Natural childbirth. What does it mean to you? The process of childbirth is, of course, natural, but exactly HOW natural you want your birth to be is up to you. Some moms see their perfect birth experience in a hospital with an epidural. Others might imagine a birth at home, surrounded only by their friends and family. Still others will have a different idea entirely. Our friends at Atrium Medical Center’s Natural Beginnings Birth Center, the only natural birth center in the greater Cincinnati area, are a group of board-certified obstetricians and certified nurse midwives who work to provide you with YOUR optimal natural childbirth experience. Cincinnati Moms Blog chatted with Stacy Hudepohl and Charissa Newton, certified nurse midwives with Premier Health, for their thoughts on improving your medicine-free birth.
All new parents know how much preparation goes into having a new baby, from the tangible items like setting up the nursery, washing onesies and stockpiling diapers, to the more esoteric things, like knowing you’re completely responsible for another human life. (CMB Mom Perspective: EEK! Contemplating new momhood is scary, but you can do it!) For pregnant mamas, this includes, of course, preparing your body, both mentally as well as physically. “When we talk about natural childbirth, we talk about it being very much like preparing for a marathon,” says Stacy Hudepohl, certified nurse midwife. “It’s 50 percent physical and 50 percent mental.”
Childbirth classes are so important as part of this mental preparation and there are many childbirth classes offered at Atrium Medical Center. The Natural Beginnings childbirth class is for learning all about natural childbirth. If a natural birth is your goal, this class is essential not only for you, but for your support person as well. (CMB Mom Tip – Including your partner or support person in these classes, can be a great way to help empower and educate them as they walk this journey with you.) Also available at Atrium are a variety of other classes, including newborn care, breastfeeding, and sibling classes.
Natural Beginnings orientation happens each month, and is a free session that details the program, the program requirements, and provides a tour of the birth center. If you’re a first time parent or new to natural labor, a natural birthing class is required for you – and it’s a class you won’t want to miss. This can be any class focused on natural childbirth. If you are interested in a certain method or technique to use during labor, be sure to check into and sign up for classes early.
Choose your birth plan
Long before the big day, you and your partner will want to discuss your hopes and plans for the birth with your provider and the birth center staff. If you are interested in delivering at Natural Beginnings, it’s vital to get prenatal care with a provider that attends births at Natural Beginnings.
“The most important advice I can give is don’t wait to bring up the types of things you want,” Hudepohl says. “Don’t wait to find out that your doctor will not support you.”
Hudepohl’s point is particularly important. You’ll want a provider who has the same birth philosophy that you do. Discussing your plans with your medical providers will help you determine whether you’re on the same page.
While you’re making your birth plan, dream about the birth and how you would like it to happen. BUT, while you are planning, make sure you’re not so focused on how you want the birth to go that you lose sight of the end goal – a safe delivery. Your midwife and doctors will do their very best to adhere to your birth plan, but keep in mind, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Stay focused on getting that baby here safely!
Choose your support
Once you’ve found a provider who has the same birth philosophy that you do, also consider whether you might want to employ a doula. These professionals act as support not only for you, but for your partner as well. Use of a doula or someone who has been through natural birth can give you both the extra help you need. Talk to your provider early in your pregnancy so they can help guide you in your options for childbirth.
As your biggest support, it is vital for your partner to stay energized to support you in your labor. To that end, there is a small refrigerator in each room so families can bring snacks and drinks for their stay. There is also a separate waiting area with a kitchenette and children’s activity area. Perfect for waiting family members, or if you would like to walk around outside of your room.
As you’re packing your bag with essentials for the labor, birth and baby, remind your partner to pack one as well. Ask him to include items that might otherwise be forgotten in the rush of heading to the birthing center, like device chargers, cameras, important phone numbers, snacks and any other special items either of you might need. Everyone will stay more relaxed and happy if the focus remains on the laboring mama and not what was forgotten at home. (CMB Mom Tip: Seriously. Pack early. No one wants to be in labor and trying to organize and pack a bag!)
Choose your experience
According to midwife Charissa Newton, Natural Beginning offers many support options for those mamas who are seeking a natural childbirth.
Each room at the Center provides comfy home-like birthing suites with a queen size bed. There are even lighting options to help set the mood, whether it be bright and open, or dark and relaxing (CMB Mom Tip: Good for catching a few winks between contractions!). There is even a color changing recessed lighting option above the bed, that you can control. How cool is that?! We know lots of big brothers and sisters-to-be who would be very interested in playing with the lighting!
For those mamas interested in water therapy, you’ll find a Jacuzzi® tub within the room with jets and lighting options, as well as a removable shower head. The bathroom is very large and open as well, with a shower chair and a removable shower handle, great for use during labor. Aromatherapy, birthing balls and the inflatable CUB birthing stool are also available.
There is also a digital artwork screen above the bed, which allows you to bring your own pictures or videos on a USB drive to play as you like. (CMB Mom Perspective: You can look at your other babies for inspiration! Or maybe just a peaceful beach scene. Depends on the moment.)
One-on-one nursing care is provided, with as much or as little labor support as you might need. Providers at the Center use a Doppler (ultrasound device) to listen to fetal heart tones, so you are free to move around and be in any comfortable position. Nurses encourage you to use positions for delivery that feel right as you labor.
Natural Beginnings may feel a lot like home, with the cozy surroundings and comfy bed, but it is still a state-of-the-art medical facility. The emergency equipment is definitely there and ready to use if needed. They just keep it tucked away in cabinets to preserve that beautiful home-like environment. And let’s face it. We all want state-of-the-art medical care, but we don’t necessarily want to look at the equipment!
For postpartum care, Natural Beginnings has 24-hour rooming-in with no separation of the family unit unless complications arise. We support you in breastfeeding; therefore, pacifiers or formula supplements are not given without parental consent or medical necessity.
In the end, we all know that pregnancy and childbirth can be unpredictable, so understanding that plans may change can help you keep your goals insight. Trust in your body. After all, a healthy mom and baby are the ultimate goal, so remember: Keep your options open.