Picture it… you’re newly pregnant, watching a movie about someone who’s going to have a baby. The happy couple is going about their business. Maybe they’re shopping, out for a walk, riding in a taxi. All of a sudden, her water breaks in a puddle on the floor! A minute later, Dad is in a panic, looking for their go bag and Mom is telling him to hurry up! They rush to the hospital. There’s lots of yelling, name calling, bright lights, hospital gowns, and broken fingers.
This picture of a sudden, rushed birth might be the experience of some people, but it’s certainly not the ONLY type of birth experience!
Every birth is unique to the birther and baby experiencing it. Some labors are slow and smooth. They ebb and flow with a steady rhythm. Others begin slowly and get moving with a surprising speed that surprises even the most experienced L & D nurses. And sometimes birth needs help. It rests and eases just when we want it pick up speed. Sometimes needing help means medical intervention and other times it means the body and mind need to rest, need to adjust, need to move or reset.
The most powerful tool you can give yourself is Education. When you are educated about your choices, the benefits and risks, the reasons for them and whether they are right for you, you become an active participant in your birth experience rather than a patient, or a client, or a chart. You, the birthing family become the center of the experience. You spent your pregnancy learning, researching, and building confidence in your ability to make the right choices so that, when the time comes, you feel confident and calm. You make decisions that are right for you, your baby and your family. When a decision is difficult to make, you ask the right questions so that your choice is based in knowledge and not in fear.
What can you do to take control of your birth experience?
Read books that align with your lifestyle, and those that don’t. Maybe you’ve gone through your adult life always thinking you’d get the epidural, or maybe you didn’t. Either way you’ll want to know all about it because sometimes an all natural mama wants a little help and sometimes a birther who always thought they’d get one finds a power inside themself they never knew was there. Read evidence based articles and avoid the anecdotal stories that could shake your confidence. Read about how to help yourself physically, but also mentally and emotionally because birth is a marathon, and any marathon runner will tell you that training your mind is as important as training your body.
Take a Birthing Class
Find a birthing class that teaches more than just breathing exercises. You’ll want to learn all about how your brain, your body and your baby all work together in a beautiful synchronous dance. You’ll also want to learn that sometimes things are not what we envision, but that doesn’t mean that they are out of your control. Even when special circumstances arise, you still have choices. Birthing classes range from basic, bare bones, “what to expect at the hospital,” to in-depth, hands-on, hypnosis and relaxation heavy. Find one that will help you feel ready to welcome your baby with confidence.
Write Out Your Birth Preferences
Notice I didn’t say “Birth Plan.” Using the term “Birth Plan” implies that your labor and birth will go exactly as wrote in it, when the real purpose of going through your options is to LEARN what they are! When you write out your Birth Preferences, go through each option carefully. Research it and learn about it and ask yourself what is the right choice for you. There will be choices to learn about for all-natural births at home among the flowers and the fairies, and choices to make about planned and unplanned belly-births. Did you know you can have a “gentle cesarean?” Like I said, the purpose of this document is not to “plan” your birth, but to educate yourself so that you feel comfortable, calm and safe.
Hire a Doula
A birth doula is many things. A birth partner. A teacher. A listening ear and a keeper of safe space. They are there to support, advocate, and provide physical comfort and emotional calm when you need it. They can help you find other professionals to work with you such as postpartum doulas, chiropractors specializing in the care of pregnant people and babies, or alternative care providers, should you wish to find someone new. Doulas do not take the place of spouses or partners, but are there to support the family as a whole. The role of a doula is not to make decisions for you, or tell you what to do, rather they help you ask care providers the right questions, provide evidence based information and help you tune in to your own intuition. Families who hire a doula often come out of their birth experiences feeling empowered and confident in the choices they’ve made.
There is a shift happening in the birthing community, putting power, choice, and autonomy back into the hands of the birthing family. Be a part of this shift by surrounding yourself with people who will educate you, support you and show you that you have the power to have a positive and peaceful birth!