As you know, Mr. Popcorn and I had a home birth. What you don’t know is that we didn’t attend a birthing class until our 37th week and Baby Popcorn came on the 38th. Where we lacked in birthing class knowledge, I made up in having read a lot of books and online content.
Leading up to this moment, I really wondered how I’d cope with labor. Everyone said it felt like your worst cramps on steroids. To be honest the worst cramps I’ve had were in eighth grade. I’m 30 now and I really haven’t had bad cramps since, so this insight was neither helpful nor encouraging. I was afraid it would be a pain I could not bear. But, if you read our birth story, you know that we survived!
Below are the reasons why and tips that helped us after Baby Popcorn arrived. Hopefully they will help you in your journey of having a baby without medical intervention and the days that follow:
- Stay in the moment of each contraction. Do not think about the pain that will come during the next one.
- Know that it will all be over soon enough and that labor is temporary/merely a blip on the map of your life.
- Breathe and/or moan deeply. Do not scream at the top of your lungs. It takes more energy than you have to spare.
- Give in to the pain. Don’t fight it.
- Have snacks and food for whoever is attending your birth. They need to stay nourished so that they can be there for you during the labor.
- Make sure to have hydrating beverages on hand for yourself. I really enjoyed raspberry leaf tea (3 bags steeped over night in a large pot of hot water yielded a light but refreshing brew), stinging nettle tea, hibiscus tea, and water. Some people say you shouldn’t drink hibiscus tea because it creates contractions, but I drank it in the first and third trimester of my pregnancy and was fine.
- Have all of your birthing materials ready at least a month out from your EDD.
- Listen to what your body wants you to do and do it. That may be kneeling on all fours, or squatting, or some other position.
- Visit and do the exercises on the Spinning Babies website before and during labor. There’s also really good information on that site about what exercises to you can do to shift your baby’s position.
- Know that how you envision your labor may not happen. Be open to change (long/quick labor, hospital transfer, etc).
- Have someone that you love deeply present at your birth. It might even help to say that you love them during the labor. I surprised myself by telling Mr. Popcorn that I loved him in the middle of a contraction instead of yelling at him.
- Don’t hold on to any anger that you may have towards anyone. It makes the pain harder.
- Visualize how you will cope with the labor beforehand. Do some simulated-contraction coping exercises. My doula had me put ice in my hands, hold it tight, close my eyes, and sort out how I would get through the pain.
- Have a close friend or family member coordinate who will bring you food and help clean your house for the first month or two of your child’s life. Give them your address book and let them work their magic. I really underestimated how important this was. A lot of my friends don’t have kids and admittedly didn’t know all that was involved in supporting a new mom.
- Make sure to have people around at all times that will help you and not just want to see the baby. This also helps with warding off the baby blues.
- Have your diapers, clothes, detergent, and blankets ready to go. I guess that pretty much goes without saying.
- Get a baby carrier with an infant insert or body sling for your baby so that you can rock them in either contraption while they are awake or need to go to sleep. This also helps to free your hands while not feeling so far away from the baby when he/she is young. And, if you haven’t mastered how to put the baby down without him/her crying in the first weeks, the carrier or sling is a GODSEND.
What did I miss? What advice would you give a new mom having a home or natural birth?