Natural Pregnancy

Aromatherapy belly massage!

Massaging your belly with lovely aromatherapy oils can add joy and relaxation to your daily pregnancy pampering ritual. Try rubbing your belly around in a circle (after your shower or before bed!). A mixture of four tablespoons of almond oil and one tablespoon of avocado oil is recommended by Allison England in her book Aromatherapy for Mother and Baby[1]. To this carrier oil add either seven drops of lavender and five drops of neroli oil, or seven drops of lavender and five drops of mandarin (or tangerine) oil, or seven drops of mandarin (tangerine) and five drops of neroli oil. Please refer to Anne England’s wonderful book for the essential oils that can help with pregnancy and motherhood, and also the oils to definitely avoid. If you do not like the aromatherapy oils, just use the plain carrier oil. Specially formulated oils, ready to go, are also in the Recommended Goods section.

This essential oil massage may help to prevent stretch marks. Daily massage is not only relaxing, but also honours your beautiful pregnant body and growing baby. Your partner (or other children) may like to massage your belly each day, or you can have a daily pampering time to yourself.

Bodily preparations

During the last eight weeks of your pregnancy, to prepare your perineum for birth, massage it with a quarter of a teaspoon of jojoba or almond oil each day. At this time (and throughout your pregnancy) try rubbing natural calendula cream or almond oil onto your nipples, to make them supple and ready for breastfeeding. Hopefully this will eliminate the problem of cracked or sore nipples later on. 

Blockages to birthing – mind preparations

Classes

Calm Birth Classes (previously called Hypno-Birthing Classes) can be very useful for over-coming fear. Look one up in your area

Choices

There are many choices as to where to birth, who to have with you as support staff, and options in your birth plan. Read up and chat to friends, family and professionals, so that you are happy with your choices before labour.

Birth plans

Creating a personal birth plan

A birth plan needs to be discussed with the midwives or doctor during the pre-natal visits and taken to the birth. The plan is an ideal scenario for your birth. Remain flexible and open; if an emergency occurs. The following areas require your conscious consideration; what is important for your personal birth plan?

Example Birth Plan (adapt to suit your choices)

  • To start my labour spontaneously: unless there are clear medical reasons to induce (I wish to wait until forty two weeks, if my labour remains uncomplicated).
  • My preference is intermittent monitoring with a hand held Doppler, this can be used in upright positions and will not stop the flow of labour.
  • To not have my waters broken routinely but to remain intact, the amniotic sac will not be ruptured without our consent. Rupturing the membranes can mean the baby can no longer be buoyant and change positions.
  • To have vaginal examinations only when necessary and to try to do these in a manner that is as natural as possible in my present birthing position.
  • To be able to walk around and the staff to assist in assuming whatever position is comfortable for me at the time.
  • For the room to be warm, with the lights dipped while I am in labour.
  • To be respectful and focused on the birth; speaking softly at all times, without unnecessary chatting.
  • If possible, to eat and drink in labour and to suck on ice cubes.
  • As well as my partner, my support team includes…
  • To play my own music (Do I need to bring my own CD player?).
  • To have access to a bean bag and yoga mat, for upright labour positions.
  • To birth in positions of my choice, including on the floor.
  • To not to be offered pain relief while I am birthing: I will ask if and when needed.
  • To have access to water, a shower or bath in a hospital setting or a birthing pool in a birthing centre setting.
  • To access a birthing stool in my birth room.
  • Please do not give me a routine episiotomy.
  • To be given the option of medical students or other hospital staff to enter the room while I am in labour, or immediately after my birth. I may decide to not have unnecessary onlookers.
  • Whilst crowning, I would like to touch my baby’s head and for my partner, if possible, to cut the cord (if circumstances are appropriate).
  • To not have my baby suctioned unless medically indicated, for example meconium.
  • To be conscious of my baby’s senses by keeping the lights low after birth and noise to a minimum.
  • My baby is to be put straight on to my abdomen for bonding after birth. A warm blanket can cover us both.
  • The baby is to be offered breast milk within an hour after birth. The baby will naturally find the breast with my help. A hands-off breast feeding approach is preferred. I will ask if I require assistance.
  • I would like to deliver the placenta naturally, the use of oxytoxin drugs and manual removal of the placenta in emergencies only.
  • I would like the cord and placenta to be left intact until we feel it is right to cut the cord. The cord is not to be clamped or cut unless it has stopped pulsating (unless there is a medical emergency).
  • I would like to keep my placenta, to bury under a special tree for my child.
  • For our baby to stay with us at all times: if she/he needs to be taken to intensive care, then for my partner to go too.
  • I would like my husband to room in with me in the postnatal ward (if possible).
  • All care of the baby is to happen at the mother’s bedside.

In the event of a caesarean;

  • I would like……………… to be with me in the operating theatre.
  • The parents will love and nurse the baby while the incision is being closed.
  • After the operation I would like to hold and breastfeed my baby in recovery. I do not wish for my baby to be routinely taken away to the ward.
  • I would like the humicrib to be bought to recovery, if this is required for my baby.
  • The parents wish to look after the baby at all times, after the birth, unless a medical emergency.

Talking through your birth plan with your private doula, midwife, doctor, partner and friends will create an atmosphere of loving communication, support and further ideas. These people can also be advocates for your birth plan if need be, when you are somewhat busy birthing! Preferred choices for pain relief, and naturopathic, homeopathic remedies and flower essences can also be discussed.  

It is interesting to see how birthing has its fashion! In my own Mother’s day, breastfeeding was unusual; bottle fed babies seemed to be the norm. Mothers left the hospital with a bottle in hand! Today, the benefits of breastfeeding are highly documented and there has been a swing back to breastfeeding as the first choice of baby care. What about birthing? Will there be a realization that natural birthing is the best way to go for mother and baby, only time will tell….

Working on fear (put it in its place!)

One of the challenges to birthing is over-coming fear (or at least ‘putting it in its place!’) Fear may lift its ugly head whilst pregnant, especially in the later stages. The negative voice in your head may say, “It is going to be so painful, how am I going to do this?” Fear can block the natural birthing process. Pinky MacKay in her book Parenting by Heart reinforces the importance of overcoming fear and relaxing as much as possible whilst birthing:

Fear not only affects our attitude towards birth but can affect the actual process itself. Fear can inhibit contractions and make them more painful, and therefore increase the length of labour time. [2]

Peggy O’Mara has words of encouragement:

Freely expressing these inevitable fears and anxieties with your partner and close friends helps to transform them into inner strengths that you can call upon during labour.[3]

Birth expert Sheila Kitzinger[4] also reinforces that relaxation is a vital part of labour. It is just as important to work on your emotions towards birth, as to eat healthily.

Practicing positions

There are many active birth positions to practice whilst pregnant. Practicing positions can help you to feel comfortable whilst birthing and speed up your labour. Positions include: bending forward over a table, or leaning forward against a wall; squatting on a pile of books; leaning on all fours over a bean bag; sitting astride a chair; sitting on a physio-ball, gently rocking from side to side; kneeling beside the bed; sitting on the toilet; supported kneeling and squatting with a partner; hanging from a rope (if you have beams!) Try different positions now, this familiarizes comfortable and empowering positions before the actual birth – have fun with this! 


[1] England, Allison; Aromatherapy for Mother and Baby. Vermilion, London, 1993, p.62.

[2] MacKay, Pinky; Parenting by Heart. Lothian Books, Melbourne, 2001, p.13            

[3] O’Mara, Peggy; Natural Family Living. Pocket Books, 2000, p. 28.

[4] Kitzinger, Sheila; The New Pregnancy and Childbirth. Doubleday, NSW, 1982.