When your 2.5 hour labor forces you to give birth in the car, it can be easy to assume that medical intervention was not an option. While this was entirely true (read my whole birth story here), there was actually a lot of work that went to preparing myself for a natural, med-free birth. I wish I could give you one secret to make your birth just as magical, but it really doesn’t exist. If I had to pick one word to help you achieve a natural birth it would be Mindset. But there are lots of things you can do throughout pregnancy to prepare yourself and your mind for this once in a lifetime experience.
I read a lot this pregnancy (see my 2019 book list here), but two books in particular helped during the birth. The first was Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardake. This book really dived deep in helping me address my own fears of birth and explore what I really wanted and needed to make it the best birth possible. I definitely recommend it for anyone planning a natural birth. The other book was DreamBirth by Catherine Shainberg. Now after I read this and practiced ALL the exercises, I thought it was kind of wacky and not that good of a read. However, when I was in the moment and riding contractions, the skills I learned and practiced with this book came subconsciously. My mind and body took over and just did everything as practiced and taught while reading those pages. I was so thankful for the “exercises” I practiced because my brain went right there and even in the panic of delivering in the car, I was in complete control and working with my baby for a safe delivery.
Hypnobirthing + Meditations
A lot of women recommended hypnobirthing to achieve a natural birth. However, I am cheap and didn’t want to pay for classes or recordings. On my free Hoopla app through the library, I read Hypnobirthing the Original Method by Michelle Leclaire O’Neill. The book was good and insightful, but I really benefitted from the mindfulness recordings on YouTube. I would listen to Creating Comfort Within every night before bed. It helped me get to a happy place and sleep better, but was also training my brain. In the final trimester, I started listening to Birthing from the Inside Out before bed, sometimes alternating with Creating Comfort Within. This specifically designed meditation helped me to envision the perfect birth every night before bed, which means my subconscious was storing this information readily. By preparing my body with good sleep and positive meditations, my mind was trained for a positive-only outcome.
Finally, knowledge is power. With my first kids, especially having them back to back, I just kind of went with the flow. I did not know which parts of medicalized birth were optional or even frowned upon. I did whatever my doctors told me. Again, I read. Especially Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel and The Business of Baby by Jennifer Margulis. The first, just as the title implies, taught me everything to expect with giving birth naturally in the hospital and how my body would respond. The second book showed me more of the money and legal backstory of what goes on in a hospital setting, like how practitioners are compensated for certain procedures or how they may be disciplined for your natural choices against hospital policy. It really opened my eyes to the behind the scenes of operations. In my personal story with Roelyn, especially because I didn’t give birth until 41+5, I was offered induction many times. In fact, we had to sign against medical advice paperwork when I declined induction at 41+1 and walked out of the hospital. I just knew I had to trust my body, because it is actually normal for a baby to come three weeks before or up to two weeks after your due date. I was pretty adamant that I would not be induced until I hit that 42 week mark, but believe me it was not easy and very emotionally draining to be that patient. Another scare tactic used by staff was claiming that after your due date, the chances of having a stillborn go up. This is true, but when you look at number evidence, you will see that before your due date the chance is 1 in 1,000 and after your due date up to 42 weeks, the chance is only 3 in 1,000. With having a healthy pregnancy, and the amount of trust I placed in God, my body and my baby, I knew those few numbers would not affect us.
On another note with knowledge is how amazing a woman’s body operates during pregnancy and childbirth and how the baby responds. This knowledge of the brith process became essential for me because baby came so fast. I knew exactly what was happening with each contraction. I knew when my baby’s head was crowning that it would only be a couple more pushes before the head fully emerged, the shoulders came out, and then the rest of her body. I knew everything that was supposed to happen. So even when I gave birth in my car, I was not frightened because I knew it all happened exactly as it should. I didn’t need staff to tell me that baby was alright; I knew the birth went perfectly.
How My Natural Birth was Different
Now, I’ve given birth three times, twice with epidurals. There is no one right way to give birth, as each woman and even each pregnancy wants and needs different things. With my third, I got the natural birth I had always dreamed of. I can not say the birth was beautiful only because it was natural…maybe it is because it was my last baby, or the fact that I don’t have to go back to work in 6 weeks, or that the gender was a surprise, or the crazy fact and adrenaline rush I got when I delivered in the car. There are lots of factors that make this birth memorable, but I truly believe because my body and my baby, with God watching over us, accomplished this birth together we are forever bonded. I remember giving birth to my first and thinking, why am I not crying? You mean there’s no rainbows and butterflies? There’s no instant bonding with baby? I felt this immediate rush of responsibilities and fears. Even with my second, there were no instant happy feelings. I knew I wanted something different for my final baby. The birth was kind of like we went to war together, or like that time my cross country team won states together. We had gone to our physical limits, our brains overcame fears and worked exactly as they should, and together we achieved this beautiful, magical moment that most people only dream of. After birth, I felt like I was high on some kind of drug (probably just oxytocin), but that high feeling lasted for weeks. And that experience was like the best cross country race I ever had, a feeling of accomplishment and excitedness that will last a lifetime.