Take a moment to think about your perception of pregnancy and birth for a minute. Explore your feelings surrounding this topic, everything you’ve heard, and either how your pregnancy went in the past or how you foresee it unfolding in the future. Are your feelings entirely positive? Was your pregnancy and birthing an uplifting, exhilarating one? Are you looking forward to carrying a child in the future, or giving birth to one?
If I had to guess, I’d say that it wasn’t all warm fuzzies you felt when you thought about childbearing. I’m currently 40 weeks pregnant with my first child, and my experience has been a very mixed one indeed.
On the one hand, there’s been an outpouring of support and encouragement from friends, family and even strangers. But on the other, I’ve had to endure story after story of birthing issues and hardship, of babies being torn out of their mother’s womb via c-section, of doctors wrenching the hapless child out by their head with vicious-looking forceps, of mothers suffering all manner of complications during pregnancy. The conversations always start on a positive note, but inevitably spiral down into woe and warning.
Birthing stories are kind of like war stories: tales of pain and heroics that are told to validate why that person went through the ordeal, and how they struggled through adversity to deliver their child against all odds. Women seem to take a grim pleasure in recounting the most grisly and depressing of details about their childbearing experiences, especially if there’s a pregnant lady in the room.
Is an easy, pain-free birth possible?
But the thing is, there’s absolutely no reason why a women can’t have a healthy, happy pregnancy and an easy, pain-free birth. If you’ve ever watched a healthy animal give birth without human intervention, you’ll know what I’m talking about — they’re always calm, never stressed and invariably give birth by themselves without any problem whatsoever.
Newsflash: We’re animals too. It’s my strong opinion that if we stay healthy during our pregnancy and relaxed during labor, there’s no cause for concern. I’m planning on having a natural, pain-free birth without medical interventions and I’m looking forward to it!
If you’re like me and plan on having a natural pregnancy and birth, here’s what you need to know:
Banish the fear
Having been Paleo for five years already and very conscious of my nutritive needs, I wasn’t at all worried about my health during pregnancy. But I was also aware that the thing which derails most natural birthing plans the most is fear. Fear of the unknown, of not knowing whether your fetus is going to develop into a healthy baby, of how much pain you’ll experience during childbirth if you pass on the epidural and other drugs, and of whether you’re endangering your baby by not traveling down the more conventional road.
You need to move past this fear. I certainly felt it trying to slip into my consciousness as my baby grew. But every time I noticed it, I worked through the reasoning behind that fear. Why was I worried about my decision not get scans at any point during my pregnancy? Because that’s what everyone else does, not because it somehow guarantees the health of my baby.
I’d read in many instances that getting scans actually contributed to more fear and anxiety on the mother’s part, the stress of which put their bodies under stress and harmed the otherwise perfect development of their baby. I’d also heard that high-pulse scans have the potential to heat up deep tissues in fetuses, thereby putting the baby at risk. I worked through this logic and suddenly I wasn’t afraid any more.
Whenever you feel fear or anxiety creeping in during your pregnancy or nearing your natural birthing day, take it apart and examine it. You’ll find there’s very little logic inside, and it’ll be a laughably easy process to banish that fear and get on with being an awesome mother-to-be.
Set a plan and stick to it
One of the most important things you’ll ever do is to set a goal in your mind and not let anything or anyone sway you from your course. I found that this was the single biggest step I could take towards having the most natural and carefree pregnancy possible.
My goal was to combine everything I’d learned about health and wellness during my years as a health coach and create the most holistic, natural birth I could imagine. This meant a pregnancy rich in whole foods, fresh produce, grass-fed muscle meat and organ meats, high-quality supplements and plenty of sleep and exercise. It also means that, when my baby finally decides to arrive, I’ll have a calm, natural birth at home with my partner beside me and a midwife who understands that I don’t want anyone hassling me or telling me what to do. In short, I want to be in control.
Keeping this plan firmly in my mind has been critical to avoid straying from my chosen path. Along the way, there have been plenty of people, including family, friends and medical professionals, who have questioned my way of doing things or asked why I haven’t gone down the conventional road. But when you know what you want, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks — it’s your natural pregnancy and childbirth, so let it unfold how you want it!
Practice, practice, practice!
While my pregnancy has been a relatively easy one, reflecting my optimum health and conscious lifestyle, I’m under no delusion that my natural birth will require some serious willpower. Thousands of years of accumulated human worry regarding labor and childbirth surround this event, and it will take all my meticulous practice to ensure I don’t get overcome with worry or pain and give in to the enemy: stress.
Practice, you say? Absolutely. During the early stages of my pregnancy, my partner and I attended hypnobirthing classes. These taught us how to master our fear during childbirth and ensure we remain calm and in control. Following those classes, practice involved deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, affirmations and visualizing how I wanted my birth to be.
Going through these motions every day has helped to instill this forced relaxation into my mind and muscles. A relaxed mother during childbirth means a relaxed cervix and a relatively quick, painless delivery without tearing or other complications. This is why practicing beforehand, with breathing and visualizations, is so important. I know that, when labor begins, I’ll be able to breath calmly and deeply. I’ll allow my baby to work his or her way out in their own time.
— Liivi Hess