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16 Tips for a Natural Childbirth

1. Breathing 1 of 16
Relaxation is the best way to approach labor, breathing diaphragmatically helps as well as the ability to allow every muscle in the entire body to loosen and relax. This takes practice but allows your body to ease the process along rather than fighting it. Become a "wet noodle!" Mom-to-be should work to make relaxation a trained response.
2. Massage 2 of 16
Here is where your significant other or labor coach can make a difference. Touch has a very reassuring and powerful effect. Massage also can aid in relaxation. Back massages are especially good for women experiencing back labor. Practice beforehand with your partner to find out what types of touch you prefer. Have a hand signal for "more" and "enough" so the massager knows what to do to help. Aside from these typical massages, olive oil can be used for perineal massage
during the final stage of labor to expand tissue and help avoid episiotomy.
3. Birthing Ball 3 of 16
The bouncy movement of the birth ball helps take pressure off your legs and stomach and also allows you to move around without exerting energy.
4. Changing Positions 4 of 16
Some women choose to stand or sway during labor, and others like to lay on their side or even sit. Although most women have a mental picture ahead of time about what will be nurturing for them, the actual choices made in labor may be quite different. The most important thing is to experiment with different positions and options. Women can get stuck in one position in labor because they fear movement will increase the pain or disturb their concentration. The truth is that contractions last little more than one minute. If a new choice doesn't work, will only feel inconvenient for a very short time, and then she can always try another position or technique until she finds what is right for her.
5. Hypnotherapy 5 of 16
This is a technique you can learn while pregnant. Studies have shown it lessens the need for drugs. Involving deep mental relaxation, breathing techniques, and focused imaging, hypnosis can be done with a trained practitioner or in a do-it-yourself manner using tape recordings and trained responses.
6. Focusing 6 of 16
Concentrating on what your body is doing and becoming in sync with this process can allow you to move with labor, rather than against it. For example, one mom says looking back, she would have tossed out her watch and stopped worrying about timing her contractions. It just stressed her out.
7. Water 7 of 16
Whether it's a shower or a specially designed birthing tub, many moms recount how beneficial water can be in removing discomfort and relaxing tired muscles. Just think how great a soak in the tub can be.
8. Stay Hydrated 8 of 16
Labor is exactly that, labor. If you were expending this energy running a marathon or hiking you would have a bottle of water or sport drink in your hand. The same energy levels need to be kept up during labor. With your practitioner's approval, stock up ahead of time on good sports drinks found at natural and health food stores. To be on the safe side choose several different flavors, as you don't know which you will prefer during labor.
9. Cold or Hot Compresses 9 of 16
Heat and coolness can help alleviate tight muscles or revitalize your energy. They can be placed on the back, the neck, or forehead. Look for packs that can be placed in the refrigerator and microwave.
10. Set the Right Mood 10 of 16
Create an environment that feels safe and nurturing. Dim the lights and surround yourself with items from home or that you love.
11. Doula 11 of 16
The best friend to many laboring moms, a doula can be beneficial to a successful natural birth. A doula serves as an advocate for the mother and also as an assistant in labor. She can help keep a mom-to-be right on track and also help get breastfeeding off to a good start after delivery.
12. Consider Waiting 12 of 16
Stay home as long as possible, because there's no place like home. Some OB-GYNs suggest staying until you think you can't handle it anymore, then stay a bit longer. Though it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before making any decisions.
13. Supportive Staff 13 of 16
It definitely helps to have a team on your side supporting your decision to go drug-free. Months before birth, check out the hospital to see if they have a positive approach to natural births. Talk to the nurses to see how experienced they are with drug-free births. Request nurses not to offer drugs or IVs.
14. Take a Walk 14 of 16
A simple act you can't do with an epidural, walking can really help in the beginning stages of labor to relax you and ease the process along. Many women recount their memories of labor with tales of walking through empty parking lots in the middle of the night with their husbands, making rounds through hospital corridors, and strolling around the block. Not only does walking help physically, it also is a relaxing way to gain composure and reflect on the impeding birth.
15. Someone to Lean On 15 of 16
Your husband, significant other, mother, or best friend can play a key role in providing emotional support and reassurance. Sometimes it can be difficult for a loved one to know how to respond to a laboring mom, so a doula might be the person you choose to lean on.
16. Don't Take It Lying Down 16 of 16
Many experts suggest getting up and moving around during labor. Some suggest only lying in bed when you absolutely have to because the pain is much worse lying down. So look for positions where you feel the pain less intensely.
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