Re: hoping to have a natural birth...what materials should I look into?
I took a hypnobirthing class and used it with my first baby (October 15th, 2012). It was amazing. It really helped me to focus and concentrate and deal with the pain, that was quite manageable with these techniques. It also helped that I waited to go the hospital until I was about 4 minutes a part too, so the hospital did not have time to encourage me to do anything else. It is essential your husband, partner, or someone who will be with you at birth attend this class. They will help serve as your advocates in the hospital, help you do the hypnobirthing techniques.
You will want some time to practice the techniques after the class. I had an extremely quick labor...between labor pains starting and my son being birthed was only a short 4 hours.
In preparation for the birth I spoke with my doctors and let them know that I was interested in a natural birth and that these were the things I was looking for, modifying the birth preferences sheet I received from the hypnobirthing technique. If I had been in labor longer, I would have definitely planned to use a birthing tub or shower which I hear is a really good natural child birth pain management technique. My doctor wouldn't let me give birth in the tub, but would let me labor in it. I also had to discuss with them about wanting to walk around and use different positions. They were not use to this, but willing to give it a try as long as it did not hurt the baby or me.
I also was doing a weekly pre-natal yoga class, which I think really helped my flexibility and strength to prepare for labor. My doctor and nurses, said they were absolutely amazed at my labor, never seen a natural child birth quite so focused and quiet. It wasn't pain free for sure, but definitely manageable with these techniques. It obviously helped big time, that I had a short labor.