10 tips for a natural birth

Author: Canadian Living


10 tips for a natural birth

How you choose to deliver your baby is a very personal decision. Everyone delivers a baby differently; no two experiences are exactly the same. If natural childbirth is your goal -- and many people believe the risks of pain-relieving drugs are just not worth it for mother and child -- here are some ways to help make it happen:

1. Work with a doula or a midwife. Your doula will be your advocate and support system at a very intense time.

2. Take prenatal yoga classes. They will help you build physical strength and develop pain-management techniques. The yoga also will help you understand that your body was built for giving birth.

3. Practice Kegels during yoga and other times of the day. That will help you gain awareness about your body.

4. Write a birth plan. It will help your doctor and medical staff understand your wishes and needs. Many good templates are available online.

5. Tour the hospital and understand all of the pain medications that you will be offered. Discuss all of these options with your doula and your partner before you arrive at the hospital.

6. Take a childbirth class. It will help you visualize labour and gain confidence.

7. Get a prenatal massage. It will help keep your body loose and your spirits high!

8. Use aromatherapy oils. Organic essential oils, such as lavender, rose, and ylang-ylang, can be very calming. Energizing oils include grapefruit, spearmint and orange. Consult with your doctor about which essential oils are safe for pregnancy. Keeping a small fabric pouch with a nice range of essential oils allows you to mix and match scents based on your needs. Be sure to buy organic essential oils. These can be used during massage and even during labour to relax you.

9. Discuss labour with your mother. It's common for experiences to be similar.

10. Remember that every contraction will be followed by a rest period, during which natural endorphins will counterbalance the work of the contraction.

One of the benefits of natural childbirth is the experience of sensations that could never be felt at any other time. You and your partner can be totally involved and totally bonded with your baby in a unique way. Some claim labour is even shorter without the use of pain-relieving or labor-inducing drugs.

No matter what path you choose for your labour, embark on this journey with confidence and faith that your own path to a healthy labour is the right one.

Page 1 of 2 -- Learn how to care for your newborn baby with expert advice on page 2

Once you arrive home from the hospital (or if you delivered your baby at home), you will have a new set of responsibilities -- taking care of your bundle of joy! Babies aren't always easy, though, and many infants seriously rattle their parents' nerves even before they fully open their eyes. During the first few days and weeks, be keenly aware that things you've taken for granted may no longer be true. Also be aware that sleep deprivation makes minor problems and stresses feel much worse.

Coping with a fussy baby
If you have a fussy baby, one natural soothing remedy is "gripe water," a herbal remedy that helps settle a baby's tummy. It is available at health food stores; consult your pediatrician before using it. Swaddling in an organic cotton blanket is a tried-and-true technique. Pacifiers are invaluable to many mothers, but they often are made of synthetic materials and cause problems if you're trying to determine when sucking means hunger and when it is just a comfort mechanism. (A baby who sucks on your pinky turned upside down and lets go after a time is just soothing herself. A truly hungry baby will "root" -- open her mouth, look desperately for food, and cry incessantly until she gets what she wants.) Screaming during diaper changes can be remedied by hanging or placing a hair dryer near the changing table and turning it on during changes. Directing the warm air toward your baby help eliminate diaper rash, and the sound and warmth seem to help a baby cope. A low-EMF hair dryer is available online.

Nursing comfortably
Finding nursing poses that work well for you and your baby can also create some challenges in the early days. If you possibly can, just try to relax. Your baby senses your stress, and if you are calm she can find peace. Sleep deprivation because of nursing can make you irritable, as can sore or cracked nipples -- apply some lanoline ointment, available at most drugstores. Cocoa butter, shea butter and mango butter can help sooth sore breasts as well. The stresses of nursing can be eased by aromatherapy, sitz and herbal baths (they also promote mom's healing), soothing music and a comfortable chair. Mostly, have faith that you and your baby will soon find a rhythm. When you do, nursing will shift from a chore to a joy.

If you're sore from delivery, don't be shy about getting a postnatal massage. A specialized therapist in craniosacral or other body work can help deal with the trauma of birth for mom and baby.

Dealing with family and friends
Last but not least, ask for help! It may take some time to get your body and mind back. That's OK; you've done quite a bit of work. Until you're feeling back together, lean on family and friends. One of the best ways to help a new mother is to deliver her food, wave, and leave. Don't be shy about asking this of friends or family members who say, "If there's anything I can do..." If you're asked what kind of meals you might enjoy, go for simple, natural whole foods that are high in nutritional value and low in sugar. A large pot of soup is always a good bet, because it is easily stored and reheated. If you're given an opening, ask for help with the housecleaning and laundry, too. Be sure you have nontoxic cleaning supplies on hand for the volunteers.

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Excerpted from Organic Baby: Simple Steps for Healthy Living by Kimberly Rider. Copyright 2007 by Kimberly Rider. Excerpted with permission from Chronicle Books. All right reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced without permission in writing from the publisher.


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10 tips for a natural birth