My good friend is going to be giving birth any day now and is planning a natural birth in a hospital. I've been thinking about her lots and can't wait to hear how everything goes. I thought I'd jot down a quick list of tips she can use as she goes into this transformative experience. In my experience, being in a hospital makes it more difficult to have a natural birth (but by no means impossible - I know many women who have labored with pitocin and have gone on to give birth without pain medication) simply because the option for medication is there...that is why I thought I'd give these tips.
1. Remember everything you've studied and learned. Remember to trust your body and the process. Remember that the pain will not last and that it will be over before you know it. While you're laboring and it is getting intense, tell yourself you can do anything for one minute. Count to 10 as you have a contraction and tell yourself you can get to 10. Remember to breathe...slow down your breathing to give your body oxygen - feel the energy rush back into you as you become grounded again.
2. When you feel like giving up or when you feel like the pain is so intense that you want to die (hah!), it'll be over right after. Everyone told me this and I had no comprehension of what they meant until I experienced it myself...I literally could not bear it any longer and in that moment, it was over. And then the joy was indescribable.
3. Make sure you have support - either your partner, mother, doula, friend, etc. Make sure they will stand by you and help you get through it while reminding you of the type of birth you desire. Make sure they'll stand up for you and be your voice with the nurses and doctor.
4. Enjoy the process. Let go of the fears and savor these moments. Think positive thoughts. I love this quote by Grantly Dick-Read, "Many women have described their experiences of childbirth as being associated with a spiritual uplifting, the power of which they have never previously been aware...To such a woman childbirth is a monument of joy within her memory. She turns to it in thought to seek again an ecstasy which passed too soon." Incredibly, after you give birth, you may feel too that it passed to soon. Savor it.
5. Move around! Change positions. Do not stay flat on your back in the bed. Be upright! It will move your baby down and your pain will be more manageable.
6. Overall, just be present. Embrace the laboring, the pushing, the delivering. Don't let yourself get down by thoughts of "How much longer is this going to take?" Those thoughts will come, but push them away and fill it with a positive thought instead. Tell yourself it's a beautiful day for your baby's birth and practice patience.
Here's all of the warm wishes and luck in the world to my beautiful friend!