Here is how you can maximize your chances:
At Physicians and Midwives we are committed to partnering with you to achieve the optimal birth experience. Many women prefer a vaginal birth over a cesarean section. This information will teach you about the many ways you can increase the likelihood of achieving a vaginal birth.
- Be cared for by a midwife. Obviously you make good choices! Studies have shown that births attended by midwives increase the rate of vaginal birth. Because we are a physician and midwife collaborative practice a midwife will be taking care of you in labor. The midwives will make recommendations regarding activity and comfort measures throughout your pregnancy and birth. We are experts in vaginal deliveries!
- Healthy Weight Management. If you are a normal weight (BMI 10.5-24.9) you should aim to gain 25-35 pounds over your entire pregnancy. If you are overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9), your goal should be to gain no more than 15-20 pounds during your pregnancy. If you are obese (BMI > 30) you should gain no more than 11-20 pounds. It is safe to gain no weight during pregnancy if you are consistently improving upon diet and exercise.
- Exercise! All low risk pregnant women should exercise 5-7 days a week. Exercise helps tone your legs and pelvic muscles making labor easier. Walking, swimming and yoga are great forms of exercise during pregnancy. Labor is very physically demanding. We compare it to running a marathon. Having your body physically prepared helps. Both the Centers for Disease control and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend 150 minutes of moderately intense physical activity each week for all people, including pregnant and postpartum women.
- Childbirth Preparation Classes. Taking a birth class answers many questions for both you and your partner. It can help you feel calm and confident regarding what to expect when labor starts. While talking with family and friends, reading books, or watching DVD’s about birth can help, they are not a substitute for a class about birth.
- Mentally and Emotionally Prepare. Share your fears regarding labor, birth and becoming a mother with us, your family and friends or a therapist. It is also essential to discuss early and frequently with your partner about how you’re feeling about birth and how they can be prepared and support you.
- Honor spontaneous onset of labor. Requesting an induction of labor for a non-medical reason (example- being tired of being pregnant, family coming from out of town, scheduling convenience) greatly increases your risk of having a C-section and is not advisable if you are low risk.
- Use non-medical pain relief until you are in active labor. Active labor begins once you have strong contractions every 2-3 minutes and your cervix is at least 4 centimeters dilated. What is occurring before this time is called early labor and can last from 12-20 hours. This is the time to stay relaxed in the comforts of your home and walk around as much as possible. Walking helps shorten labor and helps your baby get into a good position in you pelvis. Women who get an epidural before they are in active labor can have prolonged labor, need more medications and have babies that get into positions that are not helpful for having a vaginal birth. If you believe your water is broken, please call the midwife. This requires you to come to Labor and Delivery even if you are having irregular or no contractions. If you need antibiotics in labor, discuss this with the on-call midwife.
- Take herbal remedies. Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea during the last weeks of pregnancy helps tone the uterus. We recommend that women begin taking a supplement called Evening Primrose Oil starting at 36 weeks, and every day until they have their baby. The dose is 1500mg 3 times a day orally. This helps women to go into labor naturally, ripen and ready the cervix and avoid an induction of labor.
- Visit websites like www.spinningbabies.com to review optimal fetal positioning. Here you’ll find information about how your posture and activities effect your baby’s position. If your baby is in a good position in the pelvis this helps having a vaginal birth.
Tips for Achieving Natural Childbirth
Natural childbirth is a birth without the use of pain medications, such as narcotics or an epidural. If this is the type of birth you would like to have, everything listed above is essential to your success. We’ve included these helpful tips to increase your chance of success and they are intended for women we consider to be low risk.
- Staying home during a large portion of your labor will help you to have a natural childbirth. At home you can eat and drink like usual and you are free to move around, rest in a comfortable place and take a bath which is very helpful for discomfort. If you believe your water is broken, again, please call the midwife and come to Labor and Delivery.
- Consider hiring a Doula. A doula is an expert in supporting you during childbirth, and many doulas will come to your home before it is time to come to the hospital. They will be there to help with physical, mental and emotional discomforts. Ask us for a list of doulas we know.
- Choose a Childbirth Method. Taking birth classes is important for a mother who wants natural child birth. However, these mothers should also choose a childbirth method such as Hypnobirthing or Lamaze. This gives you tools and skills to have a calm and more comfortable birth and deal with labor discomfort without pain medicine.
- Enjoy alternative therapies. Chiropractic treatments can help your baby to get into a good position for birth. Acupuncture can help you have an easier natural birth and help you to go into labor on your own without the need for an induction.