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Instinctual Birth

Guest Post by Perinatal Educator Danielle Bergum

If you follow me long enough, you’ll realize how much of a home birth advocate I am; but the truth is, the majority of moms are birthing in a hospital and it is important that they know how to make this experience the best it can be for their family.  Bottom line, you want an instinctual and as close to biological birth as possible.  It makes for a more positive experience, but it also means mom and baby are typically healthier.  Situations arise where medical attention is needed, but (contrary to what the modern culture would have most of us believe) when mom is allowed to follow her instincts, these situations rarely arise.

There are a few things you can look for when creating the setting for your instinctual birth:

  • A comfortable environment (to include location and birth team) where mom is in control and in no way pressured.
  • Freedom of movement throughout all stages of birth and no suggestions for positions. Period.  If mom is in the best environment for an instinctual birth, she will not need suggestions even from a loving birth attendant.  Our bodies are amazing at telling us how to move and breathe and vocalize during labor.
  • Quiet and calm setting with only mom touching and nuzzling the baby (skin to skin without a hat) after the birth.  No parties or baby passing; these moments are truly reserved for mom getting to know her baby so the involution process (uterus shrinking to its original size) can progress as intended, and the baby and mother can smell each other to increase oxytocin which affects breastfeeding success, bonding, postpartum hemorrhage, and a variety of biological functions, some of which we don’t even know.

If any one of these things is not supporting biological birth, the mom’s ability to use her instincts will be hindered, but she can find many ways of having a positive experience.  One promising way is communication.

Talking with your birth team and making the best decisions possible based on your specific situation can help you have the best birth for you and your baby.  I am a fan of both direct and indirect communication, and that is why I provide my students with a door hanger for their hospital birth.  A door hanger is a great way to greet your birth team as they enter the room and remind them of the type of birth you’re creating.  This door hanger communicates the desire for an instinctual birth while reminding them to enter quietly and view the space as one of relaxation.  Likewise, this helps to avoid unnecessary suggestions for pain medications or augmentation methods (speeding up labor).  A few blank lines at the bottom leave space for the mom and birth partner’s names, any sibling’s names, or any other birth team member names – such as your montrice or doula.  Or, you can simply write a special note communicating a few other specifics or a little prayer.  Punch a few holes and tie with a string or ribbon then hang on your hospital door for a visual reminder each time someone enters your birth space.

Finish all this off with a bowl of fruit or tray of cookies that will really make the staff’s night.  If you can present your birth guide with a few goodies, you can butter them up a little to help your birth be more pleasant.  What a great activity for early labor to help distract you from the contractions and keep you upright and moving to bring the baby down!Save

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