The thing about pregnancy and delivery is that a lot of times, all of your best-laid plans can go out the window. It’s true! I had planned for an unmedicated birth for my first baby, but then a few hours into labor, I quickly chose an epidural. For our second, I was able to give birth without pain meds and it was my dream birth.
Despite most of my birth plans going according to plan, I knew that if at any point I felt my babies were in danger, I would have done away with my plans and prioritized their health and safety. But…if you are committed to having a vaginal childbirth and are opposed to a C-section, here are some things you can do to get yourself ready.
- Midwives are the best! Unless you are considered high-risk (if you have high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, are carrying multiples, etc.) I highly suggest getting a midwife as your medical provider. Here is why: time and time again, the only time my pregnancies made me anxious, was when I was dealing with doctors. Doctors presented all of the worst-case scenarios and 100 percent of the time, I was fine. Here is an example: at my mid-point ultrasound where they checked the baby’s vital organs and everything else, they noticed he was on the small side. This was our second baby and our first was small too (he weighed 6.6 lbs when born.) They were worried about his size but failed to compare with ultrasounds of my other son (which they had records of) and instead had me come back a month later for another ultrasound. When I discussed the ultrasound with my midwives and amazing nurse practitioner, both were unphased. They told me my pregnancy was going smashingly well and that I likely would deliver a smaller baby – because that’s what I did before. They were right. When I went back for the other ultrasound all issues were resolved – baby was gaining weight and whatever anxiety they felt before, dissipated. I’ve had many of my older mam friends share with me similar stories: that doctors put the fear of God into them, while other medical professionals were much more composed. It really makes a difference!
- Keep your hips open! One exercise to continuously do throughout pregnancy to keep your hips open is squatting. In fact, squatting is an optimal birthing position for that reason. I exercised throughout my first pregnancy, and did a lot of prenatal yoga with my second pregnancy. I was told that because of this, I was able to deliver vaginally. Another less arduous way to keep your hips open: walk a ton. I did so with my first pregnancy which also helped me temper my pregnancy anxiety.
- Doulas are a must! I had a doula for my first pregnancy and delivery experience and I’m so glad I did. Midwives are focused on ensuring the baby has a healthy delivery and you’ll need someone in your corner when the hard part of delivering a baby starts. Doulas will help you through the pain, coach you through contractions, and help quell your partner’s anxiety (that is literally why I got a doula). I also appreciated the fact that doulas recognize the complete normalcy of vaginal birth since C-sections can easily become the default. I dubbed my doula my personal trainer because she told me how and when to push during the two-hour session that preceded the birth of my first baby. Highly recommend.
- Know that your body is capable of vaginal childbirth! For both of my pregnancies I was not induced. I also was 40 and over for both of my pregnancies and deliveries and if I had listened to all the naysayers (you can’t give birth naturally let alone vaginally when you are over 30, you will probably have to have a C-section because of your age…) I would never have had the births I was blessed with having. It is completely normal, no matter your age, to have a vaginal childbirth. C-sections are not the only way to have a baby! And even if you are an older mother – I was 40 and 42 respectively, when I gave birth – you can have a vaginal childbirth. In fact: one of my very dear older mama friends gave birth a few months ago to her first baby. She was unmedicated, not induced and she delivered her vaginally!