I’ve known I wanted a natural birth since before I was pregnant. Reading up on all the information and seeing what birth could be like for me was really exciting and empowering, especially since I have never liked the hospital environment. Over the years my husband and I have educated ourselves on all there is to know and we really found ourselves in strong agreement about natural birth and home birth and we knew that this is how we would want to bring a child into the world.
Since I became pregnant, I have made sure to do all of the things I wanted to do to have a happy, healthy pregnancy. I cleaned my body through eating well and building up my nutrient stores, detoxing, and exercising regularly for a year prior (probably longer, for general health) and balanced my hormones. This was extremely helpful once I became pregnant, because I had no morning sickness, cravings, or any other symptoms that people tend to associate as ‘negative’ throughout their pregnancy. Honestly, I’ve had an amazing time and I really can’t complain. Naturally, there were days when I didn’t want to go for that walk or days when I wanted a pizza. No biggie, because my body was a strong, efficient machine. Even towards the end of my pregnancy my activity levels had to die down as the baby got heavier and it became more difficult to scale mountains. My midwives even had to tell me to ‘do less’ because my abs were tight from all the yoga I had done prior to pregnancy and tight muscles could make less room for baby to turn into the correct position. However, overall, I’m really proud of the way I handled my pregnancy and of the support from my partner. We definitely put our best foot forward and it’s showed throughout my entire pregnancy. Happy healthy momma, happy healthy baby!
Now we are counting down the days until baby gets here and we have been spending a lot of time thinking about and preparing for our home birth over these last few months. Who knows what we will end up using and not using in the end, however here are the things we have found essential to have on hand one way or the other. Whether you birth naturally in the hospital, birth center, or at home, here is what we have prepared for our birth.
14 Must Haves For A Natural Birth
1. Essential Oils
Most essential oils can be used in forms of aromatherapy, ingestion (only certain quality), or applied topically, and should be diluted with a carrier oil and should always be tested on the bottom of your foot before heavy application to avoid any allergic reaction. I use essential oils daily and have for years, and I’ve found them to be wonderful for uplifting, healing, disinfecting, and so on. After some research, I have picked Clary Sage, Chamomile, Lavender, Peppermint for my birth. Clary Sage is amazing for picking up stalled birth, as well as relieving pain. Rubbing Clary Sage on your lower back or uterus can help get things moving along by strengthen contractions and helping dilation progress. Roman Chamomile is great for relieving pain of any sort just by diluting and applying to affected area. Roman Chamomile can also ease tension and anxiety, and is even great for application in sitz baths or postpartum pads as it helps relieve pain and aids in healing. Lavender does well to relieve tension and anxiety and promote a sense of peace and well-being. Like Roman Chamomile, Lavender is an antiseptic and an antibiotic. Lavender helps prevent early labor if diluted and rubbed on ankles or uterus. Lastly, I always have Peppermint around in case of nausea, insect bites, for my teeth, etc. In labor, Peppermint helps with nausea, stalled urination after or during birth by putting a drop in the toilet, and an energy boost if you need one simply by inhaling it.
2. Birth Tub and Nontoxic Liner
There are so many tubs out there and liners to match. Which do you go with? My midwife recommended the Aqua Doula since it regulates its own water temperature. However Aqua Doula didn’t seem to have the nontoxic liners we wanted, as plastic leeches into warm water, and so we went with another brand.
This stuff is just great to have around whether you use it or not. Towels are always good for catching and wiping off baby, as you probably don’t want to catch them in that fancy blanket it took you a month to crochet if baby is all gooey with vernix and other miscellaneous birth gunk. They’re also great for you if you plan on getting in the water at any point. A nonexpensive blanket is great for both you and baby as it will keep you both warm and cozy after labor, and sometimes it feels nice to be bundled in something fuzzy after a tremendous physical effort, especially if you get the chilly shakes. Sheets that you can throw away are great if you end up laboring on the bed, but I suggest a disposable liner underneath, which I mentioned below.
4. Arnica Gel
I use this stuff for any achy or stiff joints, and during labor it helps with that as well as pain relief. The gel can be applied to the back and absorbs quickly into your body for pain relief when you need it. I bought Boiron brand Arnica gel at Whole Foods, you can get it on Amazon here.
5. Energy Boosting Snacks
I thought a lot about this since I truly believe that food sustains you. I have never liked that hospitals don’t let you eat or drink during labor in case of c-section and I’m really looking forward to upkeeping my strength during labor with really nutrition things to keep me going. However labor is tricky and you never know what food you may or may not want near you when you are in birth mode. However, some of the snacks I decided to have on hand are nut butter, wild honey sticks and raw honey, chia juice packs, protein bars, raw coconut water, watermelon, fruit, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, fruit popsicles, and probiotic pickles. When choosing snacks for labor, make sure they are low in processed sugar, and high in nutrients that will support your strength long term instead of burning out quickly. Snacks that pack a nutritional punch in small doses are the best because you probably won’t feel great laboring on a full stomach, much less burning out from a sugar crash after fifteen minutes. Needless to say, filtered water is a must throughout labor, and if you have a juicer you can make healthy homemade juices to keep you going as well. I plan to!
6. Disposable Floor and Bed Liner
If you end up laboring on the floor, in a pool, or on your bed, you’ll want to have disposable liners just in case to contain the mess and later throw it away. You’ll also need it to protect your mattress.
7. Birthing Ball
Birth balls are fantastic for pregnancy, labor, and postpartum as they are great for posture, keeping muscles loose and toned, for leaning on, and for bouncing baby to sleep or to calm down. You really can’t go wrong with one of these and I love using it daily to lean on to relax my belly muscles and make more room for baby. I can see myself using this a lot in labor. I looked all over for a nontoxic ball and found one that didn’t have great reviews, so I ordered this one in blue (75cm) on Amazon and let it air out before use. They promise that the ball is “made of eco-friendly, phthalates & latex free, non-toxic materials – safe for you & the environment!” I’ve enjoyed using it so far without any issues, other than having to reinflate it often.
8. Massage Oil or Lotion
If your body responds well to touch, a good massage oil or lotion can come in really handy during labor for pain relief or grounding. You can combine massage with essential oils for extra benefits. Your partner can use these to massage you into bliss, or if you have a doula they will most likely bring their own.
My lips are dry on a daily basis let alone during labor, so I know to have a good chapstick around. All that hard work can wear you out and the last thing you want while birthing is dry, cracked lips. So drink lots of water and keep chapstick handy! The current chapstick that I’m loving right now is Booda Butter Naked Lipbalm. It’s organic, vegan, cruelty-free, has super clean ingredients, and feels really nice on. Their products are sold on their site and you can buy their lipbalm here.
Sometimes music is very powerful and can have a profound affect on your state of being. You may need something calming, or a playlist of energizing songs, however either way I think a little background music can be very useful during a long labor. I paid a dollar for commercial-free Spotify for three months, and YouTube has plenty of relaxing music in multiple hour sets. I have a little speaker that connects to my phone via Bluetooth, and I think that’ll do just fine for me.
Candles can be great during the most active part of labor for you and for baby. For you, it can help you focus more on laboring than your surroundings and can really help you get into the birthing zone. Also, babies eyes are very sensitive at birth and bright lighting can be irritating and disturbing. Having candles and dim lighting can help their sensitive eyes adjust gently. I bought a couple sets of small candles (larger than tea lights) for each of the two rooms where I’ll most likely end up giving birth. Who knows where I’ll end up, and it’s good to have them within reach.
12. Birth Kit
Your midwife or doula may recommend where to get a birth kit, which will have all the necessities such as a peri bottle, gloves, cord rings, etc.
13. Postpartum Pads
Usually after birth you’ll need a heavy duty pad to keep yourself dry from the remainder or the afterbirth liquids that will leave your body. I found some organic cotton postpartum pads that will work great, because I want to stay away from plastics and bleaches that can irritate such a sensitive area. I ordered them here.
14. Comfortable Clothing
I bought some really comfy loose-leg pants with a stretchy band a while ago and I wear them a lot, and I ordered some simple sports bras for if I decide that I’m too warm or I just want to take my clothes off. I don’t mind being naked during labor, but I thought it would be nice to have something minimal in case I want it.
I would love to hear what your must have items are or were for your natural birth, so share them with me in the comments below!