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3 Tips That Made Giving Birth Easier

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I was expecting for the first time and didn’t know anything about birth, but I wanted to know everything.

I don’t like to give up control, so I wasn’t going to just walk into the hospital when contractions started and hope for the best. I wanted to know what I could do to make my labor easier and more comfortable, so I decided to attend a 12-week Bradley birthing class.

I knew exactly what my ideal birth scenario was. I knew I needed to be flexible in case things didn’t go according to plan, but I was ready…

My husband and I grabbed a notebook and headed to our first class, having no idea what to expect. Within weeks, I was eating differently, exercising almost every day, and learning how my body would work during labor.

I learned so many things that helped me have an amazing, drug-free birth, and I wish every expecting mom would have the same kind of empowering experience.

Here are 3 tips that made giving birth to my son so much easier:

 

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Don’t Think of Contractions as Pain

What’s the one thing we are all afraid of the most? The pain we know we’ll experience during the birth. We know it’s going to be there, so it’s a matter of how to deal with it.

You can do relaxing exercises every day, practice hypno birth, or hope that a water birth will give you relief, but the one thing that stuck with me and made the biggest difference in how I approached my son’s birth was to not think of contractions as pain.

Instead, I decided to think of them as cramps, which they essentially are. If you take the time to really experience them, you can really feel how every wave of contractions is pushing the baby closer to being born.

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I was already used to very strong menstrual pains since being a teenager, and that’s how the contractions felt, so I wasn’t freaked out by them. I kept riding the waves of the contractions, knowing that they wouldn’t last forever and that no one has ever died from menstrual cramps. This was going to last just a little while, and I was confident I could endure the discomfort.

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Let Your Body Do What It Needs to Do

Instead of fighting the contractions and focusing on how painful they are, try to relax as much as possible and let your body do what it needs to do. If you tighten up because you are afraid of the next contraction, you’ll have a more uncomfortable experience.

Do what you feel like doing to alleviate the discomfort of the contractions: sit on an exercise ball and roll your hips, have your partner massage your back or feet, or take a relaxing shower or bath, for example.

I wanted to be able to do what I felt like doing, so I stayed at home until the last minute. In the hospital, they don’t let you eat or drink anything, but I was free to drink or eat and move around how I wanted, and our son was born 15 minutes after we arrived at the hospital.

Was that the most pleasant ride to the hospital? No, but I got around all the interventions they push on you in the hospital where they often don’t let your body do what it needs to do, which can negatively affect the birth progress.

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Know Your Rights When Giving Birth in the Hospital and Have a Birth Plan

If you are having your baby in the hospital, or even if you plan a birth at a birthing center or at home, know that you have a right to say no to interventions if you end up at the hospital.

Thinking through your options and preferences well in advance of the birth and putting them down in a birth plan is crucial to what kind of birth experience you and your baby will have.

Make sure to share the plan with your partner and doula, midwife, and/or doctor.

{ MORE:  My 9 Best-Ever Pregnancy Tips and Secrets }

Not only does it make you think about what you want or don’t want to happen during the birth (do you want to be able to use a tub or do you want to delay the clamping of the cord or administration of the eye ointment? for example), but it cements those things in your mind.

You are more easily able to insist on what you want when you are completely clear about your preferences. When you are in the vulnerable position of giving birth and in the middle of contractions, it’s too late to make those decisions on the fly, and too many women feel like they weren’t heard or had a terrible birth experience because they felt helpless.

I knew exactly what my ideal birth scenario was, and my doula had informed me that many of the interventions in the hospital are unnecessary and potentially harmful, like the constant checking for progress, which introduces the possibility of an infection.

I knew I needed to be flexible in case things didn’t go according to plan, but I was ready to refuse as many interventions as possible. But you can only do that if you have informed yourself about those interventions and what happens during birth and how your hospital handles deliveries.

I never ended up with that long foot massage from my husband I had envisioned and hoped for during my son’s birth — there just wasn’t time. But I did have a wonderful birth experience I’ll always cherish.

It took some dedication, research, and trust in my body (and a little bit of luck) to have that kind of birth.

How was your birth experience? Do you think that learning to work with the contractions or having a birth plan would be or was beneficial?

 
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