With so little natural birth education passed along to mothers-to-be, it's no wonder that many women aren't confident in their body’s innate ability to birth naturally without narcotics. This is why medical births are the new norm. While pregnancy is generally seen in a positive light, there's a general sense of negativity that surrounds the labor experience. There are very few positive examples of natural, drug-free childbirths.
The truth is that with the right preparation one can achieve a successful drug-free childbirth. The following methods have been shown to naturally reduce labor pain and help women to birth without interferences.
1. Surround yourself with a positive concept of birth.
It's not surprising that many women have such a negative outlook regarding childbirth and are fearful of birthing the way it was originally intended. Hollywood has dramatized the event with depictions of women screaming at their husbands while begging the doctors to eliminate the pain.
One of the best things an expecting mother can do is create her own perception of the birthing experience by avoiding any and all negativity. Labor doesn't need to be a dreadful experience. In fact, many women who take a proactive role in their labor and try to make it enjoyable have had very positive experiences. Seek out these women and listen to their empowering birth stories.
2. Plan and visualize.
Many mothers feel like patients rather than participants in their labor. By having a strong understanding of birth, a woman can take an active role in making the right decisions. Imagery and visualization are powerful tools for women to practice prior to labor. Envisioning a successful labor can help build confidence in the woman’s ability to birth naturally without medical interventions. Practicing imagery and visualization towards the end of your pregnancy and during labor helps to condition the mind and reduce stress and anxiety.
3. Increase knowledge and trust your intuition.
Read books, attend classes and become as up to date as you can on birth in general. By learning as much as you can about the process and how the body works, you can be inspired to let nature run its course while trusting in the wondrous ability of the human body to do its job. Birthing is a very natural experience and was carried out without medical interventions for millions of years before women were made to believe that medical involvements are a better alternative than letting the body act naturally. By educating yourself on the natural progression of labor, you're reinforcing confidence in the body’s innate power.
4. Cultivate the mind-body spirit connection
Meditation helps create melatonin, which is released into the bloodstream during stressful times. It also produces endorphins that have very powerful pain-relieving effects, similar to morphine. The more dedicated the woman is to her prenatal meditation, the less afraid she'll be of preconceived pain prior to the onset of labor. This will allow the woman to be less disturbed by any actual pain felt, which creates feelings of joy. Frequent practice results in higher levels of endorphins during labor. Regular practice of yoga and meditation is essential to prepare the mind and body for labor.
Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise during pregnancy because it combines gentle stretching, relaxation and breathing techniques. It builds stamina, relaxes the pelvis and helps the baby transition into an optimal birthing position. The relaxation response can significantly improve your overall health and well-being. Relaxation helps create endorphins, which help decrease pain during labor, whereas fear causes the release of stress hormones and catecholamine, which can increase pain and duration of labor.
These techniques prevent and treat postpartum depression and anxiety by allowing the mother some time to nurture herself. With so many physical and hormonal changes going on during this time, it's beneficial for the mother to take some time to decompress and build awareness with her changing body to adapt to each new stage of motherhood. Making the effort to practice regularly, becoming educated as much as possible and keeping a positive attitude are essential to empower the mother-to-be and ensure she can birth with freedom and joy.
Just as one would prepare for a marathon, the same preparation should apply to the biggest life-changing event that a woman will experience. In addition to helping make pregnancy and labor easier, these modalities also help the postpartum body recover quicker.