Tips for Natural Birth: Amy's Experience
At Expecting and Empowered we want EVERY woman to feel empowered and encouraged. We realize that each expecting mama will have a different journey to meeting her baby and each baby has a unique entrance into the world. We're going to tell the stories of SO.MANY.WOMEN on this blog and we couldn't be more excited about that.
Today, it is my turn. My husband and I just welcomed our second son Trey Daniel into the world on November 11th at 12:02am. I was blessed and excited to experience my second natural birth. On my personal blog, I shared his birth story which you can read here. I'm going to refer to our first born Maxwell's birth in this blog post and his birth story is here.
Now that I have two natural births under my belt, I wanted to share insight and tips! I know this is NOT and doesn't need to be everyone's goal, but I wanted to write this post for women that are hoping for a natural delivery.
I say hoping because as Krystle shared in her post Let's Talk: C-Sections, this CAN be your goal and your little bundle might have his or her own plans. Krystle opened up about how her natural birth plans were foiled by BOTH of her daughters.
10 Tips for Making it Through Natural Childbirth
- You’ve got to mentally prepare for this. So you’re belly is getting bigger and bigger…who doesn’t think, how is this going to fit out of me? Some people like to avoid the thought, but at the end of both pregnancies I really started to embrace what I was about to go through. I read blog posts, watched documentaries (my favorite is The Business of Being Born), followed birth Instagram accounts, you name it. I wanted to SEE what was going to happen. It didn’t scare me, it made me empowered. If SHE can do it, I can do it.
- You’ve got to physically prepare for this. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that exercise during pregnancy helped me to give birth both times. I know this because every single muscle in my body was sore after my births. One of my go to laboring moves is half squats and I did them for hours during my first birth. There is no way I could do that if I hadn’t been training for the big event all the way through. Expecting and Empowered is the perfect preparation!
- You’ve got to say what you need. Both times I SO straight forward in the delivery room. With my husband, with my nurse, and especially with the resident. I knew what I needed or knew what I didn’t like. When the resident during my first birth got all chatty Cathy with me saying, “It sounds like you’re in labor! How exciting!” when I was legitimately 7 cm dilated and had been getting into a pretty intense contraction. I told her, “I cannot handle small talk, if you want to check my cervix you have to be ready after this next contraction and you’ll have about 60 seconds to do so.”
- Time your contractions. This is one of my golden tickets during both my labors. I wore my running watch and it was like getting through a really tough (okay toughest ever) track workout. I timed every single contraction using the split timer and it helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel during harder contractions.
- Breathe that baby out. I took long, slow, very deep breaths through every contraction with both babes. I didn’t talk, scream, or do anything else during them. During Max's labor I told myself to take 10 super deep breaths, and then I could look at my watch to see how much longer I had to go. I had practiced with my women’s health physical therapist to link my breathing to relaxing my pelvic floor (which helps your baby come down into the right position for birth). With Trey's birth, I was less focused on the time and just breathed in and out deeply until the pain of the contraction went away.
- Move during labor. Honestly, half squatting during each contraction made them way less painful. Whenever I had to get in bed (to get my cervix checked) the pain was amplified x 5. If I was walking around the room or squatting, I was much more in control of it.
- Get in the darn tub. During my first labor, I was SO hesitant to get in the tub. I don't like being hot and my half squats seemed to be working. My labor nurse said, "If you don't like it you can hop right out!" When I got in, I wanted to hug her! It very much lessened my pain and got me through a really tough part of labor. With Trey, I asked for the nurse to start the bathtub once things started ramping up. Again, it was SUCH a relieving experience and with the nurse's suggestion I laid back with a waffle cushion supporting my head between contractions. During Trey's birth I was SO zen that I was actually nodding off during the breaks. My husband Drew could hardly believe his eyes. I exited the bath about 5 minutes before having our second babe. For the second time, the bathtub had given me so much relief.
- It isn’t going to be a 5 paragraph birthplan that gets your through this. I go with one line in my birthplaces: “Amy knows what pain medications are available, she will ask for them if she wants them. Please don’t offer interventions to her.” The first time I was offered an epidural many times, but with Trey they didn't ask. To get through this you are going to have to believe in yourself. It is going to get scary (I was scared during my first birth) and it will be painful (yep, pretty painful both times). I think of the pain as productive and tell myself it is getting me closer to meeting my baby. That helps me immensely!
- It’s okay to be scared. A few times during Max's birth, I felt scared. I felt out of control. I would even say aloud so that my husband or nurse would give me the reassurance I needed at the time. It is not the nurse’s first rodeo, she is going to know what to do or say when you need her to show up for you. Don’t be scared to lean into that and let your support people support you. Ann (the amazing labor nurse I had with Max) would simply say, “Amy, you’re doing it. You’re doing amazing. You’re making this look easy.” Even if those weren’t whole truths, she had me feeling so empowered and ready to finish.
- Advocate for yourself. For my first birth, the resident wanted me to get in the bed to deliver the baby. I said to my nurse, “No Ann. Go back and tell her I’m absolutely not getting into bed.” The true story? Max was born above the toilet. At the very end, I would labor at the side of the sink doing half squats, and then rest between contractions by sitting on the toilet. There are plenty of fluids that are coming out anyway, so it was actually super convienent. Anyways, I was fully dilated and still on the porcelain throne, so that was where Max's birth needed to happen. Plus, I was ALL about the gravity and not being on my back during pushing. The attending doctor (that had replaced the overwhelmed resident) was on her knees with her iPhone light checking me. Minutes and three pushes later Maxwell was out and in my arms. With Trey, I might have stayed in the tub just a bit too long. By the time my husband and the nurse helped me to get up, I knew I had to push. I tried to stop and give birth on the toilet again, but the whisked me to the side of the hospital bed where the only had time to put a small pad on the ground and get their gloves on. I had already advocated for myself and told them that I do not give birth lying down. One quick cervix check, a water break, and 2 pushes later Trey was in the world. Again, the resident was overwhelmed with how fast it all happened and the position of the delivery and the attending caught Trey. I was standing up at the side of the bed and our sweet baby was dangling between my legs. I had did it again and it felt SO darn good.