Experiments in Natural Family Living: 5 First Steps Toward Preparing for a Natural Birth

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

Welcome to the January 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little more natural. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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This month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting challenged us to try something natural or green for at least a week and to share our experiences. I have to admit that I felt pretty proud of myself for already implementing many of the simple and amazing ideas for natural family living experiments, and although I would love to try almost everything on this list, when I thought of what was actually a pressing matter for me, I realized that nothing is probably more important to me at this point than preparing to have a natural birth in May.

A little background on my last birth experience:
Baby, now 18 months old, was born via a Cesarean birth due to his breech position. I had been very intent upon having a natural birth and prepared by doing things like being very dedicated to the Hypnobabies home study course and switching from OB-GYN to midwife care for my pregnancy. Baby presented as breech very early on in the pregnancy, and unfortunately, his position never budged even a little, so I resigned myself to a Cesarean birth since no one delivers breech babies naturally around here. I tried acupuncture, moxibustion, various exercises, and pretty much every natural way to turn him, but it was to no avail. I let go of my dream of having a natural birth and focused on the fact that my sweet boy would be arriving soon – something that was beyond even my wildest dreams.

This all makes me even more determined to have a natural birth this time around, and I would like to be as prepared as possible, so I spent my carnival experiment time getting all of my ducks in a row for beginning natural birth preparations.

Here are some of the biggest tasks I completed:
1. I read Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation.
I have so much to say about Birthing from Within that I will be writing a post dedicated just to this book in the near future, but for the purposes of this post, I will say that this was by far the biggest accomplishment of my experiment and the thing that makes me feel most comfortable going forward. This book also helped me create a list of next steps that I will be working on from now through the time of my daughter’s birth in May.

2. I found a prenatal yoga class to attend on a weekly basis.
This was actually more difficult than I thought it would be because there are no classes very nearby. Everything I found is at least 30 minutes away and at a time that would mean my husband would have to leave work early in order to get home for Baby and for me to drive in rush hour to get there in time. Luckily, I wound up finding the latest class possible with a teacher who is also a doula and a childbirth educator. I am really looking forward to this!

3. I researched doulas.
I feel like a doula will be essential to my birth experience this time, and I am really excited to find the right person for me. I used the DONA International site and other local resources to create a short list of people to contact and interview.

4. I found and registered for a natural childbirth class.
I found a natural childbirth class that will run for two six-hour Saturday sessions in March, and arranged for the grandparents to watch Baby. Although I will continue to do a lot of reading and preparation on my own, this class is most interesting to me because my husband and I will attend them together. My husband will be a key support person for me throughout labor and delivery, and I want him to feel as comfortable, prepared, and knowledgeable as he possibly can as I know this will be a huge experience for him too.

5. I have started a list of things I want with me and around me while I am in labor to help me feel as confident and at ease as possible.
So far, besides the more obvious things, I decided I want things like pictures of my son around me and that I would like to have a rose quartz touchstone that a friend gave me to hold on to. It is supposed to be a stone that opens the heart chakra to all forms of love including self-love and family love. It has also been known to lower stress, remove fear, and be helpful and protective in pregnancy and childbirth.

Overall, I am feeling much more confident on my path towards natural childbirth, and accomplishing these tasks and setting a list of new ones has helped me feel more positive and proactive in general about entering this new stage of motherhood.

mom and baby on christmas

Mama and Baby are getting prepared and excited for Baby Sister's arrival!



I would love to hear your advice for natural childbirth preparation in the comments section below!

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Make your own moisturizer! — Megan at boho mama whips up a winter skin-friendly moisturizer.
  • Cold Water Only — Brittany at The Pistachio Project talks about how you do not need hot water to wash laundry.
  • Family Cloth… Really?? — After lots of forethought and consideration, Momma Jorje finally decides to take the plunge with family cloth.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle : 5-5-5 Things A Day — Luschka from Diary of a First Child writes about decluttering her home in an attempt to create a gentler living space. She takes on a new project where she sets a goal of reducing, reusing and recycling every day.
  • Pros and cons of family cloth — Lauren at Hobo Mama would love to continue replacing paper products with family cloth … if she could only get over how damp she feels.
  • Craftily Parenting — Kellie at Our Mindful Life finds that crafting makes her a better parent.
  • Changes — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen couldn’t choose just one area to experiment with, so she wrote a long post about all the fun changes initiated in her life!
  • Life without Internet: Not all it’s Cracked up to Be — Adrienne at Mommying My Way tries to go a week without the Internet, only to realize a healthy dose of Internet usage really helps keep this stay-at-home mom connected.
  • My Progression to Raw Milk — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares her natural parenting progression all the way to trying raw milk.
  • mama’s new little friend. — Sarah at Bitty Bird tries a menstrual cup to “green her period,” and is pleasantly surprised when she falls in love with the product!
  • Before you throw it out, try homemade laundry soap! — Jennifer at Practical OH Mommy shows visual proof that homemade laundry soap is cheaper, easier, and works better than the store-bought chemicals!
  • Oil, Oil, No Toil, No Trouble — K from Very Simple Secret talks about her foray into the oil-cleansing method.
  • I Need a Hobby — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro couldn’t decide which experiment to run, so she did them all.
  • 7 days of macrobiotics for a balanced family — The Stones make a [successful] attempt to release the “holiday junking” with 7 days of macrobiotic meals to balance their bodies and souls. Elisabeth at Manic Mrs. Stone includes an explanation of macrobiotics.
  • Chemical Free Beauty Challenge — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction turned to natural alternatives for her daily beauty and cleaning routine, with great results.
  • Greening my Armpits!? My Green Resolution — Shannon at The Artful Mama talks about how she decided to give up her traditional antiperspirant and make the switch over to crystal deodorants and definitely isn’t looking back!
  • Going Raw (for a while) — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares her family’s experience with raw food.
  • Do we get to eat gluten today? — Sheila at A Gift Universe has been trying to figure out if her son does better with or without gluten in his diet … but it’s really hard to tell for sure.
  • Hippies Can Smell and Look Fabulous Too! — Arpita of Up, Down And Natural details her experience of going shampoo-free and overhauling her cosmetics to find the balance between feeling beautifully fabulous and honoring her inner hippie.
  • Our cupboards are full…but there’s nothing to eat — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud takes on the challenge of chomping through the contents of her storecupboard rather than going shopping — but there’s something that she just can’t bring herself to do …
  • Elimination Experiment 3.0MudpieMama recounts the messy adventures of her baby daughter trying to be diaper free.
  • Family Cloth Trial — Amyables at Toddler in Tow talks about making and using family cloth wipes in the bathroom for the first time.
  • Taking a Hiatus — Amy at Peace 4 Parents shares how her experience of much less internet interaction affected her family and how it will change her approach in the future.
  • Trying Out the Menstrual Cup — Lindsey at an unschooling adventure ditches the tampons and gives menstrual cups a try.
  • Managing Food Waste in Our Home — Tired of the holiday waste, Robbie at Going Green Mama takes a weeklong focus on reducing food waste in her home, and learns some lessons that can take her through the new year.
  • Going Offline, Cloth Tissues, and Simplicity — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses over her time away from blogging and social networking. In addition, she shares her newfound love of cloth tissues and simplicity.


Visit Healthy Child Healthy World for more information on having a healthy pregnancy.

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren@Hobo Mama January 10, 2012 at 7:04 am

Those sound like fabulous preparations! As you well know, some aspects of birth are not up to us, but it sounds like you’re doing a great job getting yourself ready for what will likely be a normal and wonderful birth. :)
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2 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Thanks! Yes, I certainly know anything can happen – especially after my last birth – but I feel good knowing I am doing everything I can to have the birth I want. :-)

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3 Christine @ African Babies Don't Cry January 10, 2012 at 10:30 am

This is a great list of preparation steps for a natural birth. I had a natural birth in a hospital for my first and am hoping for either a home birth or a birthing centre birth next time round, so Im bookmarking this page :)

Looking forward for your post on Birthing from within!

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4 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Thank you! And thanks for bookmarking the post ;-)

My Birthing from Within post should be up on Friday.

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5 Dionna @ Code Name: Mama January 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I’m so proud of you for taking positive steps to have the birth experience you desire! You will be a strong, empowered mama :)

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6 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Thank you, Dionna! That’s what I’m hoping for ;-)

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7 Jen from SlightlyCrunchyMama January 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm

One thing I did right before my baby was born was go to an Arvigo therapist. She was amazing with massage and did some work on my belly to get the little dude lined up and ready to birth! Some people think it’s “hippie crap”, but I’m convinced that the pressure point therapy she did sent me into labor (I was 5 days overdue) and the work she did on my belly put him in perfect position!!! I will be heading back to her the next time I am pregnant. Probably around 39 weeks or so. Best of luck to you mama!!!
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8 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Thanks for letting me know about this, Jen! I’ve never heard of Arvigo before, but I’m definitely going to look into it now!

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9 Amber January 10, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Good for you!

I switched from an OB-GYN to a midwife at 34 weeks when I found that the hospital wasn’t going to be as supportive of my natural birth as they led me to believe. I chose to birth at home, since that sounded comfy.

Despite a VERY long and hard labor, I am so glad I did.

Some things I couldn’t have lived without:

Exercise ball – I bounced through my contractions on that thing. Took the pressure off the lower part of my back, and allowed me to sort of squat into the contractions and work with them. Bonus: after the little one was born, he LOVED being bounced. I would hold him and bounce on the ball to soothe him. At 2.5 years, he still loves it when he isn’t feeling well.

Someone to fetch you a smoothie – Or any other simple treat to keep your energy up. My sister brought me a fruit and protein smoothie. My mom brought me liquid B vitamins and honey. The midwife and her assistant would bring me watermelon and juice. Helped me make it through.

Music – IF you are the type of person calmed by music, make an assortment of playlists that you can easily have someone put on for you. I say an assortment because you may change your mind about what you want. Make one upbeat, one soothing, or maybe one with words, one without.

Very excited for you. It is an empowering, beautiful experience. Remember, when you get to the point that you feel you can’t go on, you are usually right there. :)

(This is the account I wrote up of my natural birth if you want to read it: http://wosushi.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/fresh-out-of-batteries/)

Best wishes!

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10 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm

Amber, this is all such good advice – THANK YOU!

I am definitely getting a birthing ball. I’ve definitely thought about bringing a cooler of drinks and snacks, but I had not considered liquid B vitamins, honey or watermelon. Those are all such great ideas!

I’m heading over to check out your post in a bit!

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11 Elisabeth@Manic Mrs. Stone January 10, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Hey!!! We are doing the same thing lol. My daughter (now 2) was born via c-section and I’m bound-and-determined to have a natural birthing experience this time. I will be in a hospital of course (I’m sure your aware of the risks of VBACs), but I’m doing Hypnobabies, yoga, perineal massage, and getting a doula!

I really hope it works out for both of us :D :D

xoxo
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12 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Nice!!! I really hope we both have the experiences we want too! We’ll have to keep each other posted!! xo

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13 All Natural Katie January 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I love you how you accepted that you were going to have a C-section and moved forward with it. I am sure it was hard to accept and move forward, but you still did it! You are blessed to have another chance a natural birth.
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14 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Thank you so much, Katie! I am definitely blessed ;-)

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15 Kristen @ My Semi-Crunchy Life January 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I think you’re off to a great start! The prenatal yoga class (and especially the instructor) sounds great. I wish I had done something like that when I was pregnant. And, also think it’s a great idea to do the class with your Hubby. Mine was always on board with a natural birth and a “whatever you want,” but when we took the class he really understood why. He wasn’t interested in reading books, so the class was great.

I switched from an OBGYN to a MW at 33 weeks pregnant with my second and it was the best decision I ever made. Are you using the same midwife as you had with your son?
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16 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Thanks, Kristen! I’m glad to hear the class had a big impact on your husband. I think it will on mine too.

We’re using a different midwife practice because we live in a different location than where we lived for most of my last pregnancy. I’m so glad changing to a midwife was so helpful to you!

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17 Cindy January 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Such an adorable article! I like your photo so much! Both of you are so cute;)

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18 Queentob January 10, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I had a natural birth for big b and then a c with little bee. For me, The recovery from a natural birth is so much easier. I was up walking around, mere hours after his birth. I felt incredible and loved how alert we all were. Having my hubby there was THE single most BENEFICIAL part of the whole experience. I just threw all of my focus into his blue eyes.
Can’t wait to learn more about your journey.

Xo

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19 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I’m so glad your hubby was such a big help! I’m sure my husband will be invaluable, just as he is with everything ;-) xo

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20 Kelly January 10, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Great list Charise! I am so with you on the feeling comfortable one in particular – I think that is something that is hugely underrated. I hope you get the experience of your dreams! :D
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21 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Thank you, Kelly!

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22 MamaP January 10, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Your sentence,” …the birth of my daughter” made it so real! Hope I am one of the Grandmas to babysit in March for your birthing classes. I remember like it was yesterday attending Lamaze classes as I prepared for the birth of my first child, Baby’s Dada.

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23 Emilia January 11, 2012 at 4:09 am

Good for you! Great list, you all seem well-prepared to me. :) I had to do the Cesarean too with my first born, I had no choice, she was in the wrong position, but I would really love to try natural birth. You, as a mother, must feel so much energy, so much control! :)

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24 Syenna January 11, 2012 at 9:43 am

I am sending you gentle birthing vibes for when the time comes. I had a c-section with my twins when they needed to be delivered prematurely, and was determined to have a natural labour 2nd time around. My birth preparation paid off and I really truly loved (most of) the VBAC experience. Best of luck beautiful Mama!
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25 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Thanks so much, Syenna! I’m so glad to hear that you were able to have the VBAC experience you hoped for!

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26 Gaby @ Tmuffin January 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I love Birthing from Within! That is such a great resource for birth, and just for looking inward in general. And it’s awesome that you are using a doula too. I heard about a study that found that women who had another woman in the room with them–even if it was just someone in the corner, knitting or reading, had shorter births! Support is huge.
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27 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Wow – that study sounds so interesting – and right on!

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28 JDaniel4s Mom January 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm

What great tips! This really sounds like a great way to have a baby!
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29 Mandy @ Living Peacefully with Children January 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm

It sounds like you are working to get the birth that you want.
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30 Ghada V January 12, 2012 at 12:36 am

Have you looked into hypnobirthing at all? It was a tremendous help with the birth of my 10 week old. I didn’t take the course but instead read the book and did a tonne of research online. My husband helped me practice with a “rainbow script” for deep relaxation.
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31 Erica @ ChildOrganics January 12, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Great post! I had a C-section with my second, and had a most beautiful HBAC with my third. My biggest obstacle was overcoming fear. I had to work a lot on sending positive messages to myself. Trusting that I made the best decisions for my body and baby was huge for me. Sounds like you are ahead of the game.
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32 Kristl Story January 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Reading your article makes me thankful my days of childbirth are over…I have no tolerance for pain! You’re a stronger woman than I am!
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33 Charise @ I Thought I Knew Mama January 17, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Haha – Thanks, Kristl!

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34 Elizabeth January 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I think that finding a provider who is very supportive of natural birth probably helped me the most because I didn’t have to “fight” for it. But prenatal yoga and my doula definitely helped me manage contractions and feel empowered during labor.

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