Preparing for Natural Birth: During, After, and Continuing Care
One of the ways I love supporting my clients is by helping to prepare mamas-to-be with natural childbirth plans for “ideal” birth experiences.
As a mother of two, I’ve lived through:
- a “pretty much” exactly-as-planned natural birth and
- an all-things-gone-haywire, birth plan out the window birth.
Because of this, I know as much as anyone else that not all plans can be executed as desired, and (thank the Lord) we can still have amazingly perfect children as a result. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best to prepare and plan for the decisions to be made and/or variables to consider for the arrival of our sweet babies. Even when things don’t go “as planned” having a “plan” still remains incredibly helpful as events unfold.
This post reviews some questions and considerations surrounding a natural birth—during, immediately after, and when you return home—so you can develop a plan that works for you.
So Exciting and SO MANY QUESTIONS!
When a woman finds out she is pregnant, it is such an exciting time (and not just for first-time moms either)! Thoughts such as baby names (Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Should I find out?), nurseries, and baby showers all start flooding in as she simultaneously feels nausea and exhaustion while her body creates and grows a beautiful miracle.
Other questions might be:
- Should I tell everyone now?
- Wait until the 2nd trimester? (Will I even be able to wait that long?)
- Where will I have the baby?
- Will I have a hospital birth? Deliver at a birthing center? Homebirth?
As the baby develops and grows (as does mommy’s belly), things start to get REAL! The mom-to-be is forced to start thinking about what she will need to help the baby to acclimate to the outside world:
- Will I need a pump?
- Does my insurance cover an electric pump?
- Which kind of pump is best?
- What bottles will I want for the baby?
- Will I even need bottles?
- Diapers – cloth or disposable?
- Will I need a newborn size for diapers or even clothes?
So much to think about! While I certainly don’t have all of those answers, I can tell you where I spent much of my focus, especially as I got closer to my due dates. You guessed it—on my birth plan!
You may be asking, “Do I need a birth plan?” The answer here is YES, and that’s why it is a big focus of my blog today! A birth plan is a perfect way for you to really think through what you want for your birthing experience, and if you prefer, to get it all down on paper.
With all of the unknowns involving pregnancy and childbirth, most of the pregnant women I work with feel so much better once they have their plan all spelled out. (I do caution you, however, that flexibility is KEY in childbirth. The point of the birth plan is to spell out your ‘best-case-scenario,’ and it’s best to remember that above all, your baby’s (and your own) safety is the top priority, and sometimes things change as a result.)
Plans for During Birth
Here are some of the topics you may want to consider for your birth plan that apply DURING birth:
- Your people – Who you’d like to have present at the birth or afterward (your doula, your partner, your kids, family, friends, etc.) This includes any visitors if permitted.
- Preferred birth center/room – Where you’d like to give birth within your chosen birthing environment (a specific room, a room with a birthing tub/pool, etc.)
- Labor aides/relaxation techniques – This might include massage, relaxation techniques, assistance with slow breathing, heat or ice, a tub or shower, essential oils (I recommend lavender), and/or music.
- I also recommend checking out Hypnobabies, a birth education method similar to Hypnobirthing involving medical hypno-anesthesia techniques, but that factors in labor pain and coping skills to manage it as well. Hypnobabies was extremely helpful during my natural birth BUT even more helpful during my birth “gone wild.” I recommend it to ALL Mamas.
- Verbal support/conversation from others – You may also have a preference as to if/how people talk to you during labor; some like calming and quiet conversation, some prefer encouraging words during the tougher times, and some prefer silence.
- Movement – If you are delivering in a location that allows movement (many hospitals don’t if/when you are hooked up to an IV), you may consider different birthing positions or movement to increase comfort during labor pain (e.g., squatting, rocking, the use of a birthing ball, yoga, stretching, etc.).
- Foods – Some definite foods to have on-hand are dates, wild blueberries, coconut water, and raw honey!
- Some other superstar foods I recommend are fresh fruit, lemon water, avocados, and potatoes since they will all play a huge role in sustaining energy.
- Some “grab and go” snacks include Larabars, Simple Mills crackers, pumpkin seeds, figs, cashew butter, dulse, and ingredients for smoothies such as barley grass juice powder (BGJP) and wild blueberry powder (WBBP). Don’t forget your blender if smoothies are on your menu! (I realize that some locations will not allow food to be consumed during labor, but being able to fuel your body properly can really make a huge difference!) For more detailed information on what to eat to support your body during birth, check out our Life-Giving Foods for Giving Life blog post.
- Pain medication/pain management – Do you want it to be offered to you? What are you comfortable considering/taking for pain relief? Would you prefer to be unmedicated while delivering?
Plans for Immediately After Birth
Here are some considerations for your birth plan applying to right AFTER your beautiful baby arrives (it is advised that you discuss these requests with your ob/gyn or midwife in advance):
- Immediate skin-to-skin – This keeps the baby warmer, regulates baby’s breathing, and helps with bonding. FYI, this can be done by mom or dad!
- Immediately put baby to breast – Babies who are put on the breast right away are more likely to nurse sooner and longer. This can also start the process of getting mama’s milk supply well-established.
- Seek Lactation Consultant support ASAP – Reach out for support as early as when the baby is born if needed. The earlier you can find solutions to issues, the more likely you are to have success with establishing and sustaining your breastfeeding relationship.
- Cutting of the cord – Would you like your partner to do it? Do you wish to wait until it is done pulsing AKA delayed cord clamping? (Delayed cord clamping is highly beneficial to babies. It reduces the risk of anemia, increases oxygen, and provides essential stem cells to name a few benefits. This is done by simply waiting until the blood has emptied from the cord—approximately 1–5 minutes—before allowing the umbilical cord to be cut.)
- Baby’s first bath – Would you prefer to do it once you’re home? (There are many reasons why it’s beneficial to delay your baby’s first bath! Some include reduced risk of infection, stabilized infant blood sugar, as well as improved maternal/infant bonding and improved breastfeeding among other benefits!)
- Medical interventions/procedures for the baby – Indicate what you are comfortable with being issued to/performed on/given to your baby (I recommend that you do your research and elect to do what sits right with you as a mama).
- Pacifier preference – Do you mind if your baby receives a pacifier right away? Do you prefer to wait until a latch is established?
- Baby’s whereabouts – Do you want your baby to remain in the room with you at all times? If so, you may need to indicate this to your medical practitioners.
Home, Sweet, home
Once you’re home tending to all of the needs of the baby, the TLC for your own mind and body shouldn’t stop! Here are some ideas for continuing your care (and some items to consider in advance so you’ll have them on hand for when you get home):
- Padsicles! We recommend using newborn or size 1 diapers (or you could use maxi pads) and filling them up with witch hazel (without alcohol), 100% pure lavender essential oil, and 100% pure unscented aloe vera gel and FREEZING them! This is something that many mamas do toward the end of their pregnancy so the “medicinal ice packs” are ready and available as soon as mama is home! These can be a lifesaver for pain after delivery! (Bonus, they help with mild leakage too!)
- Pain management techniques – Arnica Montana, a homeopathic remedy, is excellent for muscle pains and aches from birth. Ibuprofen can also be used for pain post-birth. Natural is always best, but when it comes to pain, we must consider the stress of the pain on the adrenal glands.
- Topical healing – Arnica gel can be rubbed on sore muscles and bruised parts, and will speedily heal an episiotomy or tear if they happen. Calendula ointment can also be applied after childbirth to help with reducing redness, bruising, swelling, and discharge. You may also consider sitz baths (warm shallow baths that provide relief to the perineum and that whole area).
- MORE LIFE-GIVING FOODS! Check out our blog post, First Birth Story & Tips for Recovering from Birth, for more information about what to eat and when, as well my birth story and 14 tips for physically and emotionally recovering from birth (c-section or vaginal birth)!
- (More) skin to skin – Take advantage of the first several days/weeks/months when you’re able to sit or lie down with the baby being your only priority. If you have things that absolutely need to be done (and for YOU to do them), use babywear. One of my favorite things to do is to throw on an old tank top (you could also use a baby carrier) and stick the baby between your skin and the fabric and wear the baby against your chest as you go about your day.
- Try to relax – Yes, we know…easier said than done!
Treasure these moments – they really do pass so quickly!
Childbirth is one of the most amazing, exhilarating, and exhausting events of a woman’s life whether it’s a natural vaginal delivery, a cesarean section (c-section), or it involves the requirement and use of other interventions. I recommend that you keep an open dialogue with your obstetrician/gynecologist/midwife and use the above information in a way that works for you and helps you to feel as prepared as you can be!
After you’ve got your plan in place, remember that our bodies are INCREDIBLE! Our bodies are MADE for this! No matter how your baby makes his/her way into this world, do your best to take care of yourself, and don’t forget to treasure the moments to come!
As the saying goes, the nights are long, but the days are short! And as always, I’m here to support you whenever you need me!
Dr. Kimberly Spair brings an enormous amount of compassion and light to her work as a healer. Her personal experience of overcoming chronic health issues while managing the demands of her busy life as a mother, wife and health practitioner gives her a special and invaluable insight into the challenges and struggles so many of her clients face. I deeply respect and honor Kimberly and her genuine commitment to helping her clients heal. She is a true ambassador of the healing information I share.
– Anthony William, Medical Medium
Nothing is more powerful than a mother in touch with her intuition and power. Dr. Kimberly Spair’s course will help awaken that within you.
– Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D. OB/GYN, Women’s Health Expert, Visionary Health Pioneer, Wellness Speaker, and New York Times Best-Selling Author