Natural childbirth is slowly becoming the choice of birth for more and more women, especially in the United States. With this increase of interest, there has been much more information readily available on the Internet, in books and during childbirth classes. It may seem there is too much information out there, though. How do you sift through all of it? Here is a simple guide that will make you an expert in natural childbirth. By the time you have completed this seven-step process you will probably be able to answer all of your questions and those of your friends. Enjoy!

1. Find and read at least a year's back issues of natural birth magazines.

Magazines I recommend are:

Midwifery Today: This magazine can be extremely helpful. It is not free, but a great resource. They also have a great website.

Birthing: Again, this magazine is not free, but it is another great resource. It is full of birth stories. They also have many articles on their website, listed under birth.

Every Little Thing! Birth and Beyond 360: This magazine is free and a great resource. There are always birth stories and pregnancy/birth advice.

2. Find the books written by the old masters.
Books I recommend are "Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin, "Birthing Within" by Pam England and "Childbirth Without Fear" by Grantly Dick-Read and Ina May Gaskin.

3. Join groups or clubs/associations.
I suggest starting here:

La Leche League: A great international group where you can talk to other moms.

Just Mommies: This is a online forum and they also have birth stories and articles.

My Best Birth: This site includes forums, blogs and videos. They have created two great documentaries, “The Business of Being Born” and “More Business of Being Born.”

4. Take natural childbirth classes.
There are a variety of natural childbirth classes available and some are even available online or as a video series.

Happy Healthy Child (video series): "Learn from top OB/GYNs, midwives, pediatricians, scientists, childbirth educators, doulas and lactation specialists; eliminate underlying fears and anxieties; avoid unnecessary and unwanted interventions; feel confident and ready."

The Bradley Method: Focuses on husbands as coaches.

Hypnobirthing: By practicing a few key techniques, mothers program their minds and condition their bodies to birth easily. When it comes to programming and conditioning, variety is not necessarily a good thing. Repetition is what gets the best result.

Hypnobabies: Using hypnosis in pregnancy and childbirth. They also have an online community.

Giving Birth Naturally: "To provide online childbirth classes that actively teach the skills and techniques needed to ensure a comfortable, safe birth experience and smooth recovery, without the hassle or expense of traditional childbirth classes."

5. Talk to experts in the natural childbirth field.
Almost every person has a different approach to childbirth. A great way to learn more about childbirth is by interviewing experts, those who deliver babies and attend births. It is up to you to choose your healthcare provider, so take your time and interview many. As you receive many perspectives, you will should also feel a connection between one or more.

Ask your questions and take in all the knowledge you can! Many times this can be free if you have insurance. Also, many midwives and doulas offer a free consult. Be sure to interview more than one midwife, more than one doctor and several doulas.

6. Answer some of the ads you find in magazines and online.
Browsing the Internet, you may see many advertisements for different types of childbirth education. Answer the ads. Call them or write with your questions. This can be another free way to gather information about their services and teachings.

7. Use the library.
The library is a great free resource. You can browse books and the Internet all day long. What I used to do was order 10 library books at a time and have them delivered to my local branch. At home, I would browse through them at my leisure and learn so much about all the different styles of birth, different ways to prepare for birth, spiritual births, the way other cultures view birth and much more.

Wondering which step to start on? What do you enjoy the most? Magazines, books, movies, chat rooms, classes? Choose the method that resonates with you the most and once you feel you have learned everything you wanted to learn move to the next style of learning that interests you.

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This story was originally written by Kim Nelli and James Goodlatte, founders of Fit For Birth, for and is republished with permission here.
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