Pregnancy is quite the journey all by itself, but labor and delivery is another journey for the mom to be to travel. If you have made the decision to have a natural childbirth, there are some things to consider:
- Will you see an OB-GYN or a Nurse Midwife?
- Will you have a Doula?
- Will you give birth at a hospital or at home?
- Will you birth your child in water (ie. pool or bathtub) or at a hospital?
The difference between an OB-GYN is education and scope of practice. While OB-GYN's attend school for about 12 years, Midwives earn Bachelor's degrees and often work as nurses for an amount of time. Midwives specialize in what is considered a 'normal'-complication free childbirth whereas OB-GYN's treat specialty cases and sometimes perform surgical procedures.
A Doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. Or you can call her a Birthing Coach.
Many moms to be will plan to have a birth at home, but this would also depend on health conditions and other resources needed for a successful birth. When there wasn't a lot of support for home births in the past, it is becoming a popular choice for moms today.It is like returning to our roots in some ways, when children were born in homes in earlier years and centuries past.
One of the most reliable methods in natural childbirth is The Bradley Method. Learning the techniques and tools described in The Bradley Method has helped me birth 4 out of 5 children naturally, without the use of epidural or having to have a C Section. The Bradley Method is designed to have a 'husband-coach' but you can also select a trusted friend or partner to assist you in learning the method and executing it when the time comes.
If you get the book, like I did, you will learn everything from nutrition tips to preparing your body for birthing. From breathing techniques to stretches and other exercises, The Bradley Method helps train moms for childbirth, understanding the stages that take place during pregnancy and labor.
The role that the father/husband/coach plays in The Bradley Method is important because it helps to create a bond between dad and baby before the birth. So often, fathers feel left out because mom carries the baby, delivers the baby and breastfeeds the baby too. But bonding can begin at conception.
Some helpful tips for the dad to be are reading or singing to baby in the womb; attending scheduled medical appointments with mom and asking questions instead of just sitting and listening. Dads to be can also help mom pack the 'to go' bag, choose nursery items and help mom with stretching and relaxing exercises throughout the pregnancy and in preparation for delivery. Finally, dads can attend birthing and breastfeeding classes in order to learn more about the process and to help them become more comfortable with labor and delivery.
The stages of labor are:
- Early Labor. You will feel contractions that are very tight and could last for a minute. Fear often rises at this stage because the tightness is a bit more intense than Braxton Hicks (false labor) contractions. Early labor involves regular contractions at a certain interval of time and persists for an hour. Even in early labor, sometimes your cervix may not efface much at all. Early labor may last days or a couple weeks, and varies from woman to woman.
- Active Labor. This part of labor is very intense. Contractions will come close together and be longer and more intense than early labor contractions. Breathing and positioning is very important in this phase of childbirth. The Bradley Method will teach you to breathe complete breaths as opposed to panting (which is what we see on tv). Panting can actually cause hyperventilation. Active labor also results in the actual birth of the baby.
- The After Birth. This phase involves mild contractions of the uterus that produces the placenta
Sometimes natural birth is not possible. It may be that, during labor, the baby's heart rate drops drastically or the umbilical cord gets wrapped around the baby's neck. If the doctor or midwife can not naturally encourage the baby to turn around or lower the baby's heart rate, a C Section may be necessary. Moms also may become ill, lose a lot of blood or lose consciousness and my have to be rushed to the hospital to birth the baby while being closely monitored. Many moms have felt guilty for not being able to go through with a natural childbirth, but the techniques and tips learned from classes and research can still help mom have as close to a natural birth as possible.
Preparing for natural child birth should begin as soon as you decide that is the type of labor and delivery you would like to have.