Some of the most commonly asked questions from you all are my recommendations when preparing for a natural birth. Here are my favorite things from my last two home births — books, must-haves, music recommendations, mantras, oils, padsicle recipe — you name it, my exhaustive list! All in one place.
First things first: I recommend interviewing midwives and doulas. If you’re local to me, I love mine!
Midwife: Ruth Cobb
Doula: Emily Landry
When you sit down with a midwife or doula, ask your tough questions! Bring your partner with you to the interviews if they have questions too. The best way to calm your nerves is by empowering yourself with information. Things are always scary when they’re unknown. Once you hear the statistics on birth center or home birth as they compare to American hospital births… well, let’s just say it becomes a whole lot less scary!
Things to ask (to get you started):
-How many babies have you delivered?
-What are your credentials?
-What do you bring with you to a birth?
-What is your hospital transfer rate?
-What do you do in the event of ____? (Cord around neck, shoulder dystocia, etc)
Also collect reviews from other mamas who have used that midwife/doula. Join some natural birth groups on Facebook and get to chatting! (Bonus: There’s a lot of birth stories to read in those groups, and I don’t know about you, but those “I did it!” posts are always SO encouraging to me. If she can do it, I can do it!)
My next “must” recommendation is to read/watch the following:
–Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
–Mama Natural’s Guide to Pregnancy
-The Business of Being Born (documentary)
–The Complete Book of Breastfeeding
The beauty of pregnancy is that it takes awhile! You have LOTS of time to read up on the important things. Be sure to use that time! Yes, it’s fun to spend hours pinning nursery decor and picking out the best of the best baby gear, but remember what is the most important, and make sure you’re preparing in those areas too. Things like using water as natural pain relief and choosing who your birth team will be… and then of course, things like delayed cord clamping, breastfeeding, circumcision, vaccines… you have been given this chunk of time to do your homework, so get your learn on, mama!
Remember, things seem scary when you don’t have the information, so don’t want until the heat of the moment to be faced with a decision that really matters. Educate and prepare, and you’ll be firm in your decisions!
Let’s talk about physical things to have on hand when your big day comes!
Here are some things I’m glad I had on hand at my home births:
Birth pool – I love this one! Cup holders and a seat? Yes please. You can also use it multiple times or lend it to friends, just buy a new liner for each birth. 4 babies already have been born in my pool… I love it!
Affirmation cards – These are great. So are these.
Essential oils – Specifically Clary Sage, Frankincense, Gratitude, and Surrender. I only trust and use Young Living oils on my body (especially during pregnancy) and for my family. Here is more info on that and how you can grab a Young Living starter kit.
Ningxia bomb – This is a combination of Ningxia Red (highest antioxidants of any drink on the market in the world… look up the benefits of the goji berry), and Ningxia Zyng (bubbly natural energy)! I drank these nonstop during birth for energy and nutrients. (If you’re not sure what the heck I’m talking about, you need a YL membership… click here!) Ningxia is something everyone should be drinking, but especially while pregnant, and especially during something as physically taxing as labor!
AfterEase – Herbal tincture to help with the after birth contractions. File those under things no one tells you about 😉 Grab it here.
I also had a playlist on my phone for each of my births. Here’s my most recent playlist for Acre’s birth. Some of the songs are more specific to our situation and might not apply to you, and that’s okay. Pick music that will get you in the best mindset.
I Get to Love You – Ruelle
Lost in the Moment – Josh Putnam
Find You Here – Ellie Holcomb
Rescue – Lauren Daigle
Sing on the Battlefield – Kathryn Scott
Reason to Sing – All Sons & Daughters
Hills and Valleys (Valleys version) – Tauren Wells
Known – Tauren Wells
So Will I – Hillsong United
Reckless Love – Cory Asbury
Overwhelmed – Big Daddy Weave
Called Me Higher – All Sons & Daughters
Some more good ones:
Oceans – Hillsong
Good Good Father – Chris Tomlin
Came to my Rescue (live) – Hillsong
Holy Spirit – Francesca Battistelli
Beautiful Things – Gungor
Once in a Lifetime – Landon Austin
Also on my phone, I kept a list of mantras to repeat to myself when things got tough. I chose things that made me feel powerful and got my mind in the right place. These are things you can say out loud, say in your head, or have your birth team say to you. Here’s my list… yours could be completely different!
“You are being so good to this baby.”
“Respect the process.”
“300,000 women are giving birth with me today.”
“I can’t do this, but God YOU can.”
“Do I believe God will give me what I need to make it through this contraction?”
“Breathe peace in, breathe fear out.”
“When I get a negative thought, I will remind the author of that thought that I am saved.”
“Jesus suffered on the cross ‘for the JOY set before him.’ I will join in the fellowship of that suffering, which lasts only a short time, for the JOY of this child.”
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
“How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.”
During transition: “This is the hardest it’s going to get.”
“Breathe oxygen slowly and deeply down to my baby.”
After contraction: “That felt so productive!”
“Pain is temporary, Acre Brooks is forever.”
“I am so blessed to carry and birth this baby.”
After birth, the most soothing thing ever are “padsicles” (pad popsicles). Here’s how to make them. You’ll want to prep them in advance and have them in your freezer.
Take a pack of pads (these are my favorite… thick, nontoxic, and no annoying wings or anything to mess with). I wear straight up adult diapers for a few days after birth, and I stick a padsicle right in in there. No shame, mamas. No shame. Anyways, take the pads and wet them with witch hazel. Add a couple drops of lavender and tea tree oil, then pop into the freezer! Pro tip: You can also add the witch hazel & oils to a peri bottle and spray your lady garden every time you go to the bathroom. It is HEAVEN, friends. Heaven. And it speeds up healing so, so much. I keep the peri bottle, witch hazel, and oils right by my bathroom sink. On my way to the toilet, I fill er up with all 3 ingredients (I make my water pretty hot). Thank me later!
I hope this is helpful!
Remember… “There’s a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” You are a force to be reckoned with, mama, and your body was beautifully made. I am rooting for you to be empowered and respected through your birthgiving journey, no matter what type of birth you have, and sending you so much love as you prepare!