Labor at home
One of the keys to having success with natural childbirth is staying home as long as possible. Make sure you have your doctor or midwife’s permission to do so first. If you have pregnancy complications or risks, or if your water breaks on its own, you may need to make your way to the hospital sooner. Managing labor at home makes it less likely that you’ll need interventions such as the labor-inducing drug Pitocin. As long as it’s safe and you feel comfortable doing so, arriving at the hospital in the later stages of labor will help you stay on track with your plans.
In what ways are you planning for labor and delivery? Share your experience with us below.