Insider tips on how I prepared for labor and water birth like a pro
“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.”Napoleon Hill
I can’t even imagine how very different my birth would have been, if I didn’t do a bit of research on my end to prepare for the event. Birth is instinctual and a natural process, however, just like sex, even though you know what body parts are involved, what actions need to take place, and you have already decide where it will take place, you still need skills and practice to make it the best exprience.
Before I was pregnant I had this notion that giving birth was supposed to be painful, a dangerous ordeal that needed to be managed, controlled, and manipulated. What really happened during my labour and the birth of my beautiful baby girl was the complete opposite. The things I discovered and applied gave me a calm, non-medicated, midwife assisted water birth at a birthing center (not a hospital). No tears on my precious bits! My husband kept me fed and hydrated, empowered me through the surges and helped me relax in between by massaging me. The bathroom was dimly lit with tea lights and smelled of lemongrass, all the while relaxing and meditative soundtracks were playing in the background. My midwife gave us lots of space. It was intimate and magical! Big plus, I got to sleep and shower in my own home three hours after birthing my daughter Atlas out!
I don’t have magic talents, I’m just a regular person, and an intentional parent who can show you how I birthed my baby feeling calm and confident, happy and relaxed. No interventions or medication. You can read the juicy details of the birth story of my first born, Atlas Rose Smith. You might also be interested in what essential things I discovered after my first labor that I implement to prepare for my second pregnancy and birth.
Now, before we get into the steps, the #1 thing you have to always remember is, it’s your body, your baby, your birth and your choice. You’ll find that as you raise your child(ren) that people are quick to offer advice and their opinions. In my experience, that began in pregnancy. People would have opinions on birth but I knew I did not have to do what my mother did or what my peers have done. Their experience sounded quite scary to me. My birth is mine and nobody else’s. I do what I feel is best for me.
Hopefully my story will skyrocket your confidence as a mama, and to meet the unknown of your coming birth. If it does, my work here is done.
Feel good and keep feeling better
Thanks to my mom’s advice, I only watched, listened and absorbed information that made me feel good: made me smile, laugh and or feel empowered. I watched comedies, stand-up, and binged on youtube videos of other mom’s vlogging about their positive pregnancy, birth and beyond experiences. I made sure I avoided watching and listening to the news, ranting, horrific tales, and seeing damaging images and adrenaline inducing drama. Feeling calm, relaxed and joy was my daily goal.
The Positive Birth Company
I eventually discovered hypnobirthing through binge watching positive birth stories on youtube. Emily Norris recorded her birth while doing hypnobirthing. It was a concept I have never heard before. She looked so relaxed throughout the whole process. A completely different scene than what I was exposed to like in the movies.However, Emily’s birth was so serene and it appeared she was in complete control. So how did she do it? What is hypnobirthing? I dug deeper. Which led me to my next discovery: the positive birthing company.
By the time I finished this course I was feeling excited for my labour to begin. This company checked all of my boxes of what I wanted to learn to achieve for my optimal birth experience: to feel prepared to meet my baby feeling calm and confident, relaxed and happy! I had chosen to have a natural birth, since it coincided with my lifestyle of being intentional to surround and absorb myself to things as close to nature and natural as possible. Although I was based in Canada, I was happy to pay for the exchange rate for the digital pack course of 29 Euros at that time. Hypnobirthing, contrary to how it might sound, is a very logical approach to birth. The tools I learned and practiced throughout my pregnancy in their course are highly effective when it came to creating a positive and empowering birth experience for both my birth partner and I. They have recently created an app called Freya which I wish they had when I was preparing for my first baby.
Keeping focused and active
Although my pregnancy took place mostly during the cold weather months, I still made an effort to take a run outside. This is coming from me, a person who hates running and could not even run 2 minutes without crying murder. I kid you not, just for fun, I registered for Wunderlust which is a triathlon that included a 5k run and yoga. I trained for it before I knew I was pregnant. It was like a new habit that just established within me to keep going even after the event was over. I was hooked, it felt so good to breathe in the fresh air and have a sense of accomplishment, that “hey mama, you did this. Pregnant. Booya!” So I ran, and continued attending my yoga classes and strength/balance (kicking kegels up a notch) classes every week. UPDATE: The birthing company now has an app. See how I used it with my waterbirth at home for my second birth.
Caving into cravings and still eat healthy
Food aversions. Check. Cravings. Check. Constantly hungry and thirsty and peeing every few minutes it seems was the norm for me. I knew I had to stay hydrated and keep my energy levels up as I had low blood pressure. In the morning I found it hard to stomach anything and chew. My mom suggested I drink a cup of steamed milk and egg drink. Sort of like a liquid creme brulee sweetened with honey and spiced with ginger or tumeric. It was delicious in addition to the calcium, protein and natural sugars I needed for the morning before I was able to stomach an actual breakfast. Other than food that I had aversions to, I tried my best to eat all the food groups, in small portions and often throughout the day. Sometimes I craved McDonalds fries and cheesecake (oh no!), I ate them but made sure it would be an occasional thing. I knew my body was just craving fat and sugar, so quite often I made myself a protein shake with almond butter. UPDATE: Every pregnancy is different. I craved ice-cream and pastries for my second pregnancy. Fruit smoothies and yogurt was my go-to. I started drinking Kombucha to increase my immunity and gut flora. I also gave in and ate sushi. Vera was born perfectly healthy.
I befriended a water bottle and took it everywhere I went. I found I was constantly thirsty even in the middle of the night. It became a habit where I felt lost when I didn’t have my water bottle around.
Researched tools techniques and options for parenting
The more I knew how I wanted to parent, the more prepared, empowered and excited to apply what I learned with Atlas. I didn’t like the idea about changing poopy diapers for years and discovered Elimination Communication also known as infant hygiene. It encourages a deep connection between you and your baby all the while responding to a baby’s natural hygiene needs, from as early as birth in a non-gentle, non-coercive and gentle way. As Andrea Olsean, author and founder of Go Diaper Free and founder of Tiny Undies (potty gear for elimination communication), also, the woman who I discovered Elimination Communication from states, “we tune into what our babies are born asking for, team up to help them use the toilet while they develop motor skills and long-term memory, and eventually teach them how to do it themselves. It’s a very natural transition to toilet independence. See How my baby uses the toilet before 12 months.