The 5 Things Standing Between You and a Natural Birth
As a labour and delivery nurse and a doula, I’ve seen hundreds of women navigate their births. The stages of labour are always the same, because why would nature change something so perfectly orchestrated? Every woman who goes into labour has to work her way through early, active, transition and pushing to give birth.
There’s no schedule of events; nobody knows how long each stage will last, but every normal birth follows the same pattern. The only way it's different from one woman to the next is her attitude towards it.
Girl, I can feel your side-eye right now.
I’m not living that woo-woo life over here, believe me. I’m just a regular woman who's had a couple of drug-free, normal births and I’m here to tell ya that working the stages of birth is a mindset that starts while you’re pregnant. Most women can achieve the brass ring of birth stories by doing it naturally.
So, if you’re not sure if you’ve got it in you, let me reassure you right here, right now- there’s a really, really good chance that you do!
If you read my stuff you’ll know that I’m a firm believer in judgement-free motherhood. Talking about the fact that women can have normal births isn’t a judgement call on any decisions you've made for your birth. I assure you, I’m just here to serve you up some good and accurate information and inspiration.
So what are the things standing between you and your best birth? Studies show that there are 5 major blocks, but don't you worry- we can bust the hell right through them.
Look Girl- You don’t know what you don’t know. Because of that, you’re probably going to feel anxious before, during and after labour and your birth. There are different variations of anxiety: if it’s just mild for you, you can (and should!) use meditation to quiet your thoughts. Like I said, I’m not woo-woo but mediation really works. And you’re going to need it when you become a mom so you may as well start practicing that shizz now.
If you're feeling moderate to severe anxiety while you’re pregnant, you really should see your doctor. Not sure where you fall on the anxiety scale? I’ve got you covered with this free download:
It’s the same test your doctor uses. Download it, do it in the privacy of your own home, take your time to answer the 10 questions (there's instructions for scoring yourself too!) and then just print it and take it to your doctor.
Having a baby is kinda like having an out-of-body experience. You don't know when it's going to happen or what it will feel like because you're a first-time mama. If you’re a woman who enjoys knowing what’s going to happen next all the time, you’re going to feel some fear of the unknown. Birth has so many possibilities that it’s normal to feel afraid of things like pain and suffering and even for your baby’s well-being.
Fear is such a familiar emotion for us, but it really doesn’t have to take centre-stage at your birth. Start using positive birth affirmations today to start a normal birth mindset. The more you replace those feelings of fear with positivity, the more confident you’ll feel about your birth. Use a positive affirmation during your meditation- just repeat it over and over.
One of the most common questions I’ve been asked over the years is: But what kind of pain do you feel during birth? I wish there was a one-size-fits-all answer to this question! Every woman has a different perception of her pain, but let’s put it this way:
if you’re thinking about the pains of childbirth in a negative way, you’re going to be more afraid of it.
If you think about pain in childbirth as feelings of excitement about meeting your new baby, you’re going to embrace it. Ok, that's actually bullshit. Maybe you’re not going to "embrace" it, but you’re not going to be as tense and scared.
I remember all too well the exact moment when I was pregnant with my first baby and I realized,
Oh Shizzz. I have to get this baby outta me in a few months.
The thought of pushing my baby out was inconceivable. I couldn't wrap my brain around how something big enough to make my belly button pop inside-out could fit through that hole. But I realized very quickly that fearful thoughts were a waterfall to full-blown anxiety that I wasn’t interested in visiting.
So what’s a pregnant girl to do?
You’ve got to reframe your thoughts about pain.
Girl- there’s a HUGE difference between pain and suffering.
Birth is moments of pain followed by moments of relief. A woman isn’t suffering from birth, she’s experiencing it. Remember the last yeast infection you had? The itching, the burning? That was suffering. And you didn't get an amazing baby when your medication was finished either.
Most contractions only last a minute or less. My best mantra for birth is one that you should adopt:
You can do ANYTHING for one minute. It’s only one minute.
Every time you feel afraid of the pain of birth, just tell yourself that it’s excitement. You’re just excited to meet your baby. Trust me- I wouldn’t waste your time with this stuff if it didn’t actually work.
With all the crap above going on in your brain, it’s no surprise that first-time mamas are feeling stressed about giving birth! Here’s the thing: you’ve done such a great job taking care of your baby throughout this pregnancy: eating right, taking prenatal vitamins and staying away from wine. But what have you done for yourself lately? Your brain deserves a break from all of this stress!
If you’re having a hard time turning off all the thoughts, try guided relaxation. It’s like a vacation for your brain- a braincation- and it feels soooo good to get a break from stressful thoughts.
Lack of Confidence
This is the Catch-22 of natural birth. We become more confident about things by doing them over and over, right? But if this is your first birth, how can you do it with confidence when you've never done it before?
Well, preparation is key. Consider:
- Taking a natural birth class (Lamaze is pretty awesome!)
- Surrounding yourself with other women who are excited to have a normal birth like you.
- Telling your partner that you plan to give birth naturally and ask for emotional support.
- Hiring a doula.( Hey- if a doula is good enough for the Duchess of Sussex, it's good for you too!)
- Switching doctors if yours is pushing anything but a normal birth.
Sometimes confidence comes naturally and sometimes you have to fake it ‘til you make it. However you do it, having confidence in your body and your birth is going to be the key to unlocking your dream birth.
If you’re looking for more support, confidence or inspiration for a natural birth come on over to Mamasoup! We have a group just for you called Natural Birth Moms.
Having a natural birth is possible for most women if they want it. As a nurse, I know it’s the best, safest way for you to have your baby. As a woman who’s had 2 natural births I know that if you believe in your ability and your body you will gain a confidence that nobody can ever take away from you. It’s so worth it.
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Joanne Ilaqua - CEO of MamaSoup
Hey there, I’m Joanne.
I’ve spent about 20 years serving women as a nurse, doula and Lamaze educator. I have 4 kids and I know firsthand how lonely and isolating motherhood can be, so I created MamaSoup. I'm mostly known for my love of red wine, spontaneously singing and my confidence in being my true self on social media. When I’m not busy building women up, you can catch me taking Instagram stories of my bulldog Ruby, watching The Handmaid’s Tale, playing MUber (Mom Uber) to my kids or vacationing in my favourite town: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
I love serving the world by providing a space for moms to connect and support each other. In my opinion, moms are the backbone of communities because they are (literally) raising the future!
As the founder and CEO of MamaSoup, I’ve been featured on CHEX TV Morning Show, KawarthaNOW, Economic Development- The City of Kawartha Lakes and MyKawartha.
Still with me? Join me over at MamaSoup to keep the conversation going!