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How to have an enjoyable (natural) birth. Post your stories, tips, techniques and resources here.

(16 Posts)
lucindapie Mon 22-Aug-11 09:45:47

I have just been reading the thread about the dilemma about whether or not to tell a newly pregnant friend about how terrible childbirth is and it made me feel really sad. I'm 9 months pregnant, and haven't given birth before, but I have read so much information and heard so many stories from friends and relatives about those who actually did not have painful births in some cases they were 100% pain free.
As a first time birther I have tried to read and prepare as much as I can for my birth as I know that sometimes things go wrong, and I want to be educated as much as possible in how to prevent myself from having a horrible painful birth, an actually have a birth that is the most amazing and wonderful experience of my life. I'm studying hypnosis for childbirth (Hypnobabies) and really feel confident that I will enjoy my birth. Obviously I haven't actually given birth yet, so I can't prove this will happen!
However loads of you have, so if there's anything that helped you enjoy your birth whether it be, relaxation techniques, massage, music, an amazing book you have read, podcasts or websites that have helped you prepare, or any tips or knowledge you'd like to share, then please post them here, so that rather than debate whether or not we should 'tell the truth' about how horrible birth is, we can learn and share, how to make birth not horrible but absolutely amazing. That seems much more positive to me.

For starters here are a few web resources, and books that really helped me.

Business of being Born - Rikki Lake Documentary about home birth vs hospital birth. Available on YOutube

Davinia McCall speaks about her top tips for giving birth (amazing birth stories from those who have used hypnobabies)

Orgasmic Birth - Debra Bonero - not just about how women have had orgasms while gtiving birth but filled with info about how to get the natural hormone cocktail flowing in birth, with endorphins that provide pain relief 20 times stronger than valium!
Fearless Childbirth - By Grantly Dick Read - classic text about how important relaxation is to not feeling pain in childbirth.
Painless Childbirth - by Giudiitta Tornetta - how hypnosis can help you achieve a painless birth
Spiritual Midwifery -- by Ina May Gaskin, she calls contractions, 'rushes' -- all about eradicating fear and pain, and being on a natural high!

I found loads more info, that I can share later if people are interested, and I'm looking forward to hearing about all your experiences etc!

Cyclebump Mon 22-Aug-11 09:53:49

I won't lie, labour was painful but I managed with gas and air, which I never thought I'd do. I found the key was not to plan too much, I didn't read any of the books I just researched the pain relief options available and briefed my birth partners on the things I wanted them to do and the things I really didn't want so they could back me up confidently if I was 'out of it'. I decided I would take whatever I needed to take.

While it hurt a lot I look back on my son's birth in April with nothing but joy. The birth itself was an amazing rush of relief after the intense pressure of pushing and as soon as he was out the pain was gone and even the stitching was fine because I just wanted to see the baby.

I tell all my pregnant friends accurate details of my birth because I found it really positive. Hope that helps.

b00kw0rm Mon 22-Aug-11 09:59:36

Top tips:
1. If you feel hungry, then eat! I didn't with DD (DC1) as I was 8cm dilated and figured it'd all be over soon, but took another 8 hours so I should have listened to my body- I obviously needed the energy as I felt exhausted pushing.
2. The best advice I had for birth of DC2 was from my pregnancy yoga teacher who told me to try going to the toilet every hour... even if you don't need to go, it's still good just to get up and move.

When pregnant with DC1, I heard so many horror stories that I think it's really good to focus on the positive tips for what you can actually do to make a difference.

Good luck!

Bumpsadaisie Mon 22-Aug-11 12:15:00


I think the best tip for a first timer is to go with the flow, however your birth turns out to be, and don't have particular expectations that it is going to be any particular way. Of course you can have preferences, and try certain techniques/approaches like hypobirthing - these can only be helpful.

You can have a birth with a good deal of intervention which is very painful at times and still come out of it feeling on a high and very positive. I had induction, epidural, episiotomy and forceps with DD, who was back to back and got a bit stuck, and I was exhausted after 37 hours of labour. It wasn't the home birth I had planned, and it was very painful on the syntocin drip for a few hours without pain relief prior to the epidural, but I still look back on it as a thrilling and happy experience and I was just very pleased to avoid a CX.

DC2 due soon and I am hoping to have him/her in the pool at the local birthing centre. However I'm not setting my heart on it and I think the best way to have a good experience is to be as open minded as possible, because this keeps you calm and relaxed. If you are panicking that it MUST be a certain way, that is a sure fire way to slow things down and make things more difficult. And if it doesn't turn out as you had thought it would, that's OK! Accepting you can't completely control it to get the "ideal" labour and birth will help you, I think and probably make it more likely that it will all happen as you would wish!

A friend of mine has just had her first and ended up with an experience very similar to mine with DD - she was very disappointed and like she had "let herself down" because she had done hypobirthing etc and thought she would have a waterbirth etc and it all panned out very differently. I felt very sad for her - feeling down when actually she had given birth to her beautiful daughter, which is an amazing achievement however it happens.

Best of luck with your birth - you can't have long to go now before you meet your gorgeous baby!

lucindapie Mon 22-Aug-11 12:53:26

great tips thanks! I will definetly remember to eat while in labour even if I don't feel like it, I've read a few birth stories in which the woman didn't feel like eating, and ended up having c-sections, because they were exhausted and lacking energy from a long birth.
BTW did anyone manage to sleep at all during their births i.e between contractions? I do love my sleep and can't imagine going 24 hours without it!
Bumpsadaisie, that's great advice, I am probably a bit idealistic about what is going to happen during my birth and have to remind myself that anything can happen, and it isn't a failure if I don't end up having the birth of my dreams. After all what really matters is the end product the baby.

spudulika Mon 22-Aug-11 13:36:17

My top tip: stay away from the hospital unless there is a clear medical reason for you and your baby to be there.

Just walking through the door seems to double the likelihood of you having problems in labour.

Oh, and borrow the money to pay for an independent midwife, even if it means you can't have a holiday for the next five years.

And if you can't afford an IM then get an experienced doula.

NHS staffing policies and the medical protocols of many CLU's make for an environment which is positively HOSTILE towards normal birth, whatever the hospital brochure might say.

Matronalia Mon 22-Aug-11 14:37:19

Birth Reborn by M. Odent is an excellent book.

Relax your jaw during contractions, the more relaxed you are the less painful contractions are. I practiced completely relaxing my body throughout pregnancy but apparently the jaw is key, if you find it is clenched, relax it. I did one practice with my TENs machine before labour and it induced a feeling of euphoria and wellbeing, which I tried to remember and replicate in labour.

My second labour was fantastic and I ended up taking part in some student research on pleasurable birth. If you are interested in reading the thesis (I was given a pdf copy for helping) I can email it to you if you message me your email address.

MainlyMaynie Mon 22-Aug-11 16:01:17

Lucinda, I dozed off in the pool between contractions a few times, with someone holding my head. It didn't really count as proper sleep though, but I was only in labour 6 hours and it was during the day. I think the best way to guarantee sleep seems to be an epidural!

I recommend a home birth, using a pool, natal hypnotherapy (better for me than hypnobirthing as I found their 'offer' of a pain-free birth unrealistic), raspberry leaf tea, burning clary sage, more than one birth partner, tens machine early on.

I didn't want to eat at all, but had isotonic drinks as recommended by my natal hypnotherapy teacher, which kept my energy up.

I didn't find a doula etc. necessary as my local NHS is great.

Also, try and manage your expectations. It is very very likely to hurt, but it can be a manageable pain.

lucindapie Mon 22-Aug-11 16:07:39

spudulika, I have chosen to home birth for the very reasons you explained, When I read about what helps birth i.e being in a dark quiet environment, and that if we are not in a place like this then our birth will stall (as we are mammals we natural like to birth in a quiet place away from people we don't know) the hospital seems like the total opposite! People keep saying I'm brave for having a home birth, but the thought of going somewhere with bright floursecent lights where I would be surrounded by strangers absolutely terrified me! I know birth will be hard work, so I don't need to make things more difficult for myself by being in a hostile environment, I do believe home birth will be safer for me.

Matronalia, that's a good point about relaxing the jaw, I also read about that in spiritual midwifery, the hypnosis cd's I listen to always begin by saying to put your tongue against the roof of your mouth as that helps to relax the jaw. I only hope I will remember all this info during my birth. Perhaps I'll make a list of tips for DH to remind me of.

thanks for the great tips, keep them coming! out of interest what are the best things that partners can do to help? I sometimes hear friends/relatives talking about their partners were a bit hopeless! So it would be great to learn what's the best thing they can do.

Aloha31 Mon 22-Aug-11 16:42:05

I recently had my first baby, and the birth was just wonderful - I managed without any pain relief (even without G&A) until after I started pushing (because I wasn't expecting to be so far along at that stage) and this was an induction! Not the birth I had 'planned' but as I was 16 days late I accepted the induction and thought 'just go with the flow'.

Read my post here, plus other stories to put your mind at rest should you face an unexpected induction/intervention.

Good luck - I would do it all again, it was beautiful!

littlewheel Mon 22-Aug-11 18:02:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

littlewheel Mon 22-Aug-11 18:05:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Mon 22-Aug-11 18:11:34

Three words... Ina. May. Gaskin.

her books helped me to understand what I needed to do to avoid intervention. It worked for me, but if it hadn't I know that it would have been truly necessary intervention iyswim.

In the end I had a very long but very pleasant labour ( i second contractions disappeared for hours when someone knocked at the door). Meconium liquor meant a transfer to hospital but I still had the natural intervention birth I wanted and recovered really quickly.

I am looking forward to dc2's birth ion a few weeks time.

This time I'm also giving Natal Hypnotherapy a go (why not?) and having a will prob be my last so I'm having a go at everything (well...hopefully not everything but you know what I mean!)

ALso I've been reading Birthing from Within which is great for working out your own mental stuff about birth.

Imo labour doesn't start out painful, and the point at which you perceive it as such can vary hugely. Lots of things come in to this but mental outlook is most defiantly one of them.

ohanotherone Mon 22-Aug-11 18:29:04

I had a painfree enjoyable hypnobirth without intervention with my DS although I was induced and monitored continously (6 hours). With DD (11 days ago), it was harder to manage but she was a bit stuck as I had an anterior lip on my cervix so the midwife has to push it out of the way for her head to come down and I had Gas & Air (10 hours). I would say that DD wasn't "enjoyable", I didn't achieve the level of hormones or whatever that made me feel euphoric and amazing like with DS but it wasn't that bad either and actually she is alot more of a contented baby so feel much better in the days following the birth. I left off having the gas and air until I felt that I wasn't coping and it worked really well so no shame in having a bit of gas & air if needed. I had a managed third stage with DS but had a physiological delivery of the placenta with DD so it's swings and roundabouts. I feel that DS just bashed his way out whereas DD was very chilled and wasn't bothered about helping out so I had to do more work so it's not just you but the baby aswell. Both babies weighed well, 8lbs 3oz DS and 8lb 8ozs DD so I don't think size really makes a difference.

Good Luck and I hope you get the birth you want.

GiraffesHaveMoreFun Mon 22-Aug-11 20:29:51

I was advised 'Moo like a cow having a massage'. I did, and it worked. Also loved my TENS machine. Had DD less than 2 hours after arriving at hospital - 1hr45 of this was pushing.

I think it all depends on where the baby is lying - if they're in the right place, it'll probably be quick and less hideous easy. If not, you're more likely to need more time, effort and maybe intervention.

fraktious Mon 22-Aug-11 20:47:00

Stay upright, stay active! If you need to rest be on all fours with a nursing pillow to support you.

In terms of partners I think the most important thing is to brief them well and tell them not to bother you if you don't want to be touched/asked how you're feeling/offered music etc. I wish DH and I had done more wordless communication before labour so he could read me better in labour. As it was he distracted me during contractions wondering whether I was ok before he caught on.

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