Everything you need to know about Vaginal birth!
by sinitta bajaj
Natural birth: Everything there is to know!
From the moment a woman receives news of her pregnancy, she is plagued with a myriad of choices and moments of doubt. What to eat, how to exercise, how to get over the morning sickness, and most importantly the path for your labor.
Many pregnant women find themselves wondering ‘what is natural childbirth’ or ‘why do women choose natural birth’? Is it a term that specifically refers to vaginal birth? Water birth?
Well, there’s plenty of time to talk about the different options among natural birth. First we can understand the basics.
Natural birth technically refers to vaginal birth and essentially is a drug free delivery. No epidurals, no exacerbating of the labor process. A simple delivery. Why would a new mother go through the pain of natural birth, you ask? Let's have a look at the benefits of natural birth.
This is not to say that we do not support all methods of birth, depending on the mother’s preferences of course, but that TODAY we are discussing natural birth so as to educate the mommies who chose it!
Benefits of natural birth: The healthiest route for a mommy!
Let’s not make natural birth such a broad term. Your maternity doctor can tell you best whether your body are suited to natural birth. After all, the birthing process is hard and exhausting for the mother’s body.
Of course, you must be educated on the topic before you can make a decision, and we’re here to tell you precisely that! You also must keep in mind that natural birth does not strictly mean labor without medication whatsoever.
Before we get to the benefits, let's discuss the different types of routes available in the sphere of natural birth:
- A mother may choose to opt for natural birth in a hospital or birthing center. Her doctor (OB GYN) may be present on site to monitor her progress, along with a doula (if need be). Here, the mother may choose to negate pain medication, which includes any other medical intervention as well.
- Another option is a home birth. Home births have been all the rage for the longest time since they are infinitely more intimate for couples expecting their bundles of joy. Some couples prefer to have their doulas present even when opting for home births. You may be able to tell that this particular process has no involvement of medication or soothers for the mother. It is a typical vaginal birth.
- Have you ever heard of a water birth? You may have seen it in the movies or shows you like. It can be referred to as hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy can be applied in forms of steams, showers, tubs, hot and cold water compresses and more. This process is used before the mother begins with her labor as well; it includes some of that pre labor lifestyle.
- New mothers also find themselves using other techniques to sail successfully through a natural birth routine, such as hypnosis, massage, relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises and acupressure.
Natural birth or not, labor is not a magical carpet ride, and there sure is no magic lamp at the end. Just a cute, pink, bundle of joy and love. And having gone through a whole nine months of pregnancy, it is very important you feel satisfied and content with your choice of delivery.
Do you need assistance making things clearer? Crystal? Let's get right to the benefits of natural labor:
Many women are uncomfortable with the immobility that comes with anesthesia or epidurals. They feel the need to move around in order to be assured during labor. This may apply during and after the birth.
When you’re pumped full of medication you are confined to bed well after the baby has come. This may make you feel incompetent or impatient; you want to take care of your baby and begin the recovery period at the soonest.
Who doesn’t want a lovely hot shower, or simple walking after birth? Well, natural birth can be your path to the same.
Firstly, this particular benefit is not as scary as it sounds, especially for those women who still seem to want to choose a medicated birth.
It simply suggests that the use of medication during labor or birth can sometimes open you up to further complications. And while these complications are not life threatening, they can surely make you uneasy, which can further impair the process of taking care of the baby.
Pain medication, sometimes, can slow or speed the labor process. It may lower blood pressure or make the mother feel nauseous. I know what you’re going to say; nausea is a joke after morning sickness and other pregnancy symptoms. (in a good way, lol)
Therefore, natural birth may be a smart option for you ladies. (only if your OB GYN agrees and thinks it’s a good idea)
No, bacteria is not always supposed to be yuck! If your child is coming out though the natural birth canal, a.k.a, the vagina, he/she is able to receive and retain some beneficial bacteria. Such bacteria can help boost the immunity of your child. Of course, this can be achieved through a medicated or no drug birth, equally.
Are you astonished reading about a potential set of stellar lungs achieved through vaginal or natural birth? Curious?
The pushing and squeezing during labor helps release amniotic fluid buildup in the baby’s lungs. As and when it is drained, the baby’s breathing is solidified and made stronger. This also ensures your darling baby does not develop any respiratory issues in the future as well.
This one is a no brainer really! Surgery has potential for an n number of complications and risks, all depending from patient to patient, process to process, and body to body. Again, this entire choice depends on your OB GYN.
All mothers must understand that we are stating, defining, and explaining the contents under natural birth for low risk mothers (which includes most of the mother population). We reiterate that natural birth does not only include childbirth without medication.
Sometimes even if a mother has opted for a no drug delivery, her doctor may implore her to take anesthesia mid labor. In such circumstances, do not fight your trusted OB GYN since it may complicate matters further.
Further, we are going to help you make a natural birth checklist (medicated delivery or no drug delivery).
Your research can only get you so far, and of course, help from the doula and OB GYN. You must have a prepared list so you know exactly what step to take in what circumstances.
So should we get right to it?
Your natural birth checklist
Most doctors claim natural births without anesthesia or medication lead to quicker and smoother recoveries along with healthy babies and fewer side effects. Of course, none of this is written in stone. Still, it cannot be wise to completely ignore what medical specialists say.
This is precisely why we want to help you with a checklist you can maintain so you can help yourself remain in control of your situation.
Every mother has a very personalized reason behind her choice of labor, or even taking care of the baby when he/she comes. Ensure you’re doing this for all the right reasons. Define natural birth for yourself; does it mean a no drug delivery, or a simple vaginal birth with all the right medication?
Remember, no one can judge you for how you choose to bring life into the world. Your partner, your baby, and you are all that matter.
This could basically be referred to as a literal lay out of your birth plan. This includes the medication you prefer, if any, the environment of your labor room; whether you prefer a home birth, hospital birth, or a birthing center birth.
This plan would also include the amount of loved ones you want present in the delivery room.
These are some details you should get down with your OB GYN and/or doula, so nothing is left for the last minute.
Practice makes perfect. Childbirth is no different! The most popular childbirth classes seem to be lamaze classes since we’ve heard the word through pop culture a lot.
Other options for childbirth classes are hypnobirthing, the Bradley technique, and Hypnobabies. Why does one need birthing classes? Such birthing classes teach the parents breathing techniques, self hypnosis, and relaxing, all essentials for the mother during labor.
Parents will also learn the details of pregnancy and childbirth, helping them think for themselves when the baby comes.
This may be one of the most crucial processes in your childbirth plan. By now, you may already have an OB GYN, that is if you’re in the pregnancy stage. Since you always have the option of a delivery room in a hospital or birth center, you can tick off either if it seems to be your path.
The next step will be to hire a doula (specializing in natural birth) or a healthcare provider to help you when the time comes. Other than their credentials, you must also feel comfortable around the professional you choose. This is paramount to have a smooth and efficient delivery.
Mommies, we know how you worry about the contractions and the agony of labor. And if you worry, you gotta work through it.
What happens when the body feels pain? It stiffens, which seems to only exacerbate the effects of it. The challenge is to learn to relax in response to the pain, an impossible feat we know! If your body stiffens during labor, it also restricts the muscles of the uterus, squeezing it. We don’t need to tell you that's not good for you or your baby.
You may pick some pain points such as the mass between your thumb and index finger, the Achilles tendon (behind your ankle), and the muscles between the neck and shoulder. Have your partner apply steady pressure to the site of your choice. The aim is to feel a pained pressure before you taper off; this will help increase your pain threshold.
But only if you remain focused and relaxed through the exercise.
As much as you’ve stuffed your face with those pregnancy cravings, you need exercise to counter act and also ensure your body remains healthy. Think of your labor process as a long run marathon, and one that will drain you of energy.
This is why you must establish a work out plan throughout the pregnancy. It could be long distance running, yoga, other cardio exercises (elliptical machine or stationary bike). However, if you have never worked out before, you should establish a cardio regime with your OB GYN or physician.
The most important of all exercise options is stretching, since your hips need to be flexible for the delivery. You can include a minimum of twenty minutes of stretching before or after your exercise session. Yoga is also an able option to gain flexibility in the body; plus it is beneficial for the mind.
Labor doesn’t always look like the somewhat put together affair they show in the movies. There is a good deal more squatting and moving around. Why squat? Well, the action opens up the pelvic muscles to help the baby assume the correct position for delivery.
This particular essential also helps put the baby in place in the third trimester, and don’t worry, squatting will not induce early labor.
Now, what's the standard definition of early labor? It is the period that comes before your contractions really begin, and also the preparation your uterus goes through before the baby comes.
Doctors state that a woman should head to the hospital when she’s 4 centimeters dilated. Some medical professionals disagree with this parameter, and prefer to let the mother remain home till she’s 6 centimeters dilated. Why, you ask?
Well, rushing to the hospital during your early labor hours can put you in a great deal of stress. There is less room to move around in a delivery room, there may be staff interruptions, and no tub for you to relax in. Put together, these factors can stress your and your body out.
As we have mentioned before, you need not be refined to your bed during labor. Instead, you need to be able to move around to squat, walk, and stretch if need be. Assuming the right position for your body, baby, and birth canal is significant.
You may use a birthing ball if need be (a ball for you to sit or bounce on). You may also use water to relax the body; this can be in the form of a hot water tub, pool, steam, hot and warm compresses, and more.
Oftentimes, a mother is unable to focus or relax between contractions which can make it a difficult delivery. At this time, your OB GYN may offer your an epidural or other pain medication, in which case it may be a good idea to take only if you want.
Since you are opting for a natural birth, or thinking about it, you must have a delivery bag ready to go! This may include all those things you deem necessary for your labor and delivery process.
Carry and extra change of clothes, preferably something comfortable and airy. Many mother may choose to carry some music, birthing balls, compresses, grip socks (to remain stable when moving around), maternity pads, nursing pillow, a change for your partner, and much more.
Your labor doula or midwife may have some insights as to what else you can include. You can always have a look at the Mamacare Birthing Box as a haven for your c-section postpartum care.
We hope our surmised checklist was able to put things into perspective in terms of your choice for your birth plan. You can have a look at our curated list below:
Are you now wondering what comes after a natural birth?
Read on to find out!
Can you change your mind during labor?
A very valid query indeed. And even though we have mentioned the same a couple times in the checklist above, you still deserve more clarity on the topic.
What does changing your mind signify? Does that make your legible to take all the pain medication offered such as a spinal block, epidural, pudendal block, narcotic pain reliever (spinal injection), and more.
While we cannot tell you exactly which one of these pain relieving options you should pick, we can certainly educate you on the matter further.
An epidural begins to take effect 20 minutes after it is administered, and the amount can always be altered during labor. A spinal block may start working right away but it can only be used once throughout the process and wears off in an hour or two.
Pudendal blocks are a form of epidurals, but are more effective since they only target the vaginal area so you are still able to push. Regular epidurals can make it a little harder to push. Spinal injections on the other hand relieve pain without making your body numb, which can help you remain more present.
After natural birth: What to expect
Mother, you will be glad to know that women who go through a natural delivery are permitted to return home in a day or two as opposed to the four days for cesarean or abdominal mothers. Your pelvis will feel sore for sure, but you can expect to resume daily chores and care for the baby as soon as you return.
Remember to take the likely assistance of some mommy reliefs such as sitz salts, compresses, squirt bottles, witch hazel, warm baths (not hot), and more. Facilitate all you need to make your system recover faster. Postpartum symptoms can be scary but with the help of your OB GYN and brands like Mamacare, you can make that journey soothing and comfortable.
Keep a track of all your bodily symptoms such as the flow of your postpartum bleeding, breastfeeding, and more. Discuss the same with your OB GYN if you feel something is out of the ordinary. We can help you identify when it is time to head to a doctor.
- If you’re feeling chills or a fever.
- Heavy vaginal bleeding.
- Sudden dizzyness, blackouts, or fainting.
- Painful urination (you will feel a slight sting when you pee, but if there is extreme pain it is worrysome).
- Swollen or pained legs.
- Severe abdominal pain
Just relax! This should be the new order of your life now! Kidding! But true enough, you need to learn to relax before, during, and after pregnancy. A natural birth is a bold and healthy choice and patience is key. However, there is also no shame in going back.
As long as the baby and mom are healthy and happy, the process really does not matter. A labor doula and OB GYN are able sources to get a more detailed version of the blog so choosing can be easy.
You must also learn to cope with the stress and blues that come from pregnancy and delivery, and know that everything passes. Also remember to go for regular postpartum checkups and most of all use all the right products to while away those postpartum woes!