A good friend of mine Erika is nearing her due date with her first baby, planning a hospital birth with a nurse-midwife, and intending to give natural childbirth a try if all goes well. She writes, "If any of you have suggestions about how to weather natural childbirth, the unpredictabilities of childbirth generally, and pain specifically, I'm all ears and would greatly appreciate anything you have to share."
I LOVE natural childbirth and think it's beautiful, of course when attempted in a totally safe environment under uncomplicated conditions. To keep this short and leave you enough time to comment here for Erika and to read MaryAlice's wonderful post about homeschooling, I'll share that I think the key for me is:
Do not be afraid. (Yes, this happens to be a theme of Christianity too, but I'm not about to say it's more Christian to birth naturally or anything...)
A downside of hospital births, which often are so controlled and filled with interventions from the get-go, is that they make the laboring mother afraid and uncomfortable. If you're laboring in a safe environment where nurses are monitoring the baby's health, your main goal should be to relax and try to be as peaceful as you can in the moment. I can't think negative thoughts about how much worse it may get or how I'm going to push the baby out once I'm dilated. Your body will take care of that. Try as hard as you can to concentrate, relax and be unafraid. What I have found is that my body never gives me more than I can handle until right at the end, then it's over and the heavens open as you meet your baby!! In unmedicated births (I think this is different with Pitocin), my body takes me through the stages of labor at just the level of pain I can tolerate, no more and no less.
Each moment of labor is an accomplishment. Be not afraid!
Good luck and a most heartfelt God bless to all you who are about to meet your precious newborns!! So happy for you already...