People are always asking us how they can increases their chances of a vaginal birth. It’s actually pretty simple and can be summed up in a few words: DON’T MESS WITH THE PROCESS. Every time you intervene in some way, you are potentially starting a cascade that will lead to more and more interventions. This can be a very slippery slope. We never know which intervention will be the one that will mess up the rest of the natural process. It’s always a gamble. So it is almost always better to just let your body do what it needs to do, when it needs to do it. This way you increase the chances for a vaginal birth.
1. Allow labour to start on it’s own time
By allowing your body and your baby to determine when they are ready to go into labour, you can increase your chances of having a vaginal birth. Our bodies are designed to know when to do this. We even have some non-invasive ways of making sure that babies are safe and healthy inside our bodies. There are definitely situations in which acting is better than waiting but as long as babies are healthy and birth parents are healthy, then it’s full-steam ahead. You can feel good about just waiting for labour to start on it’s own. Your midwife will provide you with the information to know what you can do if your pregnancy goes over a week past your due date.
2. When contractions begin, it’s time to go within
When labour begins, we all get very excited. It’s easy to want to pick up the phone or hop on Facebook to tell those we love that our baby is coming. I would however encourage you to do the opposite. This is a time where we need to start tapping into our more primitive brain. We do that by creating a private, dark cave for ourselves. A lot of people do that by retreating into a candlelight bathroom and closing the door. Others just stay in their dark-light bedroom. Here are some key points to remember when labour is just starting.
- Keep the lights dim (natural light or candlelight are best).
- Make sure you and your feet are toasty warm
- Privacy is incredibly important
- Make sure you are in a place where you feel safe
3. Keep the talking to a minimum
In order for our body to labour successfully, we need to shut-down our “thinking brain” or neocortex. This is the part of our brain that is responsible for our ability to talk and to problem-solve. It is the part of our brain that we use the most on a regular basis. In labour however, it does not serve us well. It must move into the backseat. Our primitive brain is the one that needs to take the driver’s seat while we are in labour. In order to switch over from our thinking brain to our primitive brain, we need keep the talking to a minimum. Having a birth partner and birth attendant that understand this is crucial. The people around you should remain present and supportive and only speak when it is necessary. Every time a labouring person is asked questions, they are taken out of their primal brain and the thinking brain takes over again. This is all fine and dandy once-in-a-while but should not happen on a regular basis.
4. Trust that you can do this
Being well-informed during your pregnancy will hopefully help you to know that your body was designed to be pregnant and birth a baby without anyone needing to “help”. In most circumstances there is no need for drugs or interventions. If you have kept yourself reasonably healthy and have prepared yourself mentally and emotionally for this birthing process, then you are well on your way. Trusting the process of birth is vital. You have to know that you can do this. There will likely be times during the birth process that you will want to give up or doubt your ability to continue, but somewhere deep inside, you will know that you can do it. A big part of our job as midwives is to facilitate and protect normal birth. One way we do that is by spending a good amount of time helping to build your confidence that you can do this.
Ultimately, you are not responsible for the outcome of your birth. It may not work out the way you want despite your best efforts. There are many, many variables that are beyond your control. In our culture, we often try to control too much though. We live in a world where we have access to so much information and technology. It can be difficult to trust that we were made to birth our babies all on our own without any interventions when the conditions are right. But it is really that simple. That is how birth was designed. DON’T MESS WITH THE PROCESS. It works best that way.