Preparing for a natural birth experience was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever accomplished, but there were some tools I learned along the way that helped the process go a lot smoother. A few weeks before our little girl arrived though, we had our maternity pictures taken at the Del Mar Cliffs by Tayler-Ashley Photography. Tayler photographed both our engagement and wedding, so it was only fitting that she would capture this next big moment in our lives. I was definitely nervous about having pictures taken with all of the weight I’ve gained (sixty pounds!) and a lack of self-confidence, but I am SO glad that we did. I’ll treasure these images forever, especially because I wasn’t able to have any taken during my first pregnancy. Thank you so much Tayler!
*All images taken by Tayler Ashley Photography.
With so much fear surrounding birth in hospitals right now, I thought I would share my knowledge in case some of you mamas are interested in alternatives. Throughout my second pregnancy, I focused on preparing for a natural labor at the UCSD La Jolla birth center. During this time, you can look into local birth centers or even be prepared to birth at home. Just remember that your body is MEANT to do this anywhere at anytime!
Why A Natural Birth?
My first birth did NOT go as planned and it honestly left me disappointed for years. As soon as the experience was over, I knew the next time I became pregnant would be different. I planned to immediately hire a doula to help guide me through the process – which was essential.
I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes for the second time. In order to deliver naturally with the midwives in the birth center I had to go into labor by 41 weeks. Because of this, I did as much research possible throughout this pregnancy and used a lot of different methods to naturally prepare my body and induce labor. At 39 weeks and 1 day, after climbing a building of stairs, my water broke on the toilet and my baby girl came into this world only four (very) short hours later.
It’s important to remember that pregnancy is not a medical condition, nor an illness that needs to be treated. It’s something that our bodies are literally designed to do. The body knows how to deliver that baby just as well as it knows how to grow it. All we have to do is step aside and let our intuition and our anatomy do its job.
The most important thing I learned from a natural delivery was to listen to myself throughout each and every step of the way. I promise that if you can remember to do this, you will be amazed at what you are capable of.
- Hire a doula! – This would probably be the most important and beneficial thing you can do in order to have an all-natural labor and delivery. Even if you are opting for medication, doulas can provide so much added comfort.
- Gain as much knowledge and expertise around birth as possible. – I highly recommend these books, as well as looking into these websites and courses held at The Birth Education Center in San Diego.
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
- Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley
- Labor Like A Goddess by Alexandria Moran + Lauren Mahana
- Birthing from Within by Pam England
- Hypnobirthing website
- Look into birth centers in your area. – These can either be located inside of the hospital, or there are many offsite such as Best Start.
Prepare your cervix for an on-time labor and speedy delivery (after 36 weeks):
- Visit a Chiropractor and/or Acupuncturist. – Both can help to move baby into optimal positioning and support pelvic alignment. I was lucky enough to find an amazing acupuncturist that specializes in pregnancy and postpartum.
- Relax your vagina. – Allow the muscles to fully soften and envision it as being “floppy and fluid”, instead of stiff. I completely stopped kegels and would constantly check in to make sure I was not holding things tight down there during the last few months of pregnancy. My husband and I joked near the end that one day my baby would just fall right out – and she practically did!
- Consume dates and Raspberry Leaf Tea. – Both are proven to soften the cervix. I added dates to my morning smoothies and it was surprisingly delicious!
- Have sex! – The prostaglandins in semen cause cervical ripening, promoting an on-time labor and delivery.
Soften your mind:
- Repeat affirmations to yourself. – I stated, “My body opens easily and effortlessly” for the last two months of my pregnancy. At 38 weeks I was already 4 centimeters dilated and after my water broke a week later, my baby was out in only four hours!
- Visualization. – Remember that your vagina is able to grow to the size needed. This is not something weird or unnatural! You can imagine your vagina as a large gaping hole, as is depicted in many early images and sculptures. You can also visualize how you would like your labor and delivery to go. Although this is most likely to change drastically, it will create a positive headspace.
- Watch birthing videos. – But not the ones you hear about with the woman screaming her head off! I followed @birtheducationcenter on Instagram and watched all of their videos, especially their informative series. This puts birth in a different light and creates a positive mindset.