Pregnancy and Birth

Checklist for a Natural or Unmedicated Childbirth, at Any Hospital

Having had two natural childbirths, one at a hospital with an almost 50% C-section rate, and the other at a more “hippie” hospital, I can say that the method for both is the same: know what it is that you want from your birth, and then set up your environment in such a way as to encourage that outcome.

Because it turns out that as long as you know what you want, everything else will fall into place. Nurses will line up to watch us – true goddesses – at work, doctors will scurry to make our birth amazing, and in the end, we will bring forth a little, beautiful, soul.

So here’s what you need to make that a reality:

1. A supportive practice.

Whether you elect to go with a midwife or an OBGYN, your care provider needs to be 100% on “Team You” – totally on board with your vision of the birth.  You will likely ask your care provider questions about interventions or about the length of time they will allow you to go past your water breaking or past your due date.  If, in response to your questions, they warn you with comments like “You know, not everything goes according to plan at birth,” or, worse, “Well, we’ll see how things go,” then run for the hills. Find a new care provider, even if it’s your 36th week.

You’ve done your research on interventions.  You know what is best for you and baby.  So stand up for that baby and take charge – you pay them, after all.

2. A doula or support person, preferably one you have paid.

Moms, sisters, and friends are all great to have at the birth, but it is also helpful to have that person to whom you feel comfortable giving direction. It’s a lot harder to ask mom “can you massage my vulva?” than someone you’ve paid money to. Most likely.

3. The bag of tricks, which can include:

  1. Birthing ball
  2. Home remedies. For everything. Being large means you don’t always feel your best and going outside is a whole thing. So having something like home remedies for toothache while pregnant can be a lifesaver if you don’t want to spend an hour in your dentists reception room feeling bloated and uncomfortable.
  3. Relaxing, meditative music
  4. Scented oils
  5. Your own favorite things like a pillow, charm, or other items
  6. Massage tools
  7. Some doulas will have a birthing rope. (Hey, you can at least throw it in there. Can’t hurt!)

4. Your vision of your dream birth, either in your head or, ideally, on paper.

If you haven’t already done so, take some time to visualize and outline your dream birth. And then, like a star football player before a big game, try to visualize this beautiful birth every day. If you meditate, include it at the end of a meditation. If you pray, offer your prayers about your birth to God or the universe.

5. Your written birth plan, photocopied and printed.

It’s helpful if your support team (partner, family, doula, care provider, TMZ) already has a copy of this birth plan. Granted, while no one will actually have it on hand or remember most of it except you (because that’s how birth works), at least you can feel more comfortable having it with you. It’s also possible to post it on the door of the delivery room so nurses can see it.  (But if you follow step #7, then you won’t have time for this, nor will you care.)

6. A supportive partner who had it repeatedly drilled into his head has been coached as to what your dream birth looks like in terms of specifics: no bright lights, providers are not to ask about pain control options, baby placed immediately onto mother before cleaning, etc.

7. A willingness to labor at home as long as possible.  Let me repeat that:  a willingness to labor at home as long as possible.

Your odds of having a baby in the car are much, much smaller than your odds of getting to the hospital at 2 centimeters dilated and being told that you’re “not progressing fast enough,” and that they would like to start you on Pitocin. It’s much better to get to the hospital late in the game. Then, not a single nurse will ask whether you want an epidural – they’ll be rushing to get that baby born.

There will be pain.  But you’ve prepared for this with birthing classes and sound training, right?  If you get to the point where you can’t take the pain anymore, then you are already past the worst of it (and, if you are not already on the way to the hospital…um, get in the car.  Like.  Now.)

8. Absolute, utter confidence that you can do this.

Millions of women have had what we term “natural” births for thousands of years, and many continue to do so today, both in the Western world and in less developed areas. You are built to give birth, and that baby – no matter what size – was grown to come from your body, with no medicinal assistance.

You can do this!

Erin Newman[About the author: Erin is a freelance blogger and writer for Her journey to holistic health started with the birth process, and she’ll try almost anything in the pursuit of better health, from acupuncture to drum circles. Today you can find her cooking meals that her children and husband complain about (like zucchini noodles with sardines), while still living in the real world and hiding her addiction to chocolate-covered peanuts.]

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