Natural Birth Must Haves!

Is a natural birth your birth plan? You can TOTALLY do it mama! With this list of MUST HAVES for a natural birth from a mama who’s done it not once but, twice, I am confident that you can achieve a beautiful birthing process without meds like I did!

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  1. Essential Oils: Consult your midwife prior to using.*
    • Clary Sage Oil-Help induce labor naturally and enhance contractions once labor has started. Use topically with a carrier or in a diffuser. Not to be used prior to labor*
    • Peppermint-Help reduce nausea + headaches. Not to be used after birth, can reduce milk supply* 
    • Helichrysum-Supports elasticity of the perineal area. Mix it with a little carrier oil and apply to perineal or use in a compress.
    • Myrrh-Use with a carrier oil and rub it on the lower abdomen with clary sage oil to bring on contractions.
    • Lavender-Promotes relaxation and eases muscle tension.
  2. Cold Wash Cloths: These will be a God send when a contraction comes along and you’re beginning to sweat out of every pore on your body. Make sure your partner knows to keep them cold and ready for each contraction!
  3. Personal Fan: This is one that I didn’t have with my first or second birthing experiences but, it sure did make a difference with my third! Not only does it keep me cool where I want to be cool but, I placed mine in front of our essential oil diffuser to blow the steam right into my face. A big whiff of Clary Sage Oil diffusing and blowing from the fan would send me into a long, deep, really beneficial contraction! THIS ONE is my favorite!
  4. Birth Support: Make sure to have a really solid team behind you. If a nurse comes in offering medication, or something that doesn’t sound like part of your birth plan, you’ll need a backbone to do the talking for you, one who supports your plan. Make sure they know your practices and preferences before entering the hospital. Keep everyone updated on the research you’ve done and signals for your “breaking point” should you have one.
  5. Evening Primrose Oil: Consult your midwife prior to using. Recommended at 38 weeks or after through vaginal insertion or oral consumption.* This stuff is wondrous! Evening primrose oil helps the cervix to soften and thin out (efface). Studies suggest that due to linolenic acid found in EPO, it may trigger a prostaglandin response in the body to help shorten labor.
  6. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: Not to be mistaken for raspberry tea.* Raspberry leaf tones the muscles of your uterus so they work more efficiently. Drink 2 or more cups a day starting at 36 weeks or after. Can also be used during labor for hydration.
  7. Yoga + Meditation: Whether you’re having a natural or medicated birth, yoga and meditation are great tools to have all the way through your pregnancy! Help your mind and body prepare for your baby by practicing meditation every evening in a luke warm bath and try 10-15 minutes of pregnancy yoga every morning to help ease aches and pains!
  8. These Apps:
  9. Dates: A study conducted in 2011 and published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favorable, but non-significant, delivery outcome. My favorite are the fresh dates from The Fresh Market! Start consuming 6 per day, every day starting at 36 weeks for best results.
  10. Affirmations: Birth affirmations are great when paired with meditation for removing stress and fear when another contraction comes along or to keep your body relaxed while pushing during the third stage. Along with affirmations, I like to envision my body acting as a rose or flower opening up for my baby to make his way out. This Pin Board rocks and has a ton of affirmations to choose from!
  11. Several Coping Options: Whether it’s a warm tub, birthing ball, Rebozo Shawl, pacifier for biting down, you name it-have it! Try practicing Belly Dancing for Labor, Hypnobirthing, and Breathing Techniques.

 

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Hypnobirthing: My Experience

I know what you’re thinking, “Really? Hypnotizing me to give birth without meds?! Pass.”

Before you press that little red X up there, let me share my story with you, and you might reconsider…

When I found out I was expecting my first, I was terrified. I wasn’t afraid of the morning sickness, or becoming a mother, or even concerned about how I could love anyone more than his father. I was extremely anxious about , drum roll please, pain medication and anesthesia. Being my first pregnancy and working in a hair salon, I heard tons of stories from other women: the good, the bad, and the down right ugly. Everyone had their opinions, but the one opinion everyone had in common, was to have an epidural. Of course I didn’t want to feel the “pain” of birthing a child, but I also didn’t want myself or my son to suffer from any side effects of the medication. Come delivery day I still hadn’t decided 100% on how I would manage the “pain”.

The time came and I was quickly admitted into Labor and Delivery. 15 minutes after my arrival to triage, I was greeted by a nurse who explained to me that the Anesthesiologist was on her way up to stick three other girls, if I want the Epidural, get it now. This gave me no time to prepare, and I was afraid that if I passed on it, it wouldn’t be available to me if I wanted it. So, I did it.

The needle itself wasn’t awful. I held my nurses hand, since they have the dad’s stand a few feet away in case they pass out. I took a deep breath in and felt a small twinge in my back and it was in. Within 10 minutes, my entire chest and throat were numb and I still had feeling in my legs and left side. They had me sit straight up at a 90 degree angle for almost 2 hours and it never “dripped” into my left side. Upon 7 cm I was fully laboring and feeling every bit of it. I was hooked up to machines, being pumped full of fluids, and looked like a balloon. I was extremely uncomfortable and was having a hard time managing every contraction. I am however, thankful that I did miss out on the “ring of fire” sensation because I had the epidural, but I did feel every bit of labor on my left side.

Fast forward 2 years…

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Because of my experience with the epidural, when I found out I was expecting my second Prince Charming, I immediately opted out of pain medication. I didn’t want to risk having the same experience, if not worse, with this delivery. After taking about 6 weeks to let it set in that I was having another baby, I decided it was time to figure out how I would birth this baby the old fashioned way: non medicated, fully aware, and feeling every bit of it.

I started researching everything I could online about natural birth. I found a TON of different techniques that worked for some but not for others. Once i talked it over with hubby and got an incredible amount of support and faith, I brought up the idea of natural birthing to one of my midwives. (I went to the same practice during my first pregnancy, and hands down would recommend a midwife, well, my midwives for SURE, to anyone expecting a child…That’s a whole post worth of info though so I’ll stop there. 🙂 ) She assured me that with the right mindset, I could do it but, to prepare myself for possibly giving in to medication and that it WAS OKAY if I did. Being that this was my second birth and he was showing himself to likely be a bit smaller than his big brother, I had hope that labor and the pushing process would be shorter and slightly easier to manage. After leaving my appointment and feeling more confident in my decision, I hit the internet hard. I read more than a handful of articles about paying for hypnobirthing classes, buying DVD’s, and paying for webinar type videos online. I just couldn’t talk myself into a $300 class, when I knew all the information I needed was right at my fingertips. I scoured YouTube and watched probably more than 100 videos on natural birth, “live” births, even birthing in the middle of the woods. Every video I watched gave me a boost and made me feel even more confident that I COULD do this. I also found these INCREDIBLE short yoga sessions for free by Katy Appleton. This woman is perfection when it comes to pregnancy yoga. I will post her link below. I started doing her yoga videos once a day, and later in my pregnancy, CRAVED it. There were days I’d hit up her channel 3 times in a day! This opened up such a spiritual side to me that I never knew I had. Which leads me to, my favorite part of the hypnobirthing process, meditation! Everything I read explained to me that hypnobirthing isn’t about being hypnotized with a pocket watch to get rid of your pain, it’s about getting in touch with your body and realizing that the pain sensation you’re having, isn’t actually pain, it’s pressure. It’s a feeling that a woman’s body is meant to feel and it’s completely normal. I devoted 2 hours a day or more, to studying, and I mean studying. I was so focused on finding every method and practicing each one so when my baby’s big debut came, I’d be ready. I was spending my days practicing meditative belly dancing, yoga, bath tub meditation, and listening to my free hypnobirthing app from the App Store (this app is a MUST, I will leave the info for it below this post).

I was feeling so good and was excited to let my family in on my birth plan.

I was extremely excited to tell my family that I was going to try for a natural birth, but didn’t get the exact reaction I had planned by some. Everyone was fully supportive, but a few of my family members asked, “who are you trying to be a hero for?” , “they give medication so you don’t have to feel it, why do you want to feel the pain?” I understood where they were coming from but, I wasn’t trying to be a hero, I just wanted to do what I thought was best for my body and my baby. I honestly think that they didn’t feel confident in my decision or that I would actually follow through once the day came, which is totally understandable because I AM a big baby! Lol But, my mind was set, I was going to have this baby without medication. So, I kept on my routine and practiced my yoga and meditation everyday. I found the best time for my quick yoga sessions were in the morning upon waking, and in the evening before meditation. As for meditation, I got the most out of a session that lasted at least 45 minutes. That gave me enough time to breath, relax, and get to the point where I could let go of everything that day and just focus on my breathing and my baby. I loved meditating in the tub (at a warm, NOT HOT, temperature so you don’t hurt your baby***). It was so calming and peaceful with the lights off and a few candles lit. It was just me and my little boy. I also loved putting my meditation music on once I laid down for bed and letting it put me to sleep. I still do this and I promise it will give you your best sleep ever! The best advice I can give you on meditation, is to actually listen, I mean really listen, to the guide in your music the first few times. Once you listen to the words, you will eventually be able to kind of guide yourself and listen to meditation tracks without a speaker and it will help you understand how to get your body and mind into a trans-like state. My favorite visualization was to think about a floating ball at the end of your feet just floating above them, it can be any calming color of your choice (mine was purple and blue). Try to keep that floating ball in its place and focus on it just floating there. I know it probably doesn’t make sense reading it, but hearing it on a track was so uplifting and soothing and really helped me focus. My other favorite was to think about your body as if it’s a rose opening up. This visualization was great for labor, it really helped me focus on what my body was actually doing and why.

When I got to 34 weeks, I was hitting my studying even harder, doing yoga every single day a handful of times, and NEVER missed a night meditating in my tub or while laying in bed. I was getting nervous and afraid of not having the strength to do this. A part of me was even questioning if I did the right thing by not paying for the classes, but it was too late. I read a ton of great information about drinking red raspberry leaf tea late in your pregnancy to help open your cervix and also using clary sage oil in an infuser during labor. Once I got the “okay,” from my midwife, I was drinking 3 cups a day of red raspberry leaf tea. It wasn’t fruity, it just tastes like a non flavored hot tea. I have also heard that it’s beneficial for your cervix to take primrose oil but, I didn’t try it myself. I packed my hospital bag and included a small vile of clary sage oil and told my hubby to request a room with an essential oil infuser, a tub, and a birthing ball. I thought during my whole pregnancy that I would end up in the tub laboring like all the other women I saw on YouTube, so I was very demanding when it came to requesting a room with a tub. I also brought some battery operated candles, honey sticks, and red raspberry leaf tea bags.

At 4;15 AM on April 4, 2014, I leaned over, grabbed my phone, texted my dad to calmly shower, pack, and head over, and then woke up hubby to tell his mom that we’re ready to go. I got out of bed, used the potty, got dressed, even put on a little make up, made hubby a sandwhich, and walked out the door. Thinking back now, I am pretty sure we forgot something and had to turn around when we got up to the end of our street but, either way I made it to the hospital! We checked into triage and I had to sit with monitors for at least 25 minutes before they would give me a birthing room. This was probably the most difficult time for me honestly. I just wanted to sit on the potty lol and stand, and move but, with the band monitors I had to stay in a certain position so they would get a good reading. FINALLY, I gave them what they needed to send us to our room and once we got in, I had the lights shut off, my infuser full with clary sage oil, battery opperated candels glowing, and my meditation in my ear. A few times, I changed positions but, once I got into a spot I liked, I didn’t want to move from there. I also made my own hospital gowns for my stay which was a little more comfortable than the ones they give out and it smelled like my home instead of a thrift store. lol Believe it or not, I didn’t use a birthing ball or get into the tub but, I did have a few sips of my tea and loved not being hooked up to an IV and only needed monitoring every hour for fifteen minutes.

When I reached 8 cm a nurse came in and asked if I wanted to be checked. I did of course because I was ready to see my baby but, after a cervix check, which is already a tad uncomfortable since my cervix is always high, things can start to move along quicker. Once she was finished, she put my belly bands on and checked on the baby. I remember looking over at her and asking, “does it get harder than this?’ She legit, chuckled and said to me, verbatim, “Honey, you’re done. If you were going to want medication, you would have asked already. You’re past the point that most people give in, you’re doing this and you’re doing amazing.” I started balling. Her words just gave me more encouragement and more satisfaction that I CAN do this, I am already doing this. I’m at the worst part and it’s not even that bad! Granted, it’s not all roses and buttercups but, I did my work, and I worked hard to get to this point so that I could make it this far without the medication. I also remember commenting to my MIL that I wish I had filmed this so, I could put it on You Tube. No joke. & I even looked over at my mom a few minutes later and said to her, Mom, I’m doing this. I have no medication. I”M DOING THIS!” She couldn’t believe it and replied to me that this was the most calm and collected she had EVER seen me in my life. Those of you who personally know me, know that I have a bouncy, puppy dog type personality. 🙂 For my mom to see me so calm and cool was just my mind taking over my body in this meditated state. I loved the music I chose, and had it in my ear the ENTIRE time until my baby was born. I replayed the same song over and over again for almost 5 hours and it kept me in a safe spot in my mind. I didn’t want to change songs mid labor and would squeeze hubby’s hand when I needed a restart on the song. Believe it or not, I was even calm enough to let him venture down stairs, grab some coffee, and even let him eat breakfast in my room while I was in labor. The smell? I didn’t even notice it. I was so involved in my meditation that I could care less.

I finally reached 9 cm, and very soon after, got to 10. My water had to be broken, as it was in my first but, no big deal. My midwife came in, checked that I was at 9, felt around for my water, and simply asked me, “It’s up to you. Do you want me to break it? Do you want to have your baby now or do you want to wait a little while?” I knew I was ready so, I replied, “No, I want to see my baby. I’m ready, let’s do it.” Not even 20 minutes later and I was pushing out my beautiful little man. The only sensation that I remember actually being “painful” was the burning in my legs from pushing and I DID feel that glorious ring of fire down below during my two last pushes getting his shoulders through, which led to two pretty loud screams but, otherwise I was pretty silent and “painless” throughout my laboring and delivery. As I said before, what most people feel as pain is really just pressure and if you put the practice and work into it, as long a things go smoothly for you and your baby to be safe and healthy, you can have a painless labor without medication. I know there are skeptics and those with their experiences and opinions but, this was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life and if I was asked I would do it all  over again the same way.

Before having little Kenedy, I also planned to keep my placenta and encapsulate it. Basically, I found the number to someone who picks up, dehydrates, grinds, and encapsulates your placenta for you within 48 hours of your baby being born. The only thing you have to do is bring a small styrofoam cooler with you to the hospital and fill it with ice. Once you deliver, warn your *help* first, they will package it up for you and place it in a cooler until the person comes to pick it up. I had a terrible recovering 8 months with Colin as far as my body goes. I was always tired, hungry, nauseous, getting small cysts in my ovaries, I was just a mess. So, when I heard about this process and that it rejuvenates all of the lost nutrients in your body, I was game. I know this may seem a little taboo but, really, it’s just like taking any other vitamin but, probably better for you since it’s from your body. Did you know we’re one of the only mammals who don’t eat our placentas after birth? Crazy right? And in a lot of other cultures it’s just a normal thing, for a lot of mothers, their placenta is their first meal after giving birth. Okay, enough of my side track, back to my story….

So, right after they burst my water, baby had a bowel movement and my midwife informed me that I may not be able to keep my placenta but, baby is healthy and it was only a little. I was terrified. I did all this hard work and the only words I heard her say are: Meconium, bowel movement, baby, might not be able to…My immediate thought was, “OMG. No, I am not having a C section. I have worked so hard, I’m almost done. No.” I asked her out loud if I was going to have a Cesarean delivery because of the baby’s little accident but she laughed and told me absolutely not! You’re ready and the baby is still healthy. He just wants out! After about 20 minutes of pushing, baby was here and I remember grabbing for him and just saying, “my baby, my baby.” He immediately latched on and had no problem looking at the world around him with his uber huge eyes and bright smile. I couldn’t believe how alert he was and pulled his head up on his own within the first few minutes of being born. Everyone in the room was amazed by him and by my experience and couldn’t believe that I had this baby with no medication. Even the nurses were discussing it among other nurses who came in to weigh and check the baby. Unfortunately, our little KK was jaundice and had to have 28 hours of phototherapy which, led to tears every time he left my side. But, today he is my healthy little bundle of patience, kindness, and big brown eyes.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I know it may have been a little jumbled, criss crossed, and long but, please, if you are considering a natural birth for your baby, feel free to contact me at any time. I am in no way an expert on hypnobirthing to birthing in general but, I am an expert at my personal story and I know what did and didn’t work for me. The best advice I can give you is to be open. Be open to change, ideas, techniques, and to others’ advice. There are so many things I practiced that I “KNEW” I would use during my laboring process but, when it came down to it, I only used less than a handful. Also, if you have a story or similar experience you would like to share, please leave it in the comment section below for other readers to see!

These videos below helped me SO much to keep my mind right through practice! Thanks to Tracey for all of her amazing words!

Also, follow her on instagram for amazing inspirational video clips! @hypnobirthingrocks

This one is a bit GRAPHIC so, watch at your own risk 🙂 But, I love that this video shows the placenta and the baby’s sac! It’s amazing!!