I think I can, I think I can ...
Sometimes I still think to myself, "Did I really give birth naturally?? Me??" I'm not asking that because I think I'm awesome, but because I just can't believe I did it.
Some people have asked me how I prepared for it. I don't feel like I did a whole lot to get myself ready, but here are the things I can tell you:
1. Around week 24, I started doing prenatal yoga 3-5 times a week. I definitely could tell a difference between the days I did it and the days I didn't. On the days I missed it, I felt tighter all over and just more uncomfortable in general. The yoga lady kept saying, "This will help strengthen the muscles you will use during childbirth." I'm not sure how much it influenced childbirth but if it made it easier than normal, I would certainly not want to know what 'normal' feels like!
2. You have to mentally prepare. As I neared the end of my pregnancy, I was thinking about giving birth ... a lot. Everyday I had to remind myself that I can do this and that I am capable. But not only do you have to host a mental battle in your head, you have to deal with the comments, looks, smirks, or eye-rolls people give you when you say, "I'm going to try doing it naturally." I'm not sure what people think they're gaining by attempting to make you feel stupid, but whatever. You will probably run into a few of those scrooges so get your response ready ... whether it's a verbal response or just a look that will send them melting into the ground.
3. To go along with the above paragraph, you must have people that are encouraging you. My closest friends were always telling me I could do it. Of course, Colt was there by my side for the entire process and never hinted at, "You know, you could get an epidural, Claire." He supported me 100% in trying it this way and coached me all the way through.
4. Coaching ... yes, Colt was my 'coach,' I suppose. In my opinion, you need someone to go through this with you. We didn't take any birthing classes and I didn't have a doula but Colt did a great job and hey, I didn't have to pay him. If he said or did something that I did NOT like, I told him and he changed it. Fighting is not an option when you're in that kind of pain. He was flexible. If I wanted him to rub my back, he would. If I gave him the look of death 10 minutes later when he tried to rub my back, he'd immediately stop. Whoever you have with you needs to understand you and be able to go with the flow. The lady in labor is always right.
5. I didn't read a full book on natural birth, but I did read bits and pieces from different books I checked out from the library. One even had a practice CD with ... noises ... and things you can 'hum' or groan during labor. There was some kind of science or method to it, but I didn't spend a whole lot of time with that book. :) What I liked reading were the success stories of women who had positive natural birth experiences. I chose not to learn about every crazy detail of labor and delivery though. For me, the phrase "ignorance is bliss" proved true in this area.
I know it's not much, but that's what I did. I had a baby so I guess it turned out alright! Any tips from any other moms out there?