In society today, there is a great focus on pain in labour birth, with the assumption that women cannot handle the pain of labour and that women need medical assistance in the form of an epidural or drugs to get through. Many women go to hospital saying, "Well, I'd like a natural birth, but I'll go with the flow". Even with today's technology, birth comes with pain most of the time. Even for those women who are sure they want an epidural, they will still feel some pain as epidurals are given once labour is established, after 4cm dilation. There is usually pain / discomfort to get to that point.
And once women get to 4cm, the last 6 are usually much faster and easier to get through. That's because our bodies are designed to release natural pain relief that helps with the later stages of labour.
The best thing is to learn techniques for managing the sensations of labour, to feel well prepared for labour and birth.
When preparing for a natural birth, most women feel better informed - and therefore relaxed - if they have read a lot about labour and birth. Women who are well-informed about the process of birth, the options available to them and what they can expect, are generally more accepting of the sensations of labour. They are not fearful because they know what to expect and what might happen next.
It's a great idea to read other women's birth stories - positive and negative - to give a balanced view of what happens, what is possible and what you might like for your own labour.
Independent childbirth education is excellent for teaching women in an unbiased way about all the options available to them.
Calmbirth is another fantastic tool for assisting with natural birth.
It's essential to be surrounded with positive messages about birth. Try to limit contact with people who are skeptical and judgmental of your plans for a natural birth. Don't let people discourage you or tell you birth horror stories. If you expect it to be terrible, it will be.
Think about what you want your birth to be like. Make a birth plan, detailing what you'd like for your labour, birth and postnatal period. Show it to your midwife or doctor and get their agreement to help you achieve that birth that's right for you.
Of course, birth plans are always flexible and we understand that sometimes they need to be modified and that's ok. A birth plan is just that - a plan. It's not set in concrete and women can change it at any stage.
Watch DVDs on natural birth. See, hear, read and talk about natural birth. Focus on becoming the healthiest person you can be with great nutrition and a firm exercise program. Women who are physically fit and well-nourished often have easier labours.
Finally, your choice of care provider is also worth considering. Do you know the midwife who will be caring for you in labour? Would you like to know the midwife who'll be caring for you? Women who are well supported in continuity of carer programs such as private midwifery care are far more likely to rate their labour and birth experience as being positive and satisfying.
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