Inside: Wondering how to mentally prepare for labor? Get 5 top tips from a mom who delivered her baby 100% naturally. Every pregnant woman can benefit from these tips – whether you want to labor naturally or with medication.
You want to prepare mentally for birth because you want to do it well…and well, because you kind of have to do it. You’re pregnant, and now there’s not much getting you out of bringing that baby into the world.
Facing birth in all its uncertainty is inevitable.
I suppose you could request a c-section, but there aren’t many very physicians willing to do elective c-sections these days.
You’re afraid of the pain of childbirth, but you don’t want to be. Even if you plan on using medication or getting an epidural, you’re still worried about actually pushing that baby out.
And that’s a completely normal fear. But it can be overcome.
I know because I did it.
Today, I’m going to let you in on the top tips that took me from a scared-to-give birth first-time mom to a natural birthing goddess. This is exactly what I did to ditch the fear and to mentally prepare for birth, in all its messy, painful, beautifulness.
And you can get there, too.
I am in no way a medical professional. The advice on this blog is to be viewed as opinion only and NOT to be used in place of a medical professional. Please – consult your medical provider for any and all health needs or questions.
Prepare for a Natural Birth (even if you plan on an epidural)
Even if you are dead set on using medication or an epidural to manage your pain during labor, you might not have that option.
You might get to the hospital too late to get an epidural, or your body might not tolerate the various medication options.
And you don’t want to lose your sh*t if that happens. You want to feel completely prepared for what might be your worst-case scenario.
That’s why I wholeheartedly recommend preparing for labor as though you are going to do it all naturally.
That way you can be fully prepared and have fully dealt with your fears around labor and delivery before you’re in a situation you didn’t plan on.
Because if childbirth is anything, it’s unpredictable.
You can’t control it. You can make a birth plan all you want, girl.
But if that baby doesn’t want to come in twelve and a half hours (or 15 or 24), that baby ain’t comin’.
The Best Tips to Mentally Prepare for Labor
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1. Read positive, natural childbirth stories.
That’s why I strongly recommend to first-time moms to mentally prepare for birth as though they are going to have an unmedicated, natural childbirth.
I’m usually a “fake it til you make it” type of person. Most of the time that works out alright for me.
But with natural birth? Not a chance. You can’t just fake that you feel confident about birthing naturally!
Are you scared senseless thinking about childbirth like I was? I wasn’t actually scared of giving birth until I started talking with other moms.
Their stories and the way they talked about their birth experience is what lead to my birth fears.
“You’re going natural? Ha! Good luck with that.”
“Why would you want to feel birth? Get an epidural. You’ll thank me later!”
“Your baby is measuring big? You should go ahead and schedule a c-section. I had a third degree tear with my baby. My vagina looks like it was the setting of World War III.”
I think this is where many of our birth-related fears and the dread of birthing comes from.
Movies don’t help either! All that I had ever seen or heard was that birth is a bloody, screaming, cussing event that makes you lose your mind (and your precious lady bits). Yikes!
Then, I started reading birth stories of women online who had natural births.
I watched videos of women peacefully birthing their babies. Seeing pictures of mothers in labor with their husbands by their side supporting them inspired me.
Screaming and cussing turned into productive groaning while they brought their babies into the world.
There was blood involved, because – hello, it’s birth, but it wasn’t scary. It was barely noticeable in the midst of the beautiful birthing mother’s strength.
But, wait. Where were their epidurals?
How were they doing this at home?
At first, when I’d watch the videos of moms catching their own babies, I felt panicked. Where is the doctor? How did she know when to push?
All the while, these mothers birthing naturally inspired me. Motivated me. Encouraged me.
I could do this!
Here are several videos that will encourage you about natural birth:
- Birth Like A Boss HYPNOBIRTHING Class
- The Three R’s & Slow Breathing
- The Essence of Coping in Labor
- Why It’s Important to Use Your Brain [in childbirth]
- Why Don’t You Need to Push When Giving Birth
- Why Birth Doesn’t Have to Be Painful
- How Not to Feel Frightened About Giving Birth
2. Change how you think about labor.
Birth is not a big deal.
There. I said it.
Birth is a normal event that our bodies are designed to do. It is not a medical procedure that happens to us; it is a natural and common thing that many women all over the world are experiencing every day.
- at home with midwives
- in hospitals with doctors
- alone in the woods
- in cars
- on boats
- with a doula or birth partner
- in water
It’s simple. Birth just happens.
For centuries, women have birthed naturally.
For many more years, women will birth naturally. Because – it is a natural and normal event that our body is designed to do.
Now, with that said. There is wisdom in preparing to birth which is why you’re here. You wouldn’t show up to a triathlon and just wing it. For many months, you would train for it, both mentally and physically.
Moreover, you wouldn’t show up to the triathlon registration thinking, I’ll go as far as I can then I’ll text someone to come pick me up. No! You’d train to the best of your ability to absolutely crush it.
It’s the same with natural birth. If you want to birth naturally, you simply cannot go into it thinking you’ll “try” to avoid the unwanted.
You have to commit. Commit to staring that pain in the face and letting out your war cry.
Side Note: To keep going with our analogy here – suppose during the triathlon, you fell and twisted your ankle and couldn’t finish the race.
You might feel discouraged but you wouldn’t deem yourself (or your body) as a failure. In that case, you would allow others to come alongside you and help you. That is exactly what you should keep in mind during natural birth.
As much as you might want to just grit your teeth and get’er done, sometimes you can’t. And that is okay!
No one would shame the athlete for having to stop the race because of medical necessity. Just like, no one (including yourself) should shame you for needing to change the course of your birth.
3. Stop scaring yourself.
“Tips For Surviving Unmedicated Childbirth”… no, no, no!
One more for good measure. NO.
The article I’m referencing actually has excellent advice for moms that are wanting to birth naturally but the verbage in some areas of the post (and the title) are scary!
Reading this kind of outlook on birth and absorbing this attitude towards unmedicated birth is not beneficial. You’re basically telling your brain (and body) that birth is something to survive.
Like, survive through a near death experience. Survive actually means to continue to live or exist in spite of danger or hardship.
I fell into this trap myself.
Our baby was measuring big on ultrasounds… and I was terrified to tear during delivery. (But, who isn’t?) So, here we have the perfect storm.
Oh yea, you know. My baby is huge and I’m probably going to have terrible tearing because I’m lucky like that. I’d say things like that with a chuckle – trying to make light out of the tragedy that I thought was waiting for me.
When people would ask when I was due, I would tell them then immediately follow up with a quick, please keep me in your prayers because my baby is measuring really big. Lord, help me!
I started realizing that I was getting more afraid of birth. And I was the reason!
Cut. The. Crap. Whether you believe it or not, you are scaring yourself.
Oh, and by the way, my baby was not even 8lbs and I ended up with only a couple stitches. Ultrasounds can be off by a few pounds in either direction.
Good thing I didn’t panic and give up on my birthing dreams!
4. Fill your mind with positive thoughts about labor.
Now that you’ve faced your birth fears and crushed your negative thinking about birth, you are ready to flood your mind with positive thinking. Yay!
Liesel gives a great tip in the Birth It Up course to help you cope mentally with natural labor. It’s really the one thing that I held onto during my labor.
It’s only one day. (ok, maybe two)
This awful pain is only one day of your life. You can do it!
And, at that, the worst parts of labor only last about 15 seconds.
The peak of each contraction lasts about 10-20 seconds before slowly descending back to rest. Start giving yourself pep talks now – “I can do anything for 15 seconds!”
Find other birth affirmations that resonate with you and repeat them to yourself.
Some of my favorite affirmations:
- My baby is made perfectly for my body.
- I am healthy and strong.
- Relax. Release. Rest.
- My baby and body are safe.
- Each wave brings my baby closer to me.
- I relax my jaw. I quiet my mind. My body will open. My baby will come.
- My body is made to do this.
I am not a cussing woman but there was one birth affirmation that stuck with me. The tone behind this birth affirmation is motivating and stern. During some sections of labor, I needed grit rather than peaceful feelings to push on.
This affirmation fit the bill.
I ride the f*cking waves and stay focused on my breath.
The wave is coming regardless of whether you are ready or not, so get up and ride it!
Stay focused and determined to keep your head above the water as the wave swells then comes crashing down.
5. Take a natural childbirth class to mentally prepare for labor.
The #1 tip that I have for new moms that are wanting to prepare mentally for natural birth: take a natural childbirth class.
People fear what they don’t understand – knowledge is power!
Knowing exactly what is to come and how to deal with it will be the key to having the birth that you want. It’s much harder to be afraid of something after you know what’s to come.
I was petrified to birth naturally until I took a birth course.
Then, once I knew what was going to happen, I wasn’t nearly as scared to do it. Leading up to birth, I felt 95% excitement and 5% how-am-I-going-to-do-this.
After taking the course, I felt completely prepared for childbirth.
Was there still some fear? Sure. But it wasn’t crushing like before.
This course is written by a labor and delivery nurse that knows her stuff. Liesel Teen at mommylabornurse.com is passionate about helping women achieve their best birth possible through education.
She guides you through every aspect of labor and delivery. But, she doesn’t leave you there.
The course walks you through:
- basic anatomy
- your body’s changes leading up to labor
- the process of labor, start to finish
- pain control tips
- birth plans, doulas, and birthing naturally in a hospital
- after birth: breastfeeding, tearing, fundal massage, postpartum care
Unlike many other natural birth courses, Birth It Up gives details on epidural benefits and risks, VBACs, twin births, breech birth, and a few other special circumstances.
Going natural is 90% mental and 10% physical.
The fear of pain and of the unknown is the biggest thing that holds women back during childbirth. Thankfully, the best way to release your fears is through learning.
Birth It Up will give you the tools that you need to face your birthing fears and birth like a total boss.
As Liesel says, the course will help you gain the knowledge and confidence you need to have a natural birth- in less than a day!
I’ll leave you with this quote from a mom who took the course:
“I am currently 34 weeks pregnant with our third baby, and I only wish this course was available during my last two pregnancies!! My last epidural experience was not very good, so I really wanted a natural birth this time.Brooke, Expecting Mom and Prental/Postnatal Specialist
However, I knew I needed to be more mentally prepared.
As a prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist, I have always focused more on the physical preparation of labor and delivery. But trust me, the mental preparation for labor is extremely important!
Prior to taking this course, I was extremely nervous to try another natural birth.
Birth It Up has given me the confidence, tips and tools to enter this labor much more mentally prepared than both of my previous labors. I cannot recommend it enough!!!
Liesel is not only extremely knowledgeable, but she is also so motivating and supportive!
Whether this is your first pregnancy or not, I HIGHLY recommend taking this course to help you prepare for the big day!“
If You Decide to Pursue Natural Labor/Childbirth…
Whatever you decide during actual labor is 100% o.k. Don’t let ANYONE labor shame you afterwards for the decisions you make while you are accomplishing one of the most amazing feats: delivering a healthy baby.
If there’s a healthy baby and a healthy mama afterwards, the rest doesn’t matter. Really.
But if you decide to really go for preparing for natural childbirth, I have just the thing for you!
I created this Natural Birth Mega Pack with YOU in mind. It includes several 3×5 printable birth affirmations cards, natural birth tips, my own natural birth story and more.
You’ve got this mama. You were made to birth this baby. You are going to ROCK labor and delivery.
P.S. Are you reading this and you’ve already been through labor?
How did YOU mentally prepare for labor? Share your best tips in the comments!
Kenzie lives with her husband and daughter in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She’s wrestled with infertility, survived a miscarriage, and is overjoyed to finally be a mama to her sweet baby girl she thought she’d never have. She especially loves helping moms who have had miscarriages find hope after loss.