Our friends at Family Beginnings Birthing Center believe childbirth is a natural process and a spiritual journey for you and your family. They are not only equipped for, but fully supportive of moms looking for a medicine-free experience, and shared some perspective on what helps moms have the natural birth experience they desire.
Trust your body.
Jalana Lazar, a certified nurse midwife from Premier Health says that one of the most important things you can remember is, “Trust your body and the labor process. Avoid induction unless medically necessary.”
Part of building this trust in your body and yourself is proper preparation before the big day arrives. This preparation is mental as well as physical. “There’s a lot of fear around childbirth. That’s the hardest part for most people. Part of it is trying to prepare yourself and not have fear be your dominant emotion.” Lazar said. “Fear is associated with pain, but when it comes to birth, it’s not helpful.”
Part of preparing your mind might also include practicing meditation or mindfulness techniques, knowledge that can prove useful in labor. Lazar said that some mamas even do a quirky little exercise with an ice cube. They’ll hold an ice cube until it starts to get uncomfortable. Then they’ll hold it a bit longer. While the discomfort of a cold ice cube isn’t comparable to labor, making yourself uncomfortable – and then practicing ways to deal with it – can stretch those mental muscles prior to the birth.
Childbirth classes are also a vital part of your mental and physical preparation. If you are planning a medicine-free birth at Family Beginnings, you’ll need to attend a one-hour orientation class where you and your partner will tour the birth center, hear about the philosophy of Family Beginnings and do the required paperwork. Ideally, you should attend this class during your second trimester, around 22 to 32 weeks. In addition to the orientation, first-time parents, or anyone that is not prepared for natural labor are required to take a class focused on natural childbirth. Sign up early, because this class will give you the opportunity to think about any certain method or technique you would like to use during labor.
Lazar also advises seeking out positive childbirth narratives and avoiding the negative ones. (CMB Mom Tip: If someone sees your pregnant belly and says, “Oh gosh, let me tell you about the terrible experience my aunt’s cousin’s neighbor had,” go ahead and run (or waddle) away from them.)
And keep in mind that no matter how many birth stories you hear, yours will be different.
“It’s really the ability to believe that most of the time, things follow a pretty normal pattern and that pattern is different for every single person.” Lazar said.
Additionally, a key part of your preparation is spending some time on a birth plan and discussing it with your provider and the birth center staff, prior to arriving for the birth. It’s vital to go over your priorities ahead of time to be sure that you and your health care providers share the same philosophy.
“Hopefully, you’ve sought out a birth professional that is in line with your needs. If you have a caregiver that you trust, they’ll promote what you want and need.” Lazar said. “And that’s definitely more important than anything you’ve written down.”
Lazar stresses the importance of taking some time and prioritizing your plan, but at the same time, trying to remain flexible. Think of your birth plan as a way to organize your thinking for what you would like to happen.
“The point of the birth plan is a guide for what the most important things are for you. Think of it as a guide rather than a rulebook. If you’re too stringent, it can be a set up for despair. ”
Labor is hard work. Birth, although a wonderful, amazing miracle, is also hard work. You’ll want to surround yourself with people who can encourage you through it all.
Your midwife is not just your partner in childbirth; these medical professionals tailor care to each of their patients. When you have your baby at Family Beginnings and enlist the services of a midwife, she will work with you to achieve the birth experience you want. She will be with you as you labor, during delivery and after your baby is born. She will provide both emotional and physical support as well as tend to your and your baby’s health care needs.
Of course, you’ll also want a trusted support person for company, humor, massage and encouragement. Although this person will be your biggest support, they too will need some back-up, so it is often helpful to have another team member to support you both. Use of a doula or someone who has been through natural birth can give you both the extra help you need. One of the best things about Family Beginnings is that all these folks are welcome, so be sure to talk to your provider early in your pregnancy so they can help guide you in your options for childbirth.
Choose the right environment.
Another key to your medicine-free delivery, according to Lazar, is a relaxing environment. What that environment looks like will be different for everyone, but can include music, aromatherapy, low lights, freedom to move around and access to water therapy. At Family Beginnings, labor and birth take place in a home-like setting with your family present – whether you’re having a water birth or birthing in your comfortable queen size bed.
Hydrotherapy works best during active labor. It takes your mind off the pain. A jetted tub or shower helps to relax muscles and offers mental and physical relief. The buoyancy of being in the water helps you feel less heavy and this feeling of weightlessness can help reduce fatigue. Each suite at Family Beginnings is equipped with a Jacuzzi tub.
Other common methods for pain relief during natural childbirth include:
- Breathing techniques
- Changing position
- Using heat on the lower back and cold on the forehead
- Using a labor ball
- Listening to music
As part of your birth plan, discuss your preferred pain relief methods with your healthcare professional before labor begins. Doing this ahead of time and developing an understanding of the options, risk and benefits, can help you feel prepared and not confused or rushed into a decision in the moment. Also, try to keep in mind that you are not in control of what is happening in your body. You may be in control of how you react to the pain, but childbirth is one of those things that we just have to let happen.
Lazar says, “Sometimes moms who are drawn to natural birth are also moms who tend to be a more Type A personality. With birth, letting go of a little bit of the rigidness can be helpful.”
These pain management techniques can be used in various birth environments, not just in natural birth centers. Even those mamas who have some mitigating factors or health challenges can work with their providers to have a natural birth, with the necessary modifications. Lazar tell us, “Sometimes people think they can’t have a natural birth because they fall into certain parameters. We’ve had women with high blood pressure or fetal birth restrictions that we’ve co-managed with physicians. Those patients aren’t necessarily unable to have the birth they want with some modifications.”
Once baby arrives, however he or she arrives, your first moments with your new addition are very special. Since the folks at Family Beginnings want to maintain that happy bubble for you, postpartum care includes 24-hour rooming-in with no separation of the family unless complications arise. If there are complications, emergency medical care and a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) are available just down the hall. Family Beginnings also supports you in breastfeeding; therefore, pacifiers or formula supplements are not given without parental consent or medical necessity. Typically, new mamas can anticipate staying anywhere from six to 48 hours.
Your birth experience is one of the stories you’ll be telling for the rest of your life and Family Beginnings wants it to be full of the people you love, in an environment that feels like home and has extra support should the need arise. Feeling safe, supported, and encouraged in a medicine-free birth experience is not only what they are built for, it’s also what they love.