Preparing For Natural Childbirth
When you are preparing for a natural childbirth experience, there are three areas of preparation that you should pay extra attention to, to ensure a safe happy experience. These are nutrition, exercise, and childbirth education.
You will need to eat a balanced diet (balance of complex carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats) that includes a wide variety of colorful vegetables, fruits, protein laden food and whole grains with plenty of fiber. You would do well to avoid junk food with high calories and sodium, but low nutrition. You should strive to get the most nutrients for your calorie expenditures.
You don't want to go on a weight-loss diet during pregnancy because you could rob your baby of vital nutrients he or she needs to develop properly. On the other hand, you don't want to "eat for two" by doubling your caloric intake either. You should gradually add calories as your pregnancy progresses. Add no extra calories the first trimester, 240 calories the second trimester, and 450 calories daily during the third trimester.
Proper exercise during pregnancy will do many things to help you have a safe labor and delivery. It will help you avoid unhealthy weight gains and lower your risk of gestational diabetes. It will also serve to lighten your mood. Other things it will do include:
- Condition your muscles for childbirth
- Increase your energy
- Increase circulation
- Decrease swelling and shortness of breath
- Decrease constipation and varicose veins
A good routine will include:
- Daily aerobic activity such as walking for thirty minutes,
- Some stretching and flexibility exercise such as yoga or tai chi ten minutes daily
- Strength training (working out with weights or on weight machines) twice a week.
Lamaze classes are perhaps the best known of the childbirth preparation classes. Your midwife or healthcare provider might teach Lamaze exercises, or perhaps other techniques that she has found to be most helpful. These classes will help you to anticipate labor and delivery with more confidence and comfort.
The four main types of childbirth classes taught in the US cover relaxation techniques during labor and delivery. They will include preparation for nursing your baby as well.
- The Lamaze Method: These classes typically include 12 hours of instruction on helpful breathing techniques during labor, and how your partner can be supportive to you during labor and delivery.
- The Alexander Technique: This is a weekly class to help you learn coordination, flexibility, and ease of movement. It will help you to be more comfortable while pregnant and also help you when it comes to time to deliver the baby.
- The Morgan Method or Hypnobirthing: You would be taught how to relax during childbirth with self-hypnosis techniques. It can be taught in five 2½ hour (or four 3-hour) classes.
- The Bradley Method (Husband Coached Childbirth): This course prepares you for natural childbirth and also cesarean childbirth if needed. Your partner will learn how to coach you through the childbirth process.
Confidence and Well-being
By endeavoring to eat healthily, exercising faithfully, and learning to work with the childbirth process, you will be in good shape to have a good natural childbirth experience (or be prepared for an emergency if it comes up).