This is the third part in our series on Preparing for a Natural Birth. If you haven’t yet, you may want to go back and read the other two posts: Mental & Emotional Preparation and Spiritual Preparation.
I have benefited so much from reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth during the last few weeks. It’s amazing to me that after delivering three babies I still could learn SO much about the whole process of natural birth! Reading this book is very helpful if you hope to avoid interventions during your labor and delivery, and if you want practical suggestions for labor positions, breathing techniques, and knowing how to push properly. If you want a natural birth, you’ll need to know how to labor well (hint: not lying flat on your back in bed). I can’t say enough good things about this book!
Raspberry Leaf Tea
Drinking raspberry leaf tea throughout the latter part of one’s pregnancy may help shorten the length of labor, speed up the time spent pushing, and decrease the need for interventions such as forceps, vacuum extraction, and c-section (source). Raspberry leaf tea causes mild uterine contractions (so chat with your doctor/midwife to make sure it’s safe for you… for most women it’s fine) that help strengthen your uterus for labor. I’ve been drinking raspberry leaf tea since my second trimester began. I started with one cup a day, then when my third trimester began I started drinking two cups a day. At 36 weeks I upped that to three cups a day, and I plan on drinking four cups a day at and after 40 weeks if I’m still pregnant. This is the first pregnancy I have been this diligent to drink this much of the tea, so I can’t wait to see if it helps improve the speed of my labor and pushing. I buy it in bulk here. If you have extra tea after the baby comes, it is helpful to drink postpartum to help your uterus contract back to its normal size.
Consuming six dates a day may help labor begin on its own without the need of Pitocin (source). Since I hit the 36 week mark, I’ve been eating six dates a day. It’s a pretty painless (and yummy) thing to do that may really help!
One thing I’ve been doing this time to help prepare for my natural birth is spending lots of time on my hands and knees! My back feels better than it has in any other pregnancy. I do the cow/cat poses several times a day and I feel great. These exercises can also help baby to engage in the pelvis, as your pelvis is at its most open state when you are on all fours. I also do squats and sit in the “butterfly” or “cobbler” position as much as possible. I also love sitting on my exercise ball and moving in small circles to help exercise my hips.
For all of my births, I have written out a birth plan expressing my desires regarding how I want to labor, who I want present in the room, which interventions I’m trying to avoid, how I want to nurse right away, etc. This is a little embarrassing to say, but for my first two births I didn’t pull out my birth plan in the hospital. I think I was scared of looking “demanding” to my nurse! For Jude’s birth I pulled it out first thing and my nurse and midwife walked through the whole thing with me. Awesome! This time, my hospital actually requested I fill out a birth plan when I filled out my preregistration paperwork. Things are changing (in a very good way) in the realm of hospital births. I like this fill-in-the-blank birth plan from Earth Mama Angel Baby. Again, I hold everything very loosely as I go into labor and delivery, knowing that the ultimate goal is to have a healthy baby. Having a birth plan is good way to let all of your medical staff know that you are planning a natural birth so that they can support you in that decision.
Hospital Packing List
I already shared my hospital bag packing list, but I will point out a few things that I think really help. I like to bring my own gown/robe to labor in, as well as my own pillow from home. These things (while not essential) help make me feel more comfortable as I labor! I’m also bringing essential oils this time and my diffuser, as well as a small massage tool. I’m bringing my Bible and my Scripture verses for labor. Lastly, I’m bringing worship music (more details in this post) to listen to while laboring.