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So You Want a Natural Birth

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I can’t tell you how many first-time moms I’ve heard say they want a natural birth.

“Great!” I say, “How are you preparing? What’s your plan?”

And you know what the most common response is?

A shrug. A confused look and, “I don’t know. I’m just going to wait and see how it goes when the time comes, you know?”

Every time I hear this, my heart breaks a little. Maybe you will get the birth you want, but chances are you won’t. About 25% of women giving birth say that they want a natural birth. Less than 2% actually get them.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to push you in the direction of natural birth. But I do want you to have a good birth, and if that means a natural birth to you, there are a few things to carefully consider.

The first, and perhaps most important, is preparation — childbirth education classes, discussing birth with your care provider, watching birth videos, reading, researching, anything that informs you. Before I proceed, however, allow me to acknowledge (and refute) some common arguments against thoroughly educating yourself.

Objection #1: “It’s just birth. I can learn what I need while I’m in labor. I’ll just… see how it goes.”

Know what? You’re absolutely right. While a highly intricate biological process, it is “just” birth. Women and babies do have the instinctual knowledge necessary. Here’s the kicker — for the past few hundred years, our culture has been progressively moving away from trusting a woman’s body and placing its faith in medical technology instead. In ages gone past, a woman’s friends and family came to help her labor. This meant that women saw births. They got to see what worked and what didn’t. Just as importantly, the process was normalized in their minds.

In today’s society, most women haven’t ever seen a real birth, much less a natural birth. The normal sights and sounds of an unmedicated woman giving birth aren’t accepted or acknowledged as normal, good and necessary. So, no, today it’s not a good idea to just “wing it.”

Labor takes preparation. Labor takes practice.

Objection #2: “I don’t have time to spend studying about all this!”

Would you go into an important interview without first preparing? A marathon? Your wedding?

Your baby’s birthday is one of the most important of your life. You will remember that day forever. Don’t you think that’s worth spending a little time to prepare, even if it means missing a few episodes of your favorite show or spending a little less time on Facebook?

Objection #3: “All that breathing and relaxing stuff is just a bunch of crazy, natural birth mumbo jumbo. It doesn’t actually work.”

You have a point. The whole “relax and breathe… put yourself in a happy place” thing is pretty cliche in the birth world, and I totally understand healthy skepticism. If you are skeptical about the benefits of breathing techniques, visualization, vocalization, relaxation or massage, look into the science behind them to understand why they work. Not only is the science behind it absolutely fascinating, but once you understand why certain comfort measures can be helpful, you are more likely to remember and use them when the time comes. And yes, there is science behind many comfort measures!

Objection #4: “My doctor will tell me what to do. I’m not a medical professional — why should I think I know better than one?”

Again, you’re right — you aren’t a medical professional. But you are a unique person with your own beliefs, desires, goals and needs. No two people think exactly alike on a subject, and your doctor may have different preferences than you do. You want a natural birth, but maybe your doctor doesn’t mind so much how your baby comes, as long as it’s healthy. Maybe he/she will recommend things that may make natural birth harder, such as induction.

For example, many doctors get nervous when a woman carries a pregnancy past 41 weeks and begin to suggest induction. However, if you know that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) defines a full term pregnancy as 39-42 weeks, you know that it is normally safe (with proper monitoring) to let your body naturally go into labor.

Another example: many doctors and hospitals have restrictive policies on “how long” to “let” a woman labor before diagnosing her with failure to progress and recommending a c-section. However, as ACOG says in their paper entitled “Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery”, “it may be necessary to revisit the definition of labor dystocia because recent data show that contemporary labor progresses at a rate substantially slower than what was historically taught.”

The important thing here is to know that you need to collaborate with your provider. You need to know what you want and under what circumstances you can safely achieve those goals.

Doctors are human, too, and that means they sometimes make mistakes, act out of habit or convenience or otherwise place obstacles in your path. All you have to do to prevent this from happening is to know your facts and stand up for yourself to achieve a satisfying relationship with your doctor.

End Story?

You want a natural birth. Maybe you’re a first-time mom, tentatively facing the new world of birth that’s suddenly opened up before you. Maybe you’ve already had one or two with an epidural and you want to try another way. Unmedicated birth can be intensely empowering and fulfilling, but it is also very difficult — that’s part of why it is so rewarding when it is achieved. Plan, prepare and educate yourself and you’ll be on the road to a wonderful birth experience.

Happy birthing!

Natural Pain Relief Options For Labour

Informing yourself and opting for natural methods of pain relief makes so much sense, after having spent so much time in your pregnancy agonising over only being allowed paracetamol when you are sick. Yet it seems there is a smorgasbord offered to you when you are in labour!

Being exposed to drugs in labour like pethidine (which is a narcotic and crosses the placenta freely) takes a baby much longer to get out of it’s system that it would a fully grown adult. It will wear off on an adult after only three hours, but it has a half-life of around 22 hours in your baby’s little body, and can be detrimental to breastfeeding attachment. This is due to having those same drowsy, spacey effects we get from pethidine (or morphine), only baby suffers from them for much longer.

Perhaps you have seen some scary birth DVD’s in your pre-natal classes – well rest assured, with some good support and tools, labour doesn’t have to be like that


Natural Pain Relief Option

“I found one of the best forms of pain relief during labour was definitely our doula. Whilst I may have had different techniques to help me through labour pains, my doula was the one who helped me to find the best method of drug free relief for the stage of birth I was at. The support she offered throughout also helped me to stay focused which in itself is pain relief, as stress only leads to pain and she was able to help me keep calm.”

According to many studies, women who use doulas have fewer requests for epidurals, fewer caesarean sections and are less likely to require forceps or vacuum births (amongst many other things). In a recent review of all available doula studies, it was concluded that doulas were more effective at supporting a woman than hospital staff or the woman’s friends or family. This is because she provides a trifecta of continuous (doesn’t leave your side), experienced care and is known to the woman – no other person present in the birth room can usually provide all three.

Having a doula present at your birth will make it less likely that you’ll want or ask for pharmaceutical pain relief. A doula is trained in the art of birth support, where she learns about helpful positions, support methods and tools to help labouring women feel more comfortable and feel more supported.


Learning how to relax is so important in labour, otherwise you end up in the vicious cycle of fear → tension → pain. When you tense up and get tight (which is a natural reaction to any sort of pain) it actually makes that pain worse.


  • To access your natural inner resources to alleviate the fear, anxiety and tension experienced during pregnancy, labour and childbirth
  • Practical skills of relaxation, breathing and visualisation which are used during pregnancy, labour, childbirth and beyond
  • How the mother’s body is beautifully designed to birth her baby naturally and calmly and with the right preparation, to work with the process rather than resist it
  • The importance of a mother’s beliefs and attitudes about birth and how these can be one of the major differences between a positive or negative birth experience
  • The importance of bonding with your baby and how this effects your baby’s future life
  • To be empowered to take control of your own birthing experience


Catching Babies Video

Breastfeeding is great

Breastfeeding provides babies with all the nutrition they need and a wealth of other benefits. It’s an inexpensive and proven way to save newborn lives.

Breastfeeding provides babies with all the nutrition they need and a wealth of other benefits. It’s an inexpensive and proven way to save newborn lives

Cosleeping is it recommended?

Baby Sleep Resource Page

It seems everywhere we turn today there is misinformation about a host of baby-health related subjects. One that has been given a bad name in pop culture media and certain U.S. groups is cosleeping. However, top pediatricians, family physicians, and health professionals continue to advocate for conscious, safe, non-drugged/non-smoking, breastfeeding and cosleeping mother/baby couplings. Research is conclusive that sleeping within an arm’s reach of your baby is best for baby, and best for mom for many well documented reasons.

It should be noted that cosleeping is not necessarily the same as bed sharing. A cosleeping mother and her infant may bed share (i.e. sleep on the same safe surface) or they may share sleep (cosleep) in another fashion – such as with two mattresses together on the floor, in a side-car arrangement, a cosleeper by the bed, or a crib that has been turned into a co-sleeper. Depending on one’s needs and resources, different parents may choose to cosleep by bedsharing, or by sharing sleep within an arm’s reach of their baby on separate surfaces. Both offer the physiological, hormonal, and psychological benefits for mom and baby.

Join in further conversations about baby sleep with others at:

HypnoBirthing Classes compliment

Got a great compliment at a network meeting tonight when I introduced myself

and said I was a HypnoBirthing practitioner. 

A local midwife said I’ve had birthing women that have used your service and you’re good.

I was very happy  & hopefully some more referrals

Hypnosis that can make childbirth pain-free

Hypnosis that can make childbirth pain-free


WASHINGTON —  Experts have claimed that a specific method of hypnosis, supposedly used by the likes of Kate Middleton and Kim Kardashian during childbirth, could make labor pain-free.

Cynthia Overgard, founder of HypnoBirthing in Connecticut, a prenatal education center, said that pain during labor is caused by fear and tension, Fox News reported.

Overgard explained that during labor, oxytocin causes contractions, but if the expecting mother is afraid or anxious then her body stops producing the feel-good hormone and adrenaline starts to rise.

Adrenaline redirects blood flow away from the cervix and the uterus, preventing the cervix from dilating and this slows down labor.

Overgard asserted that this is where hypnosis comes in with deep breathing, visualization and relaxation techniques that can help the woman maintain a calm body and mind.

During the hypnosis program, women also listen to guided relaxation to condition the mind and body to be calm and relaxed.

According to the HypnoBirthing Institute, mothers who used the method were less likely to have c-sections, interventions and pre-term babies.

You don;t have to be royalty to enjoy the benefits of hypnobirthing

Kate Middleton Irks Older Royals by Rejecting Birthing Protocol

December 13, 2012 01:15 PM EST

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Kate Middleton has jumped on the hypnobirthing bandwagon, joining Miranda Kerr and Jessica Alba, and the traditionalists in Buckingham Palace are none too pleased about it.

You see, the stuffy Windsors expect young Kate to adhere to royal birthing protocol, which means the old-fashioned way, but she’s refusing.

Instead, the Duchess of Windsor is adopting the new practice, which Miranda Kerr swears is the reason her son Flynn is so calm and relaxed all the time. You know, Kerr might be on to something. Miranda is always being photographed with her kid, and you never see the little guy crying or throwing a tantrum. Hmm. Perhaps this is why Middleton is also going the hypnosis route. Who wants a nervous crybaby sitting on the English throne one day?

It sounds kind of flaky and new-agey, but hypnobirthing is probably better than conventional methods, because it eschews medications and epidurals for the mother. That can’t be all bad, right?

Nevertheless, despite the obvious advantages of hypnobirthing, Middleton’s newfound assertiveness is apparently rubbing some of the older royals (i.e. Queen Elizabeth and Camilla Parker-Bowles) the wrong way. They want her to go the traditional route, and follow the same protocol as everyone else.

Photo: Wikipedia

Cutting down on C-sections possible

caesarian baby

With the availability of breech-birth specialists on the rise, natural birth is becoming possible for more women. Source: National Features

AUSTRALIA’S caesarean birth rate is double that recommended by the World Health Organization, but we have the power to change it.

A shift in birthing practices could see Australia’s caesarean section rate of 31.5 per cent fall for the first time in 15 years.
Australia’s C-section rate is more than double the World Health Organization’s suggested range of five to 15 per cent.

According to government figures, caesarean rates have risen from 20 per cent of all births in 1997 to 31.5 per cent of all births in 2009 (the most recent figures available). However, the rate rise has slowed since 2006.

C-sections are often performed when a baby is in a breech position (meaning it will enter the birth canal buttocks or feet first instead of the usual head first). But several breech birth clinics have now been established around the country, offering women the option of a vaginal birth.

New research has also found one-on-one midwife care in a Melbourne hospital reduced the C-section rate by one-fifth. Doctors say these are two indications our C-section rate can be safely reduced.

But that is not enough, says Associate Professor Stephen Robson, spokesman for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

“The single biggest thing people can do to lower the rate of C-sections is to lose weight,” Robson says. “Encouraging women economically to have children earlier in life would help too.”

Unless both these things happen in addition to changes to birthing practices, Australia’s C section rate will not significantly lower in the next 10 years, Robson says.

— Surgery switch There are many reasons for the increase in C-sections, Robson says. “One is an increase in obesity, which is a risk factor for caesareans. Women are also having babies later, so they’re more likely to have a dysfunctional labour and develop conditions that lead to a caesarean.”

Robson says the past 20 years have also seen a switch from performing difficult vaginal births to performing “safer” C-sections, “because the older, experienced obstetricians are retiring and the younger ones are taught to be more risk-averse – not surprising when they pay thousands of dollars in malpractice insurance”.

In 2000, the international Term Breech Trial suggested C-sections were safer for breech babies. The study has since been criticised on several fronts, such as inclusion of some high-risk pregnancies, but many hospitals stopped performing vaginal breech births because of it. Breech births make up about
three per cent of all births.

Research has also shown that C-sections don’t guarantee healthy outcomes. A study from Curtin University in Western Australia suggests women who have caesareans feel a sense of disconnection from their baby, and research from the Health Protection Association says 10 per cent of caesareans lead to infection.

— Breech birth option “Sometimes a caesarean is suggested when a woman does not need one,” says Dr Andrew Pesce, an obstetrician and director of Women’s and Children’s Health at Westmead Hospital in Sydney.

The hospital opened a Breech Clinic in November last year to give women with a breech baby the chance of a natural delivery. So far, the rate of vaginal breech births at the hospital has increased from five to 38 per cent, Pesce says.

“When the Term Breech Trial came out I was happily carrying out vaginal breech births,” Pesce says. “[But] after reading the study I began telling patients the results – that there was a bad outcome for one in 100 breech births. Not surprisingly, they chose caesareans. But my third patient said she’d already had a safe breech delivery and would like another, as she was low risk. That made me return to assessing cases individually.”

That is what happens at Westmead’s clinic. Each woman is advised according to her condition and, if she is low risk, she is given the choice of having a natural birth.

“We can offer that option as we have a roster of doctors who all have experience delivering breech babies,” Pesce says.

That is not the case nationwide, but Westmead hopes to rectify this by re-skilling obstetricians.

— Midwives help A recent study at Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne found one on one midwife care throughout pregnancy and birth helped reduce the C-section rate by 22 per cent. Only five per cent of Australian women currently receive this kind of care.

“We should offer it to everyone,” Pesce says. “The same goes for natural breech births. It’s not financially feasible for all hospitals, but every district should nominate one centre.”

Pesce believes avoiding inducing first-time mothers could also reduce the C section rate. A US-based study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found those who had their labour induced were twice as likely to need a C-section.

“People should also stop assuming that because a woman has had one caesarean, she has to have another,” he says. “A vaginal birth is possible in most cases.”

But with a paper in the British Journal Of Obstetrics And Gynaecology showing that as the rate of caesareans went up, death at birth in normally formed babies went down, it is clear C-sections hold an important place in modern births.

“I think society should aim for the lowest practical caesarean section rate that is compatible with safety for babies and satisfaction for women,” Robson says.

— I delivered my breech baby without a caesarean Sharyn Law, 37, has had two breech babies, the second of which was delivered without a caesarean.

“My first baby was breech early on and I discussed a vaginal birth with my doctor. He’d delivered breech babies before and was happy to try if the conditions were right. But I went into premature labour and my daughter was feet first, which is riskier, so we agreed on a caesarean. I was disappointed, but wanted what was best for the baby.

“We only discovered my second baby was breech two days before she was due. But as she was bum down, full-term and a good size, the risks were low. I’d be in hospital, my doctor was skilled and happy for a natural birth, despite my previous C section, so we went ahead. All went smoothly.

“I’m proof not every breech baby can be born naturally, but it is possible in low risk cases, with the right support. I’m hoping for a conventional head first birth with my third child, but I’ll do whatever is best.”