5 Things First-Time Moms Need to Know About Giving Birth Naturally

Giving birth naturally is something you may want to achieve but aren't certain how to do, especially if this is your first baby. It seems like it should all be pretty simple since our bodies are made for the process, but your mind can be a powerful opponent. When I planned on giving birth naturally, I found a lot of opportunities for mindset work. And all that hard work paid off for me with two unmedicated, natural births!


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As a labour and delivery nurse and a doula, I’ve seen hundreds of women giving birth naturally. 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, whether they are giving birth naturally or with an epidural.

There’s no schedule of events; and a lot of people have a hard time surrendering to the birth process and trusting in it. The truth is that nobody knows how long each stage of labour 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.

Giving birth naturally starts while you're still pregnant.

I wish we talked about birth mindset work as much as we talk about strollers and baby registries. As a mom with four kids I can assure you about this: you'll remember more about your birth experiences than the stuff that your baby uses for a couple of months.

As a regular woman who's had a couple of drug-free, normal births I’m here to tell ya that working the stages of birth is a mindset that starts while you’re pregnant. I don't have a higher-than-most pain tolerance or a "pelvis made for birthing". I didn't take any hypno-birthing classes. 

So, if you’re not sure if giving birth naturally is something you're capable of, let me reassure you right here, right now- there’s a really, really good chance that you can do it!

If you've been reading my blogs for awhile, you 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.

What are the five things standing between you and giving birth naturally?

Studies show that there are five major blocks, but don't you worry- we can bust the hell right through them.


#1 Prenatal anxiety

Prenatal anxiety is feeling nervous or anxious during your pregnancy. and it affects about ten to twenty percent of pregnant people. This is a form of anxiety that can cause symptoms like: 

  • crying
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • irritable
  • trouble sleeping even though you're exhausted

Obviously people with prenatal anxiety should talk to their doctor. Especially if the anxiety is affecting your quality of life and relationships.

But for some, the anxiety is manageable with relaxation techniques. If you're feeling mildly anxious about giving birth naturally, you can (and should!) use meditation to quiet your thoughts. I started my meditation practice thirty years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. It not only helped me gain confidence in my body's ability to have a natural birth, it's helped me cope with motherhood for years. 

If you're feeling moderate to severe anxiety while you’re pregnant, you really should see your doctor. Not sure if your anxiety is mild, moderate or severe? I’ve got you covered with this free download:

(TAKE THE TEST: Perinatal/ Postpartum Depression Tool)

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.


#2 Fear of the unknown

To be fair, if you're feeling anxious about your birth, it's probably got something to do with your fear of not knowing what's going to happen. I can't tell you how many people are terrified about things like:

  • their water's gonna break at the worst time and embarrass them. (spontaneous rupture of membranes only happens in about 9% of births)
  • going into labour at work and having the baby on the floor because they can't get to the hospital (average labour for a first-time mom is 12-24 hours)
  • Having the baby early (research shows that 75% of first-time moms will have their baby by 41 weeks and 2 days)

Any of those sound familiar?

Feeling scared is such a crappy way to spend your pregnancy AND it can get in the way of giving birth naturally.

How fear can hinder your chance at giving birth naturally

In Lamaze classes, we teach about the FEAR-TENSION-PAIN cycle. The short version of it is this:

Fear creates tension in your body that hinders the hormonal and physical ability to manage the pain of childbirth. 

Start using positive birth affirmations today to start a normal birth mindset. The more you reframe fearful thoughts with positivity, the more confident you’ll feel about your birth.

PRO BIRTH TIP: Use a positive affirmations during your meditation- just repeat it over and over.

Birth affirmations can help you achieve a natural birth. Click here to download your free printable birth affirmations.


#3 Your perception of pain

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! I'm not going to sugarcoat it- contractions are painful. That's why Lamaze teachers like me are out here to teach you ways to manage it. But I have no idea how you experience something painful or what hurts you, but let me put it this way:

if you’re thinking about the pain of childbirth in a negative way, you’re going to be more afraid of it.

What I thought about pain before giving birth naturally was a key to my successful unmedicated births!

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 are a waterfall to full-blown anxiety.

I started to think about contractions as steps to finally meeting my baby. By the time I went into labour, I was excited about the process. Honestly, it wasn't easy at first but I realized that your brain is pretty easily trainable!

You’ve got to reframe your thoughts about pain during natural birth.

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.


#4 Unmanaged stress

I get so tired of people brushing off the signs of stress. It's not healthy and it can stand in the way of giving birth naturally. 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.


#5 Lack of confidence

This is the Catch-22 of a 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:

  • Take a natural birth class (Lamaze is pretty awesome!)
  • Surround yourself with other women who are excited to give birth naturally
  • Hire ME to help you get ready for a natural birth (choose your time zone and grab a free 15-minute private consult with me below👇)

Schedule Appointment


 Sometimes confidence comes naturally and sometimes you have to work at it. However you do it, having confidence in your body and your birth is going to be the key to unlocking your natural birth experience.

If you’re looking for more support, confidence or inspiration for a natural birth come on over to our mom community Mamasoup! We have a group just for you called Natural Birth Moms.

Giving birth naturally is not only achievable, it's the healthiest birth for you and your baby. As a woman who’s had two natural births I know that if you believe in your ability and your body you'll gain a confidence that nobody can ever take away from you!

If you liked this post, you'll LOVE this one:

5 Things First-Time Moms Wished They'd Known BEFORE Giving Birth

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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!

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