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10 Steps Towards a Natural Pregnancy & Birth

on December 6, 2012 by Jami Balmet 31 comments

Natural Pregnancy – What is it?? I have been on a journey the past few years of discovering what it means to be healthy and make healthy choices for my family. So when I got pregnant for the first time {we thought it was only 1 baby at that time}, I knew I had a lot of studying and a lot of hard decisions coming up over the next 9 months.

From my journey towards whole foods, I learned that a lot of “conventional” thoughts on diet are not all that healthy such as consuming low fat dairy or artificial sweeteners. So I began a new journey towards natural pregnancy. I studied nutrition, natural aids, unhealthy choices during pregnancy, and everything else under the sun.

While I only have almost one pregnancy experience under my belt and am eagerly anticipating the arrival of my boys any day now, I have found some fabulous resources and blogs that I want to share with you. And there is always more stuff to learn!

10 Steps Towards a Natural Pregnancy

1) Nutrition

Proper nutrition and avoiding harmful products in your diet is one of the most important things you can do for your body and your baby! Artificial sweeteners and other chemicals have been shown to be particularly harmful during pregnancy. The placenta does not act like a barrier…what you consume…your baby consumes!

Suggestion #1: Stick to a whole foods based diet. Try and eat a lot of natural foods such as chicken, lots of fresh vegetables, and yummy fruit.

Suggestion #2: Make sure that your diet is well balanced and that you are consuming enough essential vitamins for baby and mama. Often the vitamins we need are hiding in unusual foods.

Suggestion #3: Give yourself a little grace and remember that God is in control of this pregnancy…even if that means using canned beans and store bought chicken stock.

Suggestion #4: Create a menu plan {this especially becomes important as you get later into pregnancy}. Especially if you have other little kids in the house, getting any sort of dinner on the table can become a challenge while pregnant. And if you suffer from morning sickness or fatigue then it can become nearly impossible. So develop a meal plan early on and check out these tips for an easy meal plan to use while pregnant and still get the nutrition that you need!

Suggestion #5: This one isn’t really a suggestion but rather something you should be doing. Consume plenty of protein! Protein is absolutely vital in pregnancy! I am following the Bradley Method diet during my pregnancy and it really helps me get that essential 80-100 grams of protein each day {well more actually since I’m carrying twins)!

Source

2) Natural Pregnancy Aids

It’s very important to be eating the proper foods in the proper portions but there are also some pregnancy “aids” that can really help!

Red Raspberry Tea: I have been at first for premature labor since I’m carrying twins. So I have been drinking Red Raspberry tea  from The Bulk Herb Store. Regularly drinking the tea can help with labor and can even help with morning sickness!

“Red Raspberry leaf has a medically proven and trusted track record in helping strengthen the womb of a pregnant woman, and it is also reported to be effective in restoring the womb after delivering.”

Herbs: Pretty much any type of medicine or drug is harmful during pregnancy, can leak through the placenta and get to your baby, and should be avoided during pregnancy. But herbs can be wonderful in place of medicine {do your research though because not all herbs are approved for pregnancy}. Herbs such as nettle {helps tone the uterus}, ginger {helps with morning sickness}, alfalfa {helps increase milk supply}, and more can be so helpful during and after pregnancy!

3) Study, study, study, and do some more research

Is diet really that important? Is it really possible to have an un-medicated birth? “Everyone” seems to think that a hospital setting is the safest place for a birth?

You might be thinking all of these things {and more} when you hear the term natural birth. Maybe you are a bit skeptical like I was. So I encourage you to NOT take my word for it. Get out there and do your own research. Study the facts and listen to people’s experiences. This was eye opening for me! I will do another post on great books to read but for now here are a few sources that I suggest you start at:

4) Natural Induction

Induction {whether through the rupture of members, pictocin, or other drugs} is almost never a good idea. Sometimes there are legitimate medical reasons for it but usually the doctor is rushing things faster than they need to do when inducing. Leigh Ann shares why they chose NOT to induce even though it would have been convenient. So what do you do when you find yourself 41 weeks and this baby seems perfectly content to stay another 41?

There are several natural ways that you can choose to try and naturally induce labor without harsh drugs. These are always worth trying, especially if the alternative is pitocin and a greatly increased risk of C section.

5) Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy

Oh the aches and pains of pregnancy set in so quickly. Just two weeks ago I was telling my husband how surprised I was that my back felt great, I had hardly any swelling, and overall I was feeling good for being in my 3rd trimester with twins. Then the aches and pains set in. Now I can’t find a comfortable position anywhere and forget sleeping! But chiropractic care during pregnancy can work wonders!

Not only can it help with neck, shoulder, and back pain. Seeing a chiropractor can also help turn breech babies! There are so many benefits, but don’t take my word for it…study it for yourself!

Source

6) If You Are High Risk

I am young, have no healthy problems, and it’s my first pregnancy…I went into this thinking I was super low risk. Then we find out it’s twins and WHAM! I’m automatically in the “high risk” category. Yes being “high risk” means certain things {like I’m more at risk for a C section} but there is still a lot you can do to have a natural pregnancy and birth…at least as much as you can control.

But this of course requires more research! Many times with high risk pregnancy, OB’s will do a lot more unnecessary testing and procedures. They do this just to be on the safe side. They may try and push certain things on you and if you are not informed then you won’t know what to do. Here is a little more on twin pregnancies.

7) Morning Sickness

Ug. After the joy and delight of find out you are pregnant…the morning sickness sets in! Everybody gets it to varying degrees, but it is NOT fun! Thankfully there are some ways to combat morning sickness naturally.

  • Ginger. Ginger anything: candies, tea, cookies…any kind of ginger helps to settle your stomach
  • Eat small frequent meals throughout the day instead of large meals
  • Switch your pre-natal vitamins. Many times your pre-natal vitamin is the cause. Even if you were taking them before getting pregnant, your hormones have changed and your body may not like your pre-natals anymore!
  • Acupressure is said to help {although I have never tried it}
  • Learn more about natural remedies

8) Choosing the right setting for your Natural Birth

Oh this had my head spinning at first! Do you go with a traditional hospital birth, homebirth, or something in between like a birthing center? Ultimately because we are having twins {and the nearest birthing center is too far away :(} we are having our babies at our local hospital. But I am already thinking ahead to our next pregnancy and what we will do! Here are some excellent resources to bring you up to speed on the choices.  With any one of these choices it is possible to have a natural birth. But it’s best to know what you are getting yourself into!

9) Develop a Birth Plan

This is vital when planning on a natural birth! Most hospitals make it routine to give IV’s, electronic fetal monitor 24/7, pitocin if too many hours have gone by, shots to your newborn baby, and more. Make sure you are away BEFORE you get to the hospital what procedures are standard and develop a birth plan so that there are no surprises that day! Now…your doctor or hospital staff may ignore your birth plan but having it written out helps you to remember what you need to watch for and be more out spoken when in the hospital.

It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor or midwife about your plan before hand. For example, my doctor knows that I want to do anything possible to avoid a C section (whereas some people choose to have one over a vaginal deliver). She also knows that I do not want an IV unless absolutely necessary and she has already agreed to that.

Stacy shares her birth plan a Kate gives some more detail on how to write a birth plan.

10) Give yourself some grace

Pregnancy and childbirth is hard!! Don’t let anyone fool you, it isn’t a walk in the park. And many of these decisions are hard ones to make! Some people want to make it seem like everything is totally black and white when it comes to natural pregnancy and labor, but it’s not! Each family has to come to their own decisions and and figure out what you are comfortable with. For example, my husband has said no way on a homebirth. He feels it is too dangerous and isn’t willing to take the risk {I am trying to convince him otherwise for the next pregnancy ;)}. So a home birth is out of the question for our family right now. And you know what? There should be no judgement from other families. 

Everyone is on their own journey and ultimately you must do what is right for your family and according to God’s leading in your life. Be patient, do your homework, but remember at the end of the day that God is holding your life in HIS hands. It’s HIS will that is important and He will direct your path if you seek it. Stacy wrote an excellent post on Grace for the Pregnant Mama, please go check it out!

I would LOVE to hear about your journey. What decisions did you make during pregnancy? What kind of birth did you choose?? Please share below so that we can all learn 🙂

 

This post is part of my Natural Pregnancy & Beyond Series. Catch up on all the posts in this series:

  1. Introduction
  2. Young, In Love, and Pregnant: Our Journey To Parenthood
  3. Our Maternity Photo Shoot
  4. 7 Reasons We Are Starting a Family Young
  5. My Dream of Becoming a Stay at Home Mom: How We Made it a Reality
  6. Crowning Him in Worship: Reflections on Redeeming Childbirth
  7. 10 Steps Towards a Natural Pregnancy & Birth

Get instant free access to my Finding Joy in Your Home video course.

  • Do you want to discover more joy, peace, & tranquility within your home?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed and like your house is out of control?
  • Join my free course and learn the essential habits for Christian homemakers
  1. During my pregnancy, I stayed away from the major things, except for diet coke/mochas. My doctor was fine with it since it was in moderation and not a daily occurrence (I was still working night shift and needed it). I had an uneventful pregnancy. I did choose a medicated, induced birth, and THANK GOD I did. I wanted my physician that I trusted to be the doctor that delivered my child. My labor was not that long (I had three doses of a medication to get me going, and then I had five hours to rest until they started pitocin, my water was broken an hour later, and two hours later I was ready to push (and only pushed for 18 minutes). I am grateful that my nurse told me which doctor I wanted to do my epidural (and thank goodness I got the one I did, I had awful tearing, took a long time to be sutured up — and local anesthesia would not have been enough).

    Had I labored at home, I would not have been aware that my child’s heart rate was dropping every time I laid on my left side. I would not have known/been able to manage my blood pressure plummeting *twice* (and subsequently needing a rescue drug to bring it back up). Because I chose the route I did, I had a controlled birth so that when my child needed to be vacuumed out quickly due to a nuchal cord/decels….everything went swimmingly and peacefully, instead of a last minute panic. Had I not chosen the route I did…well, I don’t play what-ifs. I also had my infant vaccinated with the expected vaccines as well, for the safety of my child (and yes, I am a healthcare provider).

    Medical/artificial/(I don’t want to say unnatural) methods aren’t for everyone. But I praise God that they are there for those who need/want them.

  2. Did you drink red raspberry leaf tea all through your pregnancy, including the first trimester? I’ve heard some people say to avoid it during the first trimester. Thoughts?

    • Hi Mallory,
      No I just started drinking it in my third trimester! I have heard that it can help with morning sickness though in first trimester and that many people recommend drinking it throughout pregnancy. So I’m not sure why some avoid it, sorry! 🙁

  3. nothing like natural.
    i had to be induced only because of being GD at 39 weeks.
    but other than that, I did all natural even the labor.
    no pain meds. even with the cervidal/pitocin no pain meds.
    it got hard at point (8 to 10cm) but i got through.
    i was a-typical and only had an 8 hour labor.
    I loved the hospital where I had my baby.
    It was like spa.

    if you can do a complete vaginal birth, don’t be afraid to
    ask for the mirror if they don’t. it is amazing and it really
    helped me get through the pushing part (which was 1 1/2 hours).

    • Thanks for your input!! 🙂 How wonderful that you had such a great hospital!! Not everyone is so lucky 🙂 And I’m not sure about the whole mirror thing…lol! I guess we will see how I’m feeling in labor 😉

      • haha…yeah, i know some people are bit freaked about it.
        i didn’t get an opportunity to take any childbirth classes.
        so i did the babycenter online one and did some reading.
        i’m not sure what method i used as far as breathing,
        except it was my own and how i dealt with the labor
        pains. but i didn’t even think about the mirror nor
        did i really know about it until my nurse asked. it
        made a huge difference for me. it’s different for
        everyone. it was a huge boost for me in the moment.
        everyone is different.

  4. Love this! I had unmedicated births with both my boys and while painful, it was well worth it! I birthed in the hospital but had a fantastic natural-minded OB who was a God-send with both pregnancies/deliveries. Unfortunately though, I was GBS+ and have very unique labors where I go 8cm without s single contraction or labor symptom. Because of our distance to the hospital (and the fact that my labors would be quick) I went into the hospital where I got 4 hours of antibiotics and then they broke my water. Both labors were super quick, but I wish I could avoid the whole “natural” induction and just simply wait till my body was in labor, but the health of our boys was a bigger concern. 🙂 Now I am pregnant with #3 and my Doc had me sign up for life-flight since we live even farther from the hospital now. 😉

    • Oh and I meant to add that I eat a whole foods, plant-based diet, did Bradley clases and exercise daily. I believe all those things helped contribute to my faster labors. 🙂 Best of wishes to you as you get ready to meet your boys! 🙂

    • How wonderful to hear that your natural births were all worth it in the end 🙂 A good OB makes ALL the difference in the world! Of course, praise the Lord that they were healthy 🙂 I loved our Bradley class! It made me feel SO much more prepared for labor!! Thanks for sharing Kimber 🙂

  5. Hi Jami,

    I am Salo from Germany and I discovered your blog through the Modest Mom Linkup lately.
    I’m 31 years now and have 3 children (7, 5 & 1,5 years old). I had my first baby with 23 years.
    The first 2 children I got in hospital, both induced as I was overdue. The first birth was ok (about 5 hours) and went well, the second one was horrible. After that I didn´t want to go to a hospital (for childbirth) anymore.
    My 3rd baby I gave birth in a birthing centre with midwifes only. I had to bring up huge patience as I went overdue again 10 days but then everything went very well.
    I have now seen that my body does a birth in its own way: About 1 week before birth I had contractions, and some quite painfull every evening but at some point the contractions always went by and I slept.
    Then my waters broke at home, I went to the birthing centre with my husband and 30 minutes after arriving our daughter was born. The midwife didn´t even come to do a CTG but she thinks that when my waters broke I was already dilated about 6-7 cm, which my body did over that previous week piece by piece.

    I have a question to you: Do you plan to breastfeed your twins?

    I did nurse all of my 3 children, in fact still do with my 1,5 year old.

    I wish you and your husband all the best luck for your birth and hope to read news from you soon.

    Salo

  6. When i got pregnant i decided to go the natural route as well. I did a lot of research and i knew that i did NOT want to get induced unless medically necessary. So many induced labors end in c-section! And i also wanted to do it with no medication (if i could handle it…its so easy to say you arent going to until you are actually in labor! 🙂 ). But with everything i read, getting an epidual can actually slow down your contractions, which then requires pitocin, which again, ups the chances of a c-section. The day before i gave birth i had my weekly doctors visit and i was 4cm dialated! I started getting contractions on the way home and we almost turned around. I had been getting braxton hicks for the last 2 months of my pregnancy, but these were more painful. I thought it was the start of labor, but they went away and all was fine. The next day i started getting them again, but they were even more painful than the day before, not unbearable though. However that quickly changed. About 4 contractions later (and only about 5 minutes apart) they became quite uncomfortable and my water broke. (Thankfully we had just gotten home from the store!) Our bags were already packed and in the car so all i had to do was change and we were off. And even in that short time, the contractions were now back to back, maybe one minute apart and VERY painful. We live 50mins from the hospital, so it was a long and painful ride. We finally got there and my hubby got a wheel chair for me. We got to our room, i put my gown on, doctor came in and said i was fully dialated and i could start pushing! 40 mins later our son Ezra was born! It all happened so fast I couldnt believe it! Well except the pushing that seemed to be an eternity. It’s so funny how you have it all planned out in your head how you think it will go…i was planning on using a jacuzzi tub and ipad to relax and whatnot and i didnt even have time to think about any of it. God blessed me with such a fast and healthy delivery! And there was no time for an epidual, which im glad because there wasnt time to be tempted to have one! I just wish i had my midwife because i LOVE her! But she wasnt on call that night 🙁 I tore and had to have stiches and took a longer than normal time to heal. It was so painful i could barely walk! I was SO thankful my husband was unemployed at the time to help take care of me! God has perfect timing.

    I want to encourage you with breastfeeding. I knew i wanted to as well, but it was much more difficult than i had anticipated. Ezra didnt latch on all too well in the beginning and i was very sore for quite some time. Many times i wanted to give up, but i stuck with it and i breastfed him for 11 months (just stopped this week). That may not sound encouraging, but if its tough for you, dont feel like you’re the only one! And you can get through all the discomfort…it doesnt last forever!

    • I forgot i wanted to say i delivered at a birthing center and loved it….our room was huge and all the nurses were fabulous! I also forgot, at my baby shower, our pastor’s wife prayed for me that i would have a quick delivery and that it would be “over before i knew it” and thats exactly what happened! God does anwser pray so dont be afraid to ask for what you really want! 🙂

    • Wow! What a birth story!! I keep feeling like labor is still so far off because my body doesn’t feel “ready” yet…but really it could happen at any moment! And it could all happen so fast like with you! 🙂 I just read my hubby your story. And those are the exact reasons I don’t want any pain medications. I don’t want any increased risk to my babies or any increased risk of C section! But the Lord is in control!! 🙂

      And thank you! I am really excited about breastfeeding {and a bit nervous}! I’ve heard that you should plan to breastfeeding for at least 6 weeks before things get easier. And the benefit of breast milk over formula {not to mention the cost} is so huge that it would take something drastic form me to give it up 🙂 Thanks Jen for the encouragement! 🙂

  7. I also chose to go as natural as possible with my pregnancies. Once in a while I did eat junk, but I tried to keep it few and far between. I also drank RRL tea (well, the Mama’s brew from Bulk Herb). My first delivery was with an Amish midwife, she added a birthing area on to her house. It was a great experience (except for 22hrs of labor!) which included one of the best breakfasts I have ever eaten! With our 2nd and 3rd, we prayed a lot about where to go as we had moved across the country and ended up doing an unassisted birth both times. Believe me, it was a decision that made me a little nervous, but that is what DH believed we should do. All went very well both times with no complications. My last labor was the shortest one yet and possibly the one where it was the easiest to endure. I had read that drinking a very strong tea of Red Raspberry Leaf (like 1 cup of the herb to 2 cups water, let it steep for 20-30 minutes and drink as hot as you can stand it) at the beginning of labor will help greatly. I believe it helped along with the Gentle Birth from Mountain Meadow Herbs that I started taking at 35 weeks.

    Hopefully your sweet boys come very soon! 🙂 BTW, our newest son is also named Malachi and Micah is a name that we threw out as well while trying to decide on what to name our baby . 🙂

    • Oh I have my junk food days as well! I think ice cream will always be my weakness 😉 I also have the Mama’s Brew from Bulk Herb Store…in fact I’m drinking some right now!

      Wow, it sounds like you had very interesting births! We will be in a hospital for the birth of our twins but will be choosing a different setting the next time around…we just don’t know where yet. So many decisions lol! Aaw, I love the name Malachi!! It’s so unique but so Biblical and strong, we love it. And Micah has always been a favorite as well.

  8. Jami Leigh,
    This is so helpful today in our mixed up world! Thank you for giving all this really truly valuable information to the young Moms and also the readers here at Deep Roots. I wish I know it all the way back 22 years ago BEFORE I had so many problems, but the grace of the Lord allowed us to get it eventually! Do keep sharing your wisdom and joy for life! Merry Christmas!!

    • Hi Jacqueline,

      Thanks for stopping by!! I actually was just reading your testimony the other day 🙂 Thank you for sharing it. And I am currently expecting twin boys, I think that’s neat that you have twins as well! 🙂

  9. Hi! I discovered your blog through Five in Tow and have spent the last couple hours browsing through your writings 🙂 My husband and I got married in December of 2008 right out of Bible college, and we were blessed with our first baby (Kate) two days shy of nine months later! We were quite ignorant with that first pregnancy, so some things could have been better, but some things we are thankful we did! We read Robert Bradley’s book on a friend’s recommendation, and I felt very at ease with the knowledge and techniques I learned from it! I had terrible sickness from the second through the fifth month–nothing would stay down, and nothing helped. Partly because of being sick, and partly because I’ve never been a fan of hospitals or doctors, I did not schedule an appointment until I was seven months along. We got some flak from nurses about waiting, but praise the Lord, my doctor was a grandfatherly type who didn’t mind at all! (To my great misinformation and disappointment, he did not deliver the baby, but rather some young doctor and a couple strange nurses 🙁 ) In spite of the strange faces in the delivery room, my first delivery went extremely smoothly! I was a little nervous about giving birth naturally without any meds, but God blessed us with an enjoyable experience!
    I’ve been blessed to have two more beautiful children since then! Kyle was born exactly one year after Kate, and Heidi came along 17 months after her brother 🙂 And I think I’ve finally nailed down my preferred pregnancy/birth experience lol! 🙂
    Diet–It is in my genes to have gestational diabetes, and I have low iron, so I work my eating habits around those factors. Thankfully, I’ve only been borderline GD so far, and no problem with the iron!
    Doctors–I have not yet seen a doctor before seven months in my pregnancies. I had a wonderful midwife with my second, and she was very forthcoming in the pros and cons of prenatal appointments, which helped us solidify our decision. As long as the pregnancy is going well, I don’t stress about seeing the midwives early on. I make my first appointment around seven months so I’ll have a little time to get to know the midwives and they can get to know me.
    Birth–As I said, I dislike hospitals. I would love to give birth at home, but alas, there are no midwives who will do homebirths anywhere near me 🙁 My best option is a midwife at a hospital. With all my babies, I stayed at home as long as I felt was safe after contractions started (worse than having the baby in a hospital is having one in the car! ) Thankfully, we made it to the hospital in good time in each instance, and all three kids were born three hours after we got there!
    I feel so blessed to have had smooth deliveries, and pray that any in the future will be the same! (For instance, the one I am facing in about seven months. . .;) )
    So there are my birth stories/preferences, sorry for the book! Congratulations on your precious twin boys!!

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