13 Must-Haves for a Natural Childbirth

Michele Zipp | Jul 7, 2014 Pregnancy

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When a woman finds out she is pregnant, there are so many things to learn and think about, from choosing a baby name to how to have the best birth experience possible. She arms herself with knowledge and figures out the best plan for her ... then she realizes that plan may deviate, so she fills her brain with more info and surrounds herself with the right people. That's where the experts come in. To fill the void between good intentions and perfect planning.

More from CafeMom: Preparing for a Natural Birth: 13 Important Things You Need

To have a natural birth, sometimes a mom needs a little help. There's no shame in being as best prepared as possible. I spoke with London King, doula and founder of Baby Caravan, and Samantha Huggins, doula and director at Carriage House Birth (both based in NYC), for their insight and tips on what should be a part of someone's natural birth kit. I also consulted with mother of three and natural birth advocate Nathalie Arruda, who recently home birthed baby number three. Here is their valued advice.

More from CafeMom: Photo of Ultra Rare Face-First Birth Has the Internet in Awe 

Take a look and decide if these helpful hints should be part of a good birth plan. They might just help in making the difference from having a stressful, uncomfortable pregnancy to ... well, it will be less of those two things. 

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  • Pillows

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    Image via Eyeliam/Flickr

    It may seem simple enough but there is nothing like your own pillow. Sam reminds moms-to-be to bring a pillow or pillows to the hospital if that is where you are birthing. She suggests using a dark pillow case to differentiate yours from the hospital pillows. Hospitals are always in pillow crisis, she shared, so bring your own so you can use the ones from the hospital for your legs and your own for your head.

  • Coconut water

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    Image via Iain Buchanan/Flickr

    Drink lots of water and coconut water and have plenty of flexible straws especially during labor, says Samantha. "Hydration is KEY and will help keep an IV out of your arm if that is important to you."

  • Red raspberry leaf tea

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    Image via A(heart)/Flickr

    London loves when moms-to-be drink red raspberry leaf tea -- hot or iced. It's not only delicious, it's an amazing uterine toner. Nathalie, who recently home birthed baby number three, shares that she drank red raspberry iced tea with honey and sea salt, "It's a great electrolyte drink and is fantastic during labor." 

  • Your birth plan

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    Image via waferboard/Flickr

    Instead of a birth plan, London prefers to call it a "birth wish list." "Labor should really be taken minute by minute," she explains, "and 'plan' sounds too confining to me." Mamas-to-be do not need a strict list to stress them out. Instead, write down your wishes to help you have a well-thought list of things you hope to follow to have the best birth. Know that things may change and know that you will be able to choose the best course.

  • Birthing ball

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    Image via Sonya Green/Flickr

    Many women love birthing balls. "They can be brought to most hospitals," Sam says, "but check with your care provider to be sure so you don't bring it along for nothing." Birthing balls can be used in many ways during labor and provide a great alternative for lying in bed. Being active sometimes helps labor along.

  • Music

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    Image courtesy Nathalie Arruda, by Erin Lynn White

    Music is like medicine for me, and I used it to meditate when having contractions. London loves this idea and she adds, "Don't just put chill music on your playlist; include your all-time favorite songs that get you pumped up too! Sometimes you need that extra energy that only your best fist pumping anthem can conjure up." Nathalie (pictured) agrees. She used headphones during labor to really get herself in the zone.

  • Essential oils

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    Image via Abdillah Wicaksono/Flickr

    Some women will love lavender oil to bring a little calm during pregnancy, and some like peppermint oil during labor for a boost of energy. London's favorite oil in labor is clary sage. "I rub it on the bottoms of moms' feet to bless their birthing path. It moves mountains ... or at least seems to help instigate stronger contractions and bring baby down." She reminds us to be sure there are no allergies to essential oils first.

  • Washcloths for cool and warm compresses

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    Image courtesy Samantha Huggins of Carriage House Birth

    Sam recommends using washcloths for cool and warm compresses. She also says to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a pick-me-up (peppermint) or to soothe (lavender).

  • Small battery-operated fan

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    Image via Gregory/Flickr

    Labor is exactly that -- labor. Sam suggests using a small battery-operated fan or a little paper hand fan. "A fan is key for while you are pushing," she says. "It's a lot of work!" A little cool air might be exactly what you need to keep going.

  • Lip balm

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    Image via Nina Nelson/Flickr

    It's important to stay hydrated during labor and that includes keeping your lips hydrated. "There is so much breath work involved in laboring and pushing," Sam says. "Be sure to have your lip balm handy."

  • Books and movies to inspire you

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    Image via Jorge Mejia peralta/Flickr

    Nathalie recommends The Business of Being Born. Watch it when you first find out you're pregnant and again in third trimester. "It's a fantastic documentary with great information," she says. "There is too much fear about childbirth in our country. It's not a disaster waiting to happen. Most of the time birth is perfectly normal and safe, but when we manage it like a medical emergency, in a way, we set ourselves up for emergencies to happen. The Business of Being Born explores the way we tend to manage normal birth like an emergency and why it's not the best practice."

    London's favorite is Orgasmic Birth -- she believes it is even more important to see. "It reinforces what is truly possible when you can let go," she says, adding, "you know, sexy in ... and sexy coming out."

  • An open mind

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    Image via Sean McGrath/Flickr

    "An open mind is crucial," London says. "I always say, 'You can't think a baby out.' Step outside yourself and really let go and just be soft. Ride the wave of labor and find the joy and peacefulness along the way."

  • A fantastic doula

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    Image courtesy Samantha Huggins of Carriage House Birth

    A doula is a birth partner, your advocate. My doula (London) taught me so much. I couldn't imagine birth without her support and knowledge and her magical ability to help me stay calm. Sam (pictured) adds, "A doula can really help normalize the birth process. She is also a great second pair of hands for your birth partner." Having a doula decreases your chances of having any unnecessary medical interventions.

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