HOW TO: Prepare for Natural Childbirth

books, birthing, natural childbirth, parenting

1. Read up!

This does not mean read every blog or news story that comes your way about giving birth. Those tend to be attention grabbers and rarely reflect reality: “Woman gives birth in elevator!” “Woman has baby during rush hour traffic!” Of course some births happen like that, but the majority are not as dramatic (thankfully!). Reading tried-and-true favorite books such as Spiritual Midwifery from Ina May Gaskin, Birthing From Within, Ricki Lake’s Your Best Birth, or even new tomes like Alicia Silverstone’s upcoming pregnancy and green mama-related book, The Kind Mama, offer a more measured, researched approach to giving birth. We also recommend taking notes or keeping a journal to keep track of what you want to get out of your birth experience or what you want to learn more about. We encourage you to talk with friends and family members regarding their birth experiences, just as long as you remember that everyone and every birthing experience is vastly different! Any of these resources (or attending birth education classes) can be a good way to delve into varied aspects of childbirth, from hypnobirthing to using rebozos during labor.

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Photo © Flickr user theogeo

2. Witness some actual natural births.

If you’re like many of us, you have never actually seen someone give birth. Sorry, fictional movies don’t count! Because most of us no longer live in societies where women go through the birthing process in the company of other women in our homes or dwellings or even in special birthing tents, few of us (unless we’re in the medical field) have watched someone go through labor and delivery. My doula (see step 3) let me borrow several DVDs before I had my son, and it was extremely helpful to see the experiences of several other women going through the beautiful and intense process I was about to go through! We also recommend The Business of Being Born and More Business of Being Born to educate yourselves on birthing environments and your choices.

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Photo © flickr user The Lawleys

3. Hire a doula and/or midwife to help you on your birthing journey.

Just to be clear, there are distinct differences between these two roles: a doula offers non-medical support, while a midwife is trained to actually deliver babies. So, you should strongly consider hiring a doula, a midwife, or both when planning your baby’s birth. We’ve written multiple times about when you should hire a doula and how to choose the right one as well as about midwives and birthing centers and their benefits. Choosing a natural childbirth experience doesn’t necessarily mean you need to deliver your baby by yourself in the bathtub in your home by candlelight: you can have a natural experience at a birthing center or a hospital as well. Above all importance in hiring a doula and/or a midwife is finding someone who you feel comfortable with, who wants you to have the best birth experience possible, and is willing to act as an advocate for you and your health. And keep in mind that at various medical facilities, there are different rules: some hospitals rely only on doctors, others welcome midwives as part of their staff. Make sure that all parties involved are aware of any boundaries BEFORE your big day. My doula was a great resource: she also has three kids of her own so it felt reassuring to have an experienced woman on my side!

RELATED | HOW TO: Find a Birth Doula

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