Natural Birth Plan: What I Learned At Birth Class


We had our birth class at our birthing center last week and we are officially inching our way closer towards trying this intimidating thing called natural birth. Eek!

I'm starting this series, called Natural Birth Plan, to keep you in the loop of all the things that I am learning through my midwives at my birthing center.

I feel like with Winter I wasn't super knowledgeable about all of my options so this time around I want to be so much more informed.

Below are some things that our parent educator taught us. 

Top 5 Favorite Things That I Learned in our Birth Class

1. Gate Control Theory: I had learned this somewhere in graduate school but had totally forgotten about it. Basically, Gate Control Theory is how the body communicates with the brain. It's shown that the brain processes "pleasure sensations" much quicker than "pain sensations." Pleasure sensations travel up larger nerve fibers than pain sensations and as a result they reach the brain much quicker. So, if we can flood the brain with pleasure sensations, we can in essence "block" the pain sensations that are being registered by the brain. This theory comes in super handy during labor and delivery. We learned that setting the mood by the use of aromatherapy, essential oils, and pleasant visual stimuli can all help stimulate the pleasure sensations.
Side note: I am learning so much about essential oils and will do a whole blog post on that later.

2. Optimal Fetal Positioning: Okay, so with Winter I knew that it was good if the baby was head down but I had no idea about the differences between anterior and posterior positioning until I had Winter and she was posterior or as they called it in the hospital, sunny side up. 

While we can't always control what position our baby ends up, there are some things that you can do to support Optimal Fetal Positioning. They gave out this great resource called Spinning Babies. The website shows different exercises you can do to support pregnancy and birth. I didn't do anything like this when I was pregnant with Winter. 

3. 5 Senses Birth Preferences: At my clinic the midwives request that you spend time thinking about how you want to create a positive birth environment. They ask you to fill out the following, breaking down your preferences based upon the 5 senses. They want to know what I want and what I don't want from each of the following categories: See, Hear, Smell, Taste, and Touch. I will share what I come up with in the near future. I also know that these preferences may change during labor but I thought it was cool that they have us think about them beforehand. 

4. Breathing and Relaxation Techniques for Labor: You guys all know that I am all about the breathing techniques that I incorporate into my daily mindfulness routine. While I know a lot of techniques, I was really pleased that they were sure to cover them during the class. 

One relaxation technique that I loved is called 'Touch Relaxation'. It's where your partner looks for where you are holding tension (e.g., jaw, forehead, toes, eyes, hands, etc) and touches her on the body part that appears to hold tension to cue her to relax. I just think this sounds like a beautiful way to not only release tension but connect with your partner during the laboring process. It's one we will be certain to use. 

5. Coping Styles: Along the same lines of the 5 senses, they also asked us to think about ways we hope to be supported during the labor and delivery process. There are questions for both Mom and the partner. A few of them are listed below.

For Mom:

  • When you are mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, what sources do you draw off of to gain new energy?
  • When you are scared or overwhelmed by what is ahead, where do you find the courage to move forward?
  • When you feel helpless or unable to control a situation, how do you react?

For Partner:

  • When you want to help someone but feel like you don't know how, how do you react? How do you cope? 

And I want to note, I don't think that this information is just for those doing a birthing center, home birth or any other alternative birthing plan to that of a hospital birth. Even if I end up in the hospital with an epidural or having an emergency cesarean I think that the information I learned during the class can be beneficial in a lot of different scenarios. No matter how my baby enters the world, it's going to be a beautiful blessing and we can't wait to meet him or her.

Let me know if you have any other tips and tricks that might be helpful.