Natural Birth

Top 10 Ways to Prepare for a Natural Childbirth

Photo Credit: Kadi Tiede

Photo Credit: Kadi Tiede

Entering into your pregnancy journey is fun and exhilarating for most mamas and their partners. Once you get past the initial excitement, you may find yourself overwhelmed with all of the decisions that come with pregnancy, labor, birth and after. One of these decisions for you, may be deciding to have a natural childbirth. Whether you choose to be in the hospital, a birth center or at home, there are many ways to help prepare for a natural birth. Here are the top 10 ways to prepare for a natural birth:

Childbirth Education Classes: It is very important to educate yourself and your partner. A great way to do this is taking a Childbirth Education Class. If you are planning to deliver in a hospital, it is a good idea to find a class outside of the hospital to help you prepare better. At Health Foundations Birth Center we have childbirth education for families delivering with us that is tailored to delivering at the birth center. 

Hire a Doula:  Having a doula by your side during labor is not only comforting but also it proven to help reduce interventions including cesareans. Typically doulas also provide education during prenatal meetings. Interview 2-3 to make sure you find one that is a good fit. You can find a doula through friends that have used one or via the Internet.

Choosing a Provider and Facility: Once you find out you are pregnant, take your time over a few weeks to put research into finding a provider that fits your desires and needs.  If you are choosing a hospital, take a tour of a couple of different ones. You have the option of choosing hospital midwives (usually) or an OB.  Out of hospital options are wonderful for women who would like a natural birth. If you find that your and your provider aren’t meshing well, keep in mind that you can always transfer to a different provider. Current research shows your chance of having a c-section can be directly linked to the provider and / or hospital you choose. 

Nutrition and Exercise Keeping up with nutrition and exercise are one of the keys to staying healthy in pregnancy, which helps during labor.  Although we sometimes think it is a time to indulge, it is quite the opposite! Be sure to fill your diet with good proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Try and limit sugar as much as possible. If you had an exercise routine before pregnancy, usually you can continue with that. Walking, swimming and yoga are wonderful options for staying active in pregnancy. Always check with your provider before you start an exercise routine in pregnancy.

Self-Care: As your body changes, remember to allow time for self-care. Take time to rest, go on more dates with your partner, get a massage, spend time with friends, read a book in a quiet space, take warm baths in the evening. All of these things help to alleviate stress, which is good for you and your baby.

Supplements: Along with a healthy diet, there are some great supplements that help prepare your body for a health, low-risk labor and birth. Try and choose a food-based prenatal vitamin such as Rainbow Light Prenatal Vitamins. Click here for more information on choosing supplements. Always check with your provider before choosing a new supplement to add to your diet.

Reading: Find reading material that is not only educational but also positive. One of our favorites is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin. Not only is it very informative but also has wonderful birth stories to read. For your partner, a great read is The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin.

Baby Positioning: Trying to get your baby into an optimal position is more important that you would think! There are many ways to do this during the last weeks in pregnancy especially. Posture is an easy way to help get your baby in to stay in an optimal position. You want your baby to be in an anterior position rather than posterior. This will help your labor and birth to be much less uncomfortable. Seeing a chiropractor in pregnancy has been proven to help significantly with this. Be sure to look for a chiropractor that specializes in pregnancy. Another good resource is www.spinningbabies.com.

Birth Plan: Take time to prepare a birth plan with your partner. A doula can help with this as well. Keep your birth plan simple and to the point. Be sure to communicate your labor and birth desires to your provider. Give a copy of your birth plan to your provider and bring a copy with you in your birth bag.

Find Your Tribe: Now is the time to surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Sometimes they may find it challenging to accept your labor and birth decisions. Remember to set healthy boundaries. People love telling scary stories about birth. While it is important for them to process these feelings personally, it is not the time to do it when you are pregnant. Gently remind them to save those stories for later. Find a good support system whether it be your family, friends, or an outside group.

At Health Foundations Birth Center your choices matter to us. We are here as a community of women to support you during pregnancy, birth and beyond. Call us today for a consultation or tour, 651-895-2520 or visit us at www.health-foundations.com

The Definition Of Perfection: A Baby's Birth Goes According To Plan

Courtesy of Emily Grace Whebbe

Courtesy of Emily Grace Whebbe

In recounting our birth story, I finally fully understand the definition of a word I have used so many times: perfection.

Although I write this after a generous dose of oxytocin from breastfeeding, I will try not to embellish beyond belief. Perfection is a word and concept I rarely use or believed in, unsure of it's even existence. However, after going through the experience of childbirth and now being able to be a part of this incredible baby's life, I realize that what happened more than a week ago was as close to perfection as I could experience. Let's start at 3:00 a.m., Thursday, August 4th.

Read more about baby Revira on npr.org

Dispelling the Top Myths About Water Birth

Health Foundations Birth Center Water Birth

With water births becoming an increasingly popular natural birthing option, there are of course many misconceptions about the practice out there. From concerns about infection, to worries about the baby drowning or inhaling water, there are plenty of scary myths about water births that aren’t necessarily true. Here are the top 7 myths we hear about water births and why you shouldn’t worry!

Top 7 Myths of Water Birth

  1. You have to be naked to have a water birth: If modesty is a concern for you and you don’t want to feel overly exposed during birth, fear not, there are no rules stating that one must be naked during a water birth. You are free to wear whatever top you feel comfortable in, be it a t-shirt, sports bra or tankini top. What’s most important is that you are comfortable and are able to more freely throughout your labor and delivery. 
  2. Your baby will be more likely to get an infection if born into water: The risk for infection is one of the most commonly cited fears about water birth. The reality is that the rate of infant infection reported in water births is less than .01 percent. Although many women do pass a stool while pushing their baby out some experts believe that the water perhaps might even provide a partial barrier to infection by diluting any bacteria making it less likely to cause harm to the baby. 
  3. Your baby will overheat if you have a water birth: The maximum temperature recommended for a water birth is 98 degrees Fahrenheit. Your baby is not at risk of overheating at this temperature and will be born into a comfortable and womb-like environment in the water. You can also choose to have the temperature cooler if that is more comfortable for you. The water temperature and your temperature will be checked routinely throughout labor and delivery to ensure that you are not overheating and your midwife will also help ensure that you stay adequately hydrated throughout the process.
  4. Having a water birth will cause more vaginal tearing: On the contrary, water births actually have lower rates of perineal trauma and vaginal tearing than non-water births due to the added elasticity because of the water. Water immersion has also been shown to help relax the pelvic floor which ultimately aids in the descent and pushing out of baby.
  5. You can’t get out of the tub if you decide to have a water birth: Water immersion can be utilized during your birth experience for any part, the entirety, or on and off throughout your birth experience. There’s no rule that says that once you are in the water you need to stay in. Should your body tell you that you need to get out and move around or you’ve decided you’d be more comfortable birthing outside of the tub, you absolutely have that flexibility to make changes as you see fit. 
  6. Your baby might drown if born into the water: Another common concern shared about delivering in water is whether or not there is risk of baby drowning. However, when your baby is born he is actually still receiving his oxygen supply from the placenta. Once he emerges from the vaginal canal he will be immediately lifted out of the water which will then signal his body to shift over to breathing through his lungs and increase blood flow to that area.  
  7. You have to be young to have a water birth: There is no age cut off for when a woman is no longer able to have a water birth. Instead, your midwife or doctor will assess your health and the health of your baby and help you make an informed decision based on those factors. Factors that may prevent you from having a water birth include maternal infection, a breech baby, excessive bleeding or other complications that may make a water birth unsafe for you or your baby. 

If you are interested in possibly having a water birth but have concerns about the process, contact Health Foundations to speak with a midwife who will be happy to alleviate your worries, address your concerns, and answer all of your questions . We are happy to offer free consultations and tours of our Birth Center, including viewing our homelike birthing suites with new built-in birthing tubs. We would love to be part of your birthing experience and help you decide if water birth is for you!

Top 10 Benefits of Water Birth

Water Birth Couple

Photo Credit: Swaddle Shots Photography

The use of water immersion during labor and birth has become an increasingly popular option in the natural birth community due to the many benefits to both mom and baby. For baby, being born into water closely replicates the womb environment creating a gentle birth setting. And for mom, laboring and birthing in water has many benefits ranging from its soothing nature and pain relief to easily being able to reposition your body to follow its natural inclinations throughout labor.

At Health Foundations Birth Center, we frequently have women who desire a water birth. Our midwives are highly experienced in supporting women who wish to labor and/or give birth in water and both of our birthing suites are equipped with large built-in tubs that are available to you throughout your experience. Here are the top 10 benefits of having a water birth:

  1. Warm water during labor and delivery has been found to greatly reduce discomfort and increase relaxation for mom. The soothing nature of water helps mom to not only feel weightless but to experience the calming effects of hydrotherapy.
  2. Because mom is better able to relax during labor, less stress hormones are released and the body is able to produce more endorphins which have pain reducing effects. 
  3. The buoyancy experienced in a water birth allows mom to move about freely and follow her body’s natural urges. This consequently can help the pelvis open and the baby descend into the birth canal more easily. 
  4. Water immersion has been shown to lower blood pressure caused by anxiety. Because less stress hormones are released due to the calming nature of the water, many women report they are not only able to relax more physically but mentally as well. 
  5. Another benefit of the buoyancy effect of water is that it has been shown to improve blood circulation leading to more efficient uterine contractions and ultimately a shorter labor duration. 
  6. Improved blood circulation also creates better oxygenation of the uterine muscles and more oxygen for baby during labor. Improved oxygenation of the uterine muscles is also associated with decreased pain for mom. 
  7. Water creates more elasticity to the perineum typically resulting in a lower incidence of perineal trauma and the need for stitches or an episiotomy. Water has also been shown to aid in relaxing the pelvic floor which is beneficial when it is time to push.
  8. Women who birth in water report feeling more in control of their bodies, the progression of labor and the birth of their baby. Because they are able to conserve energy due to increased relaxation, they often feel more clear-minded and strong when it comes time to push the baby out. 
  9. Water births have been shown to reduce the likelihood of needing unplanned interventions, anesthesia, pain medications, and C-sections.
  10. In addition to the many amazing benefits a water birth provides for mom, perhaps one of the greatest benefits is the stress-free, calming and gentle welcome it provides for baby. Birthing in a warm water tub offers an environment that is similar to the womb where baby has snugly lived for nine months.

We are thrilled to be able to offer the option of water birth at Health Foundations and invite you to contact us for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center to learn more. The remarkable physiological and psychological benefits hydrotherapy provides to mom and baby make water birth a truly special birthing option for you and your family.

Photo Credit: Raven Ivory

Why We Love The Business of Being Born (And You Should, Too!)

Business of Being Born Banner

Did you know that the US currently has one of the highest infant mortality rates among industrialized nations? Though you may find this to be shocking given the wealth of our nation and available technology, this issue is among several concerns about birth in the US that Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein set out to explore in their documentary, The Business of Being Born. This cutting edge documentary was created with the intent to provide women with a thorough examination of the current state of the birth industry in the United States. Through raw footage of empowering homebirths, candid interviews with mothers, doctors, midwives and other health professionals, and an analysis of common hospital birth practices, Lake and Epstein have created a provocative and informative film that is a must-see for all women. 

Why They Created It:

Ricki Lake initially sought to create a film examining common birth practices in the US after her own first birthing experience left her feeling unsatisfied and like something was missing. Interested in the factors leading to the decline of the use of midwives and the increase in the use of medical interventions, including C-sections, Lake hoped to expose some of the reasons women feel unequipped to have a natural birth. Epstein, a strong proponent of natural homebirth directs the documentary while pregnant herself and as you see in the end provides viewers with a firsthand account of why it is necessary to be flexible sometimes with your birth plan in spite of your own wishes.  

Why We Like It:

This film is all about empowering women to realize the tremendous and natural capabilities of their own bodies without intervention. Through extensive and awe-inspiring footage of natural births, The Business of Being Born successfully shows that women need not fear childbirth and that they have the strength within themselves that they will need to birth their baby. The post-birth euphoria that the new moms experience in the film is palpable through the screen and allows viewers to see some of what they might be missing should they feel pressured to undergo a cascade of medical interventions at the hands of their doctors. Lake and Epstein also take a look at the potential motivations for hospitals to encourage the use of interventions and in some cases even favor the use of Cesarean sections to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit. This film is beautifully feminist yet will appeal to any individual who is expecting a baby and wants their partner to have the dignity of the choice to have a childbirth that is best for her and her new baby. 

What You’ll Learn:

The Business of Being Born is a treasure trove of interesting facts about the history of childbirth in the United States, the decline of midwifery and the rise of and reasons for the medicalization of birth. A few topics explored in the film include:

  • The cascade effect of childbirth interventions 
  • The reasons many obstetricians are ill-suited to attend to natural births 
  • The economic implications to hospitals when allowing women to follow their body’s natural birth plan without intervention
  • The risks associated with repeat Cesarean sections
  • The primal bonding mechanism of the natural birth process
  • The relationship between the growth of technology and the changes to the childbirth industry in the US
  • The power, pride, and strength a woman experiences through natural birth.

The Take Home Message:

All women deserve the right to make informed decisions about their childbirth experience. Whether you choose to birth at home, in a birth center or at the hospital, you are entitled to the right to be educated, empowered and supported in the process. Lake and Epstein have created a powerful film that boldly personifies this mission through real life accounts, professional commentary, and raw footage. The Business of Being Born is a must-see for all women expecting a baby. This December, Health Foundations is thrilled to welcome the esteemed creators of this cutting edge documentary to our EVERY WOMAN CAN event at Aria. Lake and Epstein will give the keynote address during this night of celebration, community, and empowerment. For more information about EVERY WOMAN CAN, visit our website at http://www.everywomancan.co/.

The Quick Guide to Natural Childbirth

Natural Birth

If you have decided on or are considering birthing in a setting like a freestanding birth center, it perhaps has to do in part with your desire to have a natural birth experience. It is estimated that approximately 85 percent of childbearing women are considered low-risk and are great candidates for a natural birth. But what is a natural birth exactly and what does it entail? Are there really worthwhile benefits to it and how much pain will I experience? These are all important questions when considering your birth plan. Here are the whos, whats, wheres and whys of the choice of natural birth.

What is a natural birth?

Natural birth is a vaginal birth that is free of pain medication and has minimal, if any, medical interventions. With a natural birth, the mother is in control of the labor process; she is a part of each and every decision, including when it’s time to rest, change positions and push, with her care providers acting as support throughout the process. 

Why do women choose to have a natural birth?

There are many reasons women choose to have a natural birth. Whether you are expecting your first baby or had a past birth experience that left you wanting to try something different, here are a few of the top reasons moms choose natural birth:

  • To have a sense of control over the birthing process
  • They view birth as a natural, normal, non-medical event
  • To have a sense of presence and awareness during birth
  • To have the ability to move about freely during labor
  • To have the ability to follow the lead of your body’s natural instincts
  • Less invasive
  • To avoid unnecessary medical interventions
  • To avoid undesirable side effects of pain medication to mom and baby (such as drowsiness, a drop in blood pressure or nausea)
  • To avoid undesirable side effects of pain medication on labor (such as slowing or stopping the progress)
  • A sense of empowerment
  • Reduced risk of certain interventions such as the use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin), forceps and vacuum extraction
  • The ability to eat and drink throughout labor

Where do women have natural births?

While you can absolutely have a natural birth in a hospital setting with the right supportive team and a clear birth plan, you might find that a birth center is more conducive to your goal of a natural delivery (It is important to note that some hospitals call their labor & delivery units "birth centers"...this is not what we are referring to). Birth centers place a strong emphasis on empowering women to realize the amazing capabilities of their own bodies without intervention or pain medicine. Another option for natural birth is having your baby in your own home. This approach typically includes the attendance and care of a midwife. 

Who can have a natural birth and who attends them?

As previously stated, approximately 85 percent of women are considered great candidates for a natural, vaginal delivery. However, in order to plan for a natural delivery, a woman should ideally have a low-risk pregnancy with few complications or other existing serious conditions. 

A natural birth can be attended by a doctor or midwife, along with a birth assistant and a doula, depending on your setting and personal preferences. Continuous care and support from a midwife or doula throughout labor has been associated with lower rates of the use of pain medicine, incidence of C-sections and other interventions in addition to shorter labors and greater overall satisfaction with the birth experience.

How do women cope with the pain of a natural birth?

Every woman will experience the pain of childbirth differently. Fortunately, there are many alternative forms of pain management that can be used during a natural birth instead of medication or an epidural. Here are just a few of them:

Nitrous oxide for Labor Pain
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Water immersion/water birth
  • Massage
  • Relaxation
  • Acupressure
  • Acupuncture
  • Visualization
  • Hot/cold compresses
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Deep breathing
  • Yoga
  • Changing positions
  • Distraction
  • Visual imagery
  • Meditation
  • Walking
  • Hypnosis
  • Birthing ball

Consider taking child birth preparedness classes that focus on natural birth and pain management. The better prepared you are, the more tools you will have to help you achieve your goal of a natural birth.

What if something goes wrong?

The most important thing with any birth plan is to approach it with flexibility and a willingness to heed the advice of your caregivers who have you and your baby’s best interest at heart. While having a natural birth is typically very safe, complications do arise occasionally where medical interventions are not only suggested but necessary. Beginning with a caregiver that you trust is an important step to helping you feel confident and comfortable in the event that a change is made to the plan involving unexpected interventions. Just know that no matter what course your birth ends up taking, whether it is perfectly natural or ends in a C-section, you and your body have done an incredible, life-giving thing. There is no shame in a birth that does not go as planned.

For questions about natural birth, prenatal and postpartum care and all other women’s care services, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. Our goal is to support you in realizing your body’s tremendous strength and potential.

10 Cool Facts About Nitrous Oxide for Labor Pain

Nitrous Oxide In Labor

Rapidly increasing in popularity in the US, nitrous oxide is a safe and affordable option for pain relief during labor in both hospitals and birth centers alike. With both anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) and analgesic (pain reducing) effects at low doses, nitrous oxide is becoming the choice of many women who want to forego or postpone more invasive options like an epidural yet wish to have some relief from pain intensity throughout labor and birth. Here are ten cool facts about the use of nitrous oxide during labor that you may not know!

  1. Nitrous oxide was commonly used for pain relief during labor in the US up until the 1960s and 1970s when the use of the epidural rapidly popularized. With the rise of epidurals, the use of nitrous oxide became virtually obsolete until around 2011 when midwives began bringing the practice back. You will now find nitrous oxide available for pain relief during labor in over 100 hospitals and over 50 birth centers in the United States. 
  2. While the use of nitrous oxide for labor pain plummeted in the US with the inception of the epidural analgesic, the practice remained commonplace in other areas with sophisticated healthcare systems around the world such as Australia, Europe, New Zealand and Canada.
  3. While many believe that the nitrous oxide received during labor is the same as what you receive at the dentist, it’s actually less concentrated. When you utilize nitrous oxide during labor, the gas you are receiving is 50 percent N2O and 50 percent oxygen. Dentists use varying concentrations of nitrous oxide for their patients but can use up to 70 percent N2O and only 30 percent oxygen.
  4. Another way that nitrous oxide for labor is different than the nitrous oxide you receive at the dentist is that during labor it is controlled by the woman only. You will be given a handheld mask that contains a demand valve which opens to release the nitrous oxide when you inhale. When you exhale, the valve will close. This allows the woman in labor to use the nitrous oxide when she feels she needs it and to place it aside when she does not. This is much different than an epidural which is inserted into your spine and typically gives a continuous dose of analgesic throughout the rest of labor. Conversely, once you remove the nitrous oxide mask during labor, the effects will dissipate in about five minutes.
  5. While epidurals typically remove or greatly lessen the pain of labor, women who have used nitrous oxide report that they still feel the pain but their perception of it is altered. Because of the anxiety-reducing effects of the nitrous oxide, many women are better able to handle difficult contractions and other painful parts of the process with its use.
  6. You may begin using nitrous oxide for pain relief at any stage of labor or even post-delivery. There is no cut off in the process of labor when the treatment becomes unsafe making it a great option for moms who wish to try to make it as far as they can without any sort of medical intervention. Some mothers even decide not to use it until they are undergoing repairs following the birth for any tears occurred.
  7. If there was not an initial need for continuous fetal monitoring of your baby prior to your decision to use nitrous oxide, there will be no need for continuous monitoring after. You will still be free to move about, change positions, use a birthing ball or tub or any other position you wish to labor in after you have used the nitrous oxide. Your midwife or doctor will just want to ensure you are not experiencing any dizziness from the treatment before you go walking around but this is a quite uncommon side effect.
  8. There has been no evidence found that the use of nitrous oxide during labor slows the progression of labor at all. Particularly because you are able to move about freely in positions that are conducive to birthing, baby is able to further make his way into the birth canal. Nitrous oxide also does not impede the body’s natural production of oxytocin which is necessary for labor to progress.
  9. One of the most important factors to know when considering the use of nitrous oxide during labor is that it is safe for both mother and baby. Unlike certain narcotics that are often used during labor such as fentanyl, there is no risk of depressing baby’s breathing with nitrous oxide. It also should not negatively impact the infant’s alertness upon delivery and consequently, there should not be an effect on his ability to breastfeed and bond with the mother or father during the time period following delivery.
  10. Although unfortunately many insurance companies do not cover nitrous oxide treatment for labor at this time, the cost of nitrous oxide is significantly cheaper than having an epidural. And, unlike an epidural which requires a hospital birth and the presence (and a bill from) an anesthesiologist, nitrous oxide can often be offered at a birth center by a midwife.

If you are considering alternative options for pain control during labor, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife to discuss the benefits and risks associated with the use of nitrous oxide. We’d be happy to give you a tour of our Birth Center and answer any questions you might have about delivering at our Center and becoming part of the Health Foundations family.

 

Five Things to Expect During Your Postpartum Recovery

As mothers and mothers to be, we typically spend a great deal of time planning and preparing for our child’s birth. We read books, take prenatal classes, write birth plans, pack bags, wash, fold and organize baby laundry and so much more in preparation for the big day. Very few of us however, give much thought to what the postpartum period will be like for OUR bodies. Consumed with the excitement of our baby to be, we may forget that once we bring home our bundle of joy we too will need care, rest and healing as we recover from the amazing feat of giving birth. Here are 5 things to expect from your postpartum recovery.

  1. Heavy bleeding: As your body sheds the uterine lining and also bleeds from where the placenta was attached, you will experience heavy bleeding known as lochia. You may see blood clots in this bleeding and it will likely appear bright red at first. The intensity of the bleeding should subside with time and gradually turn to spotting before it stops. Typically, this should last approximately 2-6 weeks after you give birth. To prepare, stock up on heavy duty overnight strength sanitary pads, mesh panties and even adult diapers can be a great option. This applies whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section.
  2. Some pain and discomfort: Take a moment to consider what an incredible thing it is that your body is going to birth a 6-10 pound baby. With this incredible miracle comes hard work and its fair share of aches and pains. Whether you have a natural birth or a C-section, you can expect to experience some cramping, soreness, muscle aches and joint pains. With a vaginal delivery you may also experience some burning and soreness of the perineum and with a C-section, pain at the incision site and abdominal pain as you recover from major surgery.
  3. Hormonal side effects: As your body seeks to adjust hormonally after giving birth, you will likely experience a few unpleasant side effects. These may include fluctuating emotions and weepiness, hot flashes, night sweats and chills, and continued feelings of clumsiness from the production of the hormone relaxin. Give yourself some grace during this period as you may not feel like yourself despite your excitement over your new baby. If you are concerned that the baby blues may be developing into something more serious like postpartum depression, contact your midwife, doctor or a counselor for support. There are many wonderful resources available for women suffering from postpartum depression. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 
  4. Breast changes: As your milk comes in after baby is born, you may experience some engorgement and sore nipples and breasts as your supply adjusts to meet baby’s needs. You may also notice that your nipples appear darker. If you are recovering from a C-section, breastfeeding can initially be more challenging due to pain from your surgery and having to find a position that is comfortable for you and your newborn while you heal. Fear not though, it will get easier with time and your milk supply will adjust as you and your baby find your rhythm. Consider having nipple pads on hand for leaking breasts, cooling pads or ice packs for sore breasts and a nipple cream for aching and cracking nipples. Be sure to signup for our next Pumptalk 101 class if you have extra questions or would like some more suggestions.
  5. Constipation, incontinence, and frequent trips to the bathroom: Depending on how you delivered and your own personal recovery, you may experience a period of constipation following giving birth and/or urinary or fecal incontinence. A vaginal delivery can cause temporary nerve damage around the bladder making it more difficult to sense when you need to go to the bathroom. You may also have weakened bladder muscles, hemorrhoids and though less common, tears to the anal sphincter causing fecal leakage. Conversely, you may also experience constipation due to the slowing of your metabolism and digestive tract. Talk to your doctor or midwife for effective ways to manage these various side effects.

It’s not uncommon for the postpartum period to be filled with excitement, exhaustion, trepidation and feeling a bit overwhelmed. Make sure that amidst all the emotions and adjustments, you allow time for your own care and recovery. Your body has just undergone the incredible journey of childbirth and needs time to rest and heal so that you can focus on caring for your new, beautiful baby. 

Empowering Woman to Make Informed Choices: EVERY WOMAN CAN, December 09, 2016

Photo by Dany St-Arnaud/iStock / Getty Images

Health Foundations is thrilled to announce our upcoming special event this December 9th, 2016, EVERY WOMAN CAN. This night of community, celebration, empowerment, great music and honored speakers will take place at Aria and will feature keynote speakers, Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein and the musical stylings of female folk singers, Indigo Girls.

The EVERY WOMAN CAN movement was founded by our very own Amy Johnson-Grass of Health Foundations and its mission is to empower and support women in making informed choices for childbirth and their bodies. EVERY WOMAN CAN is a community for every woman, throughout womanhood, pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood and beyond. No matter what choices you make for your body or childbirth, we strive to support one another in recognizing the incredible strength and potential we have as women.

Ricki Lake & Abby Epstein

To celebrate this powerful mission with us, we welcome Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, creators of the raw and thought-provoking documentary, the Business of Being Born. Lake is a well-known advocate in the birthing community having served on the board of the nonprofit organization, Choices in Childbirth for many years. In their keynote address, these seasoned advocates of the birth community will address informed decision making and natural birth. Lake and Epstein’s work and life’s missions embody the spirit of the EVERY WOMAN CAN movement, seeking to empower women with knowledge and choices and to recognize the extraordinary potential of our bodies.

Indigo Girls

The grand finale of this special evening will be an exciting performance from none other than Grammy Award winning folk rock band, Indigo Girls. Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are not only known for their hit albums and timeless ballads, but their profound political and environmental activism and support for women issues. Ray and Saliers will close the evening with a performance following the key note speakers and a social hour to allow us all time to connect and celebrate.

Health Foundations is proud to partner with Free the Girls, Nurture Project International and Esther’s Home to bring you this incredible night to remember. A portion of the proceeds from the event will go towards supporting these organizations and their commendable causes. Here’s a little bit about the work of these partnering organizations:

Free the Girls provides a unique opportunity for victims of sex trafficking to rebuild their lives through operating their own business selling secondhand clothing while going to school, establishing a home and caring for their families. Joined together with fellow survivors, these brave women sell second-hand bras to other women in need around the world. Health Foundations is honored to be an official drop off site for bra donations that benefit the Free the Girls organization.

Nurture Project International is a US-based, nonprofit organization that provides resources for communities impacted by crisis and disaster. Through the organization and support of volunteers, Nurture Project seeks to provide tangible services to those people whose lives have been negatively impacted by crisis and who are suffering the most.

Esther's Home is a support center for victims of domestic violence that provides shelter, programs, education and counseling to women and children as they rebuild their lives following abuse. Esther’s Home seeks to equip women with the tools and support necessary to reclaim their lives and well being following the traumatic experience of domestic violence.

Together with Health Foundations, these organizations eagerly await the EVERY WOMAN CAN event at Aria on December 9 th , 2016. Please join us for this momentous, once in a lifetime opportunity to join hands with women from around the world to celebrate a woman’s right to choose. To purchase tickets to EVERY WOMAN CAN, please visit the website at http://www.everywomancan.co/ or contact Health Foundations directly with questions. We look forward to celebrating with you!

Harlow Kristianna's Birth Story - "The Day You Were Born"

Introducing Baby Harlow Kristianna

Introducing Baby Harlow Kristianna

It was like any other Thursday night. We were still a week away from our due date and I was positive you were going to arrive fashionably late... just like your mama! Your daddy was out of state for a work meeting in Iowa as I had no contractions (even Braxton Hicks) by this time and we were positive your debut was still at least a week out. 

I was itching to put the final touches on your nursery and there was one special item (an elephant mobile) that I had been pining after for weeks but had to go to Woodbury to pick it up in the store. I decided that tonight was the night to complete your “nest.” I packed Scout (our wiener dog) into the car and we made a girls’ road trip over to Buy Buy Baby in Woodbury. On the way there, your BG (Daddy’s mom) called me to check and see how I was doing since Daddy was out of town. She seemed quite concerned that I was out driving by myself “all the way to Woodbury.” I explained that I felt fine and that it was only Woodbury, not Albert Lea or Duluth and that she needn’t worry. She made me promise to text her when Scout and I were safe at home.

I found the mobile within a few minutes of the store closing and got back in the car to head home to Edina. Then your Papa Joe called me (Mama’s dad) and also was curious to know if I had felt any “stirrings” of Tiny T (what we called you since we didn’t know if you were a boy or girl). Again, I tried to assure him that I was positive you would be coming AFTER your due date and that with your Daddy out of town, I was sure it wouldn’t be happening in the next 24 hours. Little did I know what the next 24 hours would hold...

I returned home and decided that I would put the mobile up myself and take that final nursery picture to post on Facebook, indicating to the world, but mostly myself, that we were officially “ready” for you to arrive! I talked with your Daddy on the phone for a few minutes before bed and went to sleep.

Then it happened. At about 12:15 a.m., I felt my first contraction. It was no “fake” contraction or false labor, either. I had never felt a contraction before and it wasn’t painful or even uncomfortable at this time... just “present.” I KNEW this was the beginning of your journey into the world and our lives. I tried to get back to sleep, as this is what everyone had advised me to do when I felt like labor was beginning. And I did sleep. Until about 1 am, when the next contraction came.

I decided to get up and go to the bathroom and then call your Daddy. I woke him between 1:30 and 2 a.m. and told him that labor had started, but that I was fine and wasn’t feeling like things were progressing at a rate where he needed to be alarmed or even change his plans. He was planning to be home by 4:00 p.m. later that day (Friday) anyway. I had heard that many first-time moms have long labors, and I was preparing myself for a long labor, possibly even several days. Again, I went back to sleep.

Again, I awoke to another contraction, this time around 2:25 a.m. Could it be that the contractions were picking up speed? I decided to stay awake and just time/monitor the gaps between contractions to be more certain. As it turned out, contractions had indeed picked up in pace and were between 20-25 minutes apart. I tried my best to remain calm and decided to call your Daddy again just to give him an update. When we spoke, he seemed a bit more concerned and urged me to at least call the midwife pager and alert them of my status. He wanted me to call him back after I had spoken to a midwife, so I agreed to do that. It must’ve been about 4 in the morning when I received a call back from the midwife, Katrina, who asked me some questions about how I was feeling, the contraction rate and intensity, and also about your Daddy’s ETA. I remember her saying, “Well, if it were me and my husband were that far away, I would call him and tell him to start heading home right away. He probably won’t be able to eat, sleep or even focus on work much if he knows his wife is in labor!” She also encouraged me to call back should things change or pick up in pace in the next few hours. 

I called your Daddy (again!) and told him that he should probably cancel his meetings and start heading back to Minnesota, since he had about a 6 hour drive ahead of him. Contractions were now between 15-20 minutes apart. He urged me to call Amber, our doula, to see if she could come to our house and be with me until he could get home. He said he would get on the road as soon as he could. I needed to get up and take Scout outside for her morning potty break.

We ventured down the nine flights in our building’s elevator and slowly made our way to the back door. We walked around in the grass patch for a few minutes and she took care of her business. We headed back inside because after morning outings, always comes breakfast! When we got back in the apartment, I fed her and as I bent over to put the food in her bowl, I noticed that the contractions were now coming more quickly. I timed the gaps between them for a few minutes and I was now at 5-6 minutes apart! This couldn’t be happening... your Daddy was still hours away!

I called him to get an update on when he’d left and informed him that things had really sped up (I think because of the activity of taking Scout out). At this point, I wouldn’t say that I was in a panic; but I was definitely pretty anxious about the possibility that you could arrive and your father might miss your birth! I asked him if we could pray together over the phone as I just didn’t know what else to do. We asked God for peace in labor and that, if it was His will, things could slow down until your Daddy got home. I felt a sense of relief after the prayer in that we’d placed the situation in God’s hands. I also told your Daddy that Amber was on her way and at least I’d have someone (someone very knowledgeable and encouraging) by my side until he got back. 

Amber arrived shortly after my conversation with Daddy and I updated her on where things were at. I had started writing down the times of my contractions on a piece of scratch paper so we could look for patterns and truly capture how long I’d been in labor. She took over charting the times and also provided me with some comfort during my contractions by applying pressure to my lower back, which was where I was starting to feel most of my labor pains. We reviewed the gaps between contractions and I was slowing down... 12-14 minutes between them again! God had heard and answered our prayer! I feel quite sure that He also orchestrated us contracting Amber as a doula (another story for another time) so that she could be there for me/us during these crucial moments of labor. She did a fantastic job of distracting me, chatting with me and alleviating any remaining traces of anxiety I had about your Daddy still not being home.

Amber helped me with water and snacks throughout the next several hours, making sure I kept my fluids and energy levels up. With each contraction getting stronger and more intense, she helped me find positions and comfort measures to endure each “wave.” We labored on the floor/hands-and-knees, on the couch/on my side, and on the yoga ball. I continued to struggle with the back labor and felt that being on my hands and knees in a modified downward dog position provided the most relief. 

Finally, at about 2:45, your Daddy walked through the door! I can honestly say, next to the day he showed up for our wedding, that was probably the happiest I’ve ever been to see him!!! We all decided to eat a good hearty lunch together in the event that things should speed up again. And that’s exactly what happened. In just the few short minutes following your Daddy’s arrival, the contractions began to pick up in pace and intensity again. (It’s pretty amazing to reflect on the mind/body connection and how I witnessed this in real time during your birth!) We were back down to about 6 minutes again and after that point, I have to admit, things got a little blurry for me. I remember eating some of my salad and burrito. I also recall Amber suggesting that maybe I should move to the bathtub for some extra relief for my back pain. A bath was drawn and I remember there being candles and very dim lighting, which was very calming. I don’t really know how long I was in the tub for, but Amber sat right beside me coaching and praising me through each contraction. I also remember asking if we could bring the ball into the tub and just turn on the shower and let the stream of water beat down on my lower back as I hugged the ball. My request was granted and I got through the next however many contractions in this manor. 

Other than that, I can reflect on the experience of going very deeply into myself and blocking out much of whatever else was happening around me. I do know I was repeating the lyrics of U2’s “Every Breaking Wave” over and over in my mind, both as a focus point AND as a distraction. I was moaning and breathing very deeply with each contraction and I also found myself calling on God’s strength and the strength of my own mother (your Grandma Kristie), who passed away several years before you were born. I know she was present there with me the entire time, cheering me on and nudging me closer to meeting YOU! At some point, Amber told me I should get out of the tub and try to go to the bathroom. I was able to get out of the tub and do this, and I’m not sure, but she felt that this was when my water broke as she heard a big “sploosh” after I had gone. I also know that this was when I started to push little pushes, even though I hadn’t been told to do so. I just felt that that’s what my body wanted me to do. I can vaguely remember speaking with Rachel, the midwife on-call, but I don’t really recall the details of our conversation. After this, Daddy and Amber made it pretty clear that we needed to get to the birth center as soon as we could. I was still in a robe after my bath, with hair wet and no clothes on. As they struggled to help me get dressed between contractions, which now must’ve been coming between 2-3 minutes apart, we packed up the rest of our birth supplies and made our way down the hallway to the elevator.

The walk to the elevator to the underground garage seemed like the longest trek of my life and we had to have been stopping every ten-fifteen feet or so for me to lean against the wall in an effort to get through the next contraction. We finally made it to the car and I remember dreading getting in as I knew the ride over there was not going to be an easy one. We were on our way in a matter of minutes, with Amber following us in her car. 

Again, I was drawn inward and for most of the ride to the birth center, all I could do was focus on the digital clock in our dashboard and remind myself that each contraction was only one minute, 60 seconds of discomfort, but 60 seconds closer to seeing your face. Each pothole, each bump on the road or brick-paved street in historic St. Paul felt like a knife being twisted in my lower back. I hoped that when I arrived at the birth center, I could ask for those sterile water injections the midwives had talked about in our prenatal appointments. I was desperate for some relief. I should also add that I was continuing to push at the conclusion of each contraction at this point... it just felt like the right thing to 

When we arrived at the birth center and made our way inside to the birthing suite, the large birth tub/bath had already been drawn, and there was dim lighting and some LED candles burning... I think. I remember marching into the room and asking Rachel, “Ok, what now? Just tell me what to do- I need a plan.” I inquired about the water injections and some comfort for the back labor, to which she replied, “Let’s get you on the bed and see how far you’re dilated and we’ll go from there.”

That’s all I needed to hear, as I quickly made my way to the bed as if to say, “Ok-
let’s DO this!” She examined my cervix and stated, “Mara, the quickest solution to eliminating your back pain is just to have your baby. You are fully dilated to a 10 [cm], so let’s just get you in the tub!” That was probably the fastest I’d moved the whole labor, practically tearing off my clothes to get into the water. 

The back pain was so intense at this point, but it did serve as my motivation to push and ride the wave of each contraction. My whole birthing team (Rachel, Brittany the RN, Amber and Daddy) was so supportive and encouraging. I can still hear their voices: “Mara, you’re SO strong! You can do this! You’re almost there!” Rachel did a great job of telling me when to push and when to rest/slow down; Amber was reminding me to “bear down” and with each push, my low moans and breathing got louder and louder. I was switching positions too, from hands and knees to reclining back. Rachel would use her mirror and flashlight in the water to check the progress and also checking your heart rate from time to time.

At some point, I moved into the recline position and knew I would stay there until you came out. It wasn’t very many more contractions and pushes before you crowned and your little head was ready to pop out. We were so close to meeting you!! I pushed through another couple of contractions and the strongest burning sensation I’d ever felt down there (now I know why they call it the Ring of Fire!). Finally, your head came out and Rachel said I probably only needed to push once or twice more before your shoulders and the rest of you emerged. Those last few pushes and contractions were a blur, as I was so focused on finally meeting our son or daughter! 

Your Daddy helped to catch you underwater when you were fully born at 8:26 p.m. on Friday, March 4th. Daddy and Rachel placed you on my chest and I immediately started crying tears of joy when I looked into your bright eyes. I felt the warmth of your body against my heart and I knew I was instantly addicted to you. I had loved you all along, before you were conceived and during pregnancy, but now seeing you, my love for you had grown deeper and our connection had become stronger. You were so calm when you came out, not even crying as you took your first few breaths of this new world around you. We still didn’t know if you were a boy or a girl, until Rachel suggested I hold you up to get a glimpse. I lifted you off my chest and had to move your umbilical cord out of the way before we could see that you were our little girl, our angelic Harlow Kristianna, named after your Grandma Kristie Ann. It was such a joy to finally meet you!

More Birth Photos

10 Reasons a Birth Center Might Be For You

Photo Credit: Rochelle Matos -  withlove.mn

Photo Credit: Rochelle Matos - withlove.mn

If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, you may be considering your options for birth. While the majority of babies in the US are born in hospitals, there’s another option available for women who wish to birth in a homelike setting but desire many of the resources and safeguards of a hospital. This option is called a birth center. Birth centers are designed for healthy women seeking a natural birth experience under the care of midwives instead of obstetricians. Midwives embrace the idea that birth is a natural and normal process and should be approached under the wellness model of pregnancy and birth. Birth centers are able to provide routine, woman-centered care that focuses on the natural, physiological process of birth and seeks to minimize unnecessary interventions. While birth centers are not equipped for emergency medical procedures like C-sections or other serious complications, they are typically located in close proximity to a partnering hospital for quick transfers when necessary. If you are hoping for a natural birth experience in a non-medical environment yet under the care of licensed midwifery professionals, a birth center may be for you. Here are 10 reasons you should consider delivering at a birth center.

  1. You’re hoping for a natural, intervention free birth: At birth centers, pregnancy and childbirth are seen as natural and normal events. Midwives seek to empower and support women in doing what their bodies were created to do without unnecessary intervention. According to the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, the rate of C-sections for low risk births is only 6 percent at birth centers in comparison with 27 percent of low risk births in a hospital setting.
  2. You want to have a midwife instead of a doctor: Midwives are uniquely positioned to provide personalized care to mothers during pregnancy and birth that not only focuses on physical health, but also emotional, spiritual and mental wellbeing. Midwives are trained professionals that support women in having optimal pregnancies and birth experiences with minimal medical intervention. Births that are attended by midwives tend to have lower rates of C-sections, episiotomies and perineal trauma.
  3. You believe hospitals are for sick people: If you are hoping to bring your baby into the world in a more homelike environment but you want the expertise and resources of skilled professionals, a birth center may be for you. In many countries around the world birth is not seen as a medical event at all but a natural, normal experience in life. Birth centers offer many of the safeguards and equipment of a hospital without the medical environment.
  4. You want to have a water birth: Though some hospitals do offer the option of a birthing tub, it is more commonly available at birth centers. Laboring and delivering in water has many benefits from pain relief, improved cervical dilation and a soothing transition for baby from womb to world.
  5. You want to be able to eat and drink during labor: While most hospitals will restrict your intake during labor due to the risk of needing general anesthesia for a C-section, most birth centers encourage you to nourish yourself as needed to keep up your energy and stamina.
  6. You want to save money: While you should check your insurance policy to confirm benefits and birth center coverage, delivering at a birth center is typically less expensive than delivering at a hospital. Reasons for the difference in cost include a shorter length of stay and fewer interventions among other variables. Typically, your out-of-pocket cost at a birth center will be about a third less than that of a hospital birth. 
  7. You do not want to have continuous fetal monitoring: While your midwife will likely intermittently monitor your baby, you will not be hooked up to a fetal monitor for the entirety of your labor like you may be at a hospital. This enables you to move about freely throughout your labor to the positions that offer the most relief and comfort. You also will not have to worry about any invasive internal monitoring or unnecessary cervical checks. 
  8. You don’t want to deliver on your back: Midwives are typically more flexible in encouraging the mother to birth and labor in whatever position her body tells her she should. Laboring and delivering on your back has been found to be one of the least conducive positions to helping baby move naturally through the birth canal. 
  9. You don’t want to feel rushed: In a birth center you will be encouraged and supported in laboring as long as your body needs. Rather than hastening the labor process with interventions, midwives embrace the natural normal process of childbirth in which you place trust in your body to know what it needs to do and at what pace.
  10. You want your family (or friends) involved: While a hospital may limit the number of individuals allowed in the room for your birth, at a birth center you will be welcome to have whomever you feel you need to support you in your birth experience. Birth centers will often involve the family during prenatal appointments and during labor realizing that the birth of a new baby is a family experience to be shared.

If you are a healthy woman experiencing a normal pregnancy and feel that a birth center may be more in line with your hopes and plans for natural birth, contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are here to support and empower you from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond.

 
 

When Your Birth Doesn’t Go As Planned

Woman Contemplating Feelings

Whether you had hoped for a home or birth center delivery and needed to transfer to the hospital, or had prepared for a natural birth and ended up having a C-section, births that do not go according to plan can be disappointing. Many mothers spend their pregnancies preparing for and creating a detailed birth plan in the hopes of having the experience they’ve always envisioned for themselves and their baby. Despite the best laid plans, birthing classes, and providers, sometimes our bodies and our babies have other plans in mind. When your birth doesn’t go as planned, it’s not uncommon to experience some negative emotions along with the excitement you’re feeling about the new baby. Many women who have experienced some form  of birth trauma  or unexpected intervention report feeling disappointed, angry, guilty, frustrated, indifferent and sometimes even resentful towards their baby or their body. These feelings usually follow birth experiences that felt out of their control, traumatic or unexpected such as having an episiotomy or emergency C-section. If your birth experience has left you feeling as though your body failed to do what you had hoped it would do, here are some ways to cope with those negative emotions and acknowledge the strength and courage in your journey.

Writing Birth Story
  1. Acknowledge your feelings: This can be difficult to do when everyone is expecting you to be overjoyed by the arrival of your new baby. However, if you are experiencing disappointment, sadness, guilt or anger about the way your delivery unfolded, it’s important to take the time to allow yourself to experience those feelings without judgment. Giving birth may be the single most important event in your life thus far and it is okay to feel sadness about any part of the labor or delivery that was traumatic or upsetting to you. If you try to push away your negative feelings about the experience, they will likely resurface at a later date as unresolved issues. 
  2. Take steps to process your grief: It is perfectly normal to experience grief following a traumatic or upsetting birth experience. It is important to allow yourself to experience the grief so that you can move forward feeling as though you have processed your feelings. Talking to your midwife or doctor and asking questions so that you can better understand and process your experience is one way to work through what you may be feeling. Two cathartic ways to process grief following birth are: telling your birth story to a trusted friend or family member or writing down your birth story. Writing or telling a detailed account of your experience can help you process your feelings of disappointment or guilt and also help you identify  all of the moments (there are so many!) of great courage and strength.
  3. Surround yourself with loving and supportive people: Limit visitors in the early weeks following your delivery to people who can be sensitive to your feelings and your experience. While not intending to be unsupportive, people may make comments suggesting that the only thing that is important is that you have a healthy baby. You can gently remind them that the experience was important to you and you are not ready to discuss it further at this time. You can also ask your partner to help play gatekeeper in the early days staving off unnecessary visitors and unsavory comments.
  4. Acknowledge the strength and courage in your story: Even if your birth didn’t end the way you had hoped, do your best to remember the amazing work that your body did. Whether you labored for 18 hours before ultimately having a C-section, endured hours of natural labor before electing to have an epidural, or had to undergo any number of interventions that were frightening or upsetting to you, your body has done an amazing thing. There is also an incredible amount of strength and courage in having to let go of your birth plan and have a birth experience that feels completely out of your control. Whatever your story is, whatever the intervention or unplanned turn your birth took, your body has done a miraculous thing.
  5. Ask for help: Whether you would like extra support from your partner, your provider, a friend to listen or to seek out a new moms’ group in your area, make the effort to reach out for help and comfort. The postpartum period, despite the awe and excitement of a newborn, can be an isolating and overwhelming experience. Adding grief from your birth experience to this mix may be too much to handle on your own. If at any point your grief begins to impact your ability to function throughout the day or seems to overwhelm the joy you have for your new baby, see your doctor or a therapist for an assessment for Postpartum Depression. Although the baby blues are a normal experience in the weeks following delivery, moms who have experienced a traumatic birth experience are more likely to develop Postpartum Depression. Ask for help right away if you feel like you might be experiencing Postpartum Depression. Click here to learn more about Postpartum Depression

If you’ve experienced a traumatic or disappointing birth experience, don’t suffer in silence. There are many women out there whose birth plans have not gone according to plan and who are left feeling guilty, angry and even depressed. There is no shame in a birth that does not go as planned and no shame in grieving the experience you did not have. Remember that you gave it your all and that is enough; that you are just as strong, powerful and amazing as all of the other mamas before you. At Health Foundations, we are here to support you throughout your pregnancy, delivery and postpartum period, regardless of whether or not your delivery took place with us, in the hospital or in the operating room. We are here for you. Contact Health Foundations to schedule a free consultation with a midwife or to find support.

 

Eight Ways to Avoid Unnecessary Interventions During Labor

Newborn with Mom

Avoiding unnecessary medical intervention is one of the most important factors in having a naturalbirth. Unfortunately, in many US hospitals, interventions are common and all too often hastily decided upon. Consequently, the rate of C-sections nationally is about 32.7 percent. The term “cascade of interventions,” refers to the domino effect of one intervention, leading to another which leads to another, resulting in a series of unplanned and undesired repercussions. If you are hoping to have a natural birth experience, knowing what you can do to reduce your chances of unnecessary interventions is important. Here are 8 ways you can increase your odds of achieving your desired natural birth experience by avoiding unnecessary birthing interventions.

  1. Create a birth plan: Creating a written copy of your birth plan will help ensure that everyone on your birthing team knows and respects your wishes and expectations for your birth experience. Although it is important to remain flexible should complications arise, a birth plan is a great way to familiarize your care providers and any participating family members or friends with specific preferences you have including avoiding unnecessary medical interventions.
  2. Use a midwife: Because of the level of specialized care, support and priority placed on natural birthing, using a midwife can increase your chances of having a natural birth by up to 95 percent. Your midwife will help prepare you physically and mentally for an unmedicated childbirth, reducing your anxiety and likely lessening the pain you will experience.
  3. Take birthing classes: Choose classes that focus on natural birth techniques to help equip you with the tools you will need to achieve an intervention free, natural birth experience.
  4. Choose a care provider and birth setting that encourage natural birth: In addition to using a midwife, choosing to birth at a birth center with a low rate of interventions versus a hospital can be a wise decision if you are hoping to have a natural birth. Hospitals often place time limitations on labor and may pressure you to opt for interventions that hasten the process if it has been drawn out too long. A birth center that is supportive of natural birth is more likely to let you labor as long as you and baby need.
  5. Hire a doula: A doula provides physical, emotional, and educational support for the mother during pregnancy and the birthing process. Research shows that having a doula assist you in your birth can reduce your chances of electing to have an epidural by up to 60 percent and cut your chances of having a C-section in half. To learn more about the many benefits of hiring a doula for both mom and baby, check out this article.
  6. Research natural alternatives for pain control: Techniques such as self-hypnosis, deep breathing, guided imagery, yoga and massage can offer non-invasive alternatives to help lessen the pain and keep you calm and relaxed during labor. Practicing these techniques during pregnancy can help prepare you for the big day once it arrives.
  7. Practice perineal massage: Utilizing massage to stretch the area around the vagina during pregnancy can help prepare you for childbirth and potentially shorten the labor process and accelerate your delivery. Begin your perineal massages after week 34 of pregnancy using warm olive oil as a lubricant and relaxing music to calm you. Having your partner help if you are comfortable with it is a great way to get them involved in birth preparation. 
  8. Know your rights: You may find yourself feeling pressured in the heat of the moment when a medical intervention is suggested during labor. Educating yourself beforehand and knowing that you have the right to accept or refuse any procedure, test, medication or treatment will help empower you to make the decisions that are best for you, even under pressure.

Having a natural and normal birth is a noble and attainable goal. Preparation during pregnancy can only help your chances of achieving your desired birth plan. At Health Foundations, we value the natural and miraculous nature of birth and seek to empower women to realize the awesome abilities of their bodies without intervention. To learn more about how Health Foundations can support you in your goal of natural birth, contact us for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We are committed to supporting you throughout your pregnancy, birth and beyond.