The Chattanooga Doula's Guide to a Natural Childbirth

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Carrying, and preparing for your new baby is such an exciting time. During this time you will make many decisions about the way you want to parent, and what you think is best for your baby. You will also be making decisions about how you intend to give birth.

If a natural birth is the birth experience you long for keep reading, The Scenic City Doulas created this Guide for Natural Childbirth with you in mind.

Step One: Make a Plan:

Natural Childbirth requires a strategy, its not typically something you happen into. It is also important to understand that your birth may not go exactly as planned, so be prepared to be flexible with your plan when the time to give birth comes. However, having a plan of your ideal birth, and an understanding of why this plan is important to you; will help you to focus and acheive your birth goals. When creating your birth plan, be sure to share your birth plan with your whole birth team. It is best when you are writing out your plan to keep it simple. Focus on your top ten most important goals and bullet point them. This will make it easy for everyone on your birth team (Doctor/midwife, Doula, and Nurses) clearly see the plan that you have laid out. After having a written copy, talk in detail to your care provider and doula about your birth wishes.

Step Two: Prepare for Birth:

In step two, you execute your plan. Labor is an intesnse, physical, and emotional process. Much like running. You wouldn't run a marathon without preparing; so it is with birth,it requires preperation. Preparing physically for labor consists of eating a balanced diet, as well as excercising. Prenatal yoga, walking, and Fit4MOM Chattanooga classes are all great ways to get your body prepared for birth. You can prepare mentally by taking childbirth education classes. Taking a birth class will help you to better understand the physiology of birth. When you understand how the birthing process works, it won't seem so scary when the time comes to give birth.

Step Three: Hire a Scenic City Doula:

Having a doula on your birth team is extremely important if you are planning a natural birth. Our doulas are trained birth professionals that stay by your side throughout your enitre labor. Even though nurses are amazing (and we are so lucky to have such great nurses in Chattanooga) they have other patients and responsiblities to take care of. Sometimes, you get used to a nurse that you really like, and then her shift ends, so you have to start a whole new relationship with another nurse. That is why the contiuous support of a doula is so important. The Scenic City Doulas are also trained to understand the different stages of labor and know when to incorperate different comfort measures, laboring positions, and breathing techniques. Our doulas meet with you during your pregnancy so that we know what your plans are for your birth. We help prepare you to meet that goal, and then assist you and the rest of your birth team when your labor day comes. The Doulas are also there to help assist dads. Birth is an exciting time, but can also be a scary and overwhelming time for dads. We want birth to be a positive experience for moms, but we also want it to be a positive experience for dads too. Our prenatal visits help dads feel comfortable at birth. We provide him with information, as well as support techniques that he can utilize when mom is in labor. This helps provide dads with confidence, knowing that they will be able to effectively support their partner in labor.

Step Four: Choose a Care Provider:

When choosing your care provider, make sure that your personalities mesh well together. Having a care provider that is in agreement with your birth plans, is realtional, and comfortable with natural births is crucial to you succesfully acheiveing the natural birth you desire. You want to make sure this person respectfully answers your questions, and that you feel comfortable using them.There are a few options for care providers that are available to birthing women in Chattanooga. The first option is the Obstetrian (OB). An Obstetrician is a labor and delivery doctor, who is also a trained surgen. Obstetricians are more likely to use medical intervention during labor since they aren't as experienced in natural births. The next option available to Chattanooga women is a CPM or Certified Practicing Midwife. CPM's are trained midwives who have gone to midwifery school, but do not have a degree in nursing. CPM's are usually used for home births, and are incredibly skilled at delivering healthy babies to a healthy mother safely at home. Another option is a CNM or Certified Nurse Midwife. Certified Nurse Midwives are nurses who also have midwifery training. CNM's usually deliver in birth centers, or hospitals, like an Obsteritian, but they aren't trained surgeons. When seeking out your care provider feel free to ask what their cesarean rate is. Or ask about the percentage of women that they work with that deliver naturally. For CPM's you could ask what the plan is if an emergency were to arrise and you need to have a hospital transfer. These kind of questions, help you navigate which care provider would work best for you and your family.

Step Five: Choose your Birth Place:

You want the place you give birth to be a positive environment. When considering a hospital, birth center or home births you need to keep a couple of things in mind. Is your birth high risk? If you plan on having a home birth, how far is the nearest hospital in case of a hospital transfer? Where does your care provider deliver? What is the atmosphere you would like to have at your birth? Would you like candles? Do you want to give birth in a birth pool? Do you want to give birth in a birth center that has the comforts of home, and the technology of the hospital? Are you comfortable with having students at your birth? When closing your eyes during contractions, what sounds in your birth place would put you at ease? What smells put you in that place of peace? These are all questions to consider when choosing your birth place, and you have complete control over it.

Step Six: Make Informed Decisions:

When making decisions during birth (and throughout pregnancy) make sure you are being informed and not forced when making a choice. You have the right to know and understand the decisions you are making. It is always important to ask questions so you feel confident in your choices. Always ask what the benefits and risks of an intervention are. Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Are there any other options? What are the risks and benefits of those options? Ask if you have time to think about the decision before rushing into it. What are your maternal/parental insticts telling you about your decision? Evaluate the pros and cons of each choice. Then make the choice that you think best fits the needs of your family.

Following these six steps won't guarantee the birth you've always dreamed of

. But, they will definitely lead to a a more successful and positive birth expierence. Congratulations again, and best of luck with your natural birth.

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