Many pregnant people look forward to their upcoming labour and birth with both excitement and apprehension. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be scary. As we shared in a recent blog post, once you have a plan, a vision of the outcome you want and begin taking steps to get there, all the unknown and loss of control starts to fade away.
To help you continue preparing for a birth experience that is satisfying and empowering, here are five more steps to the birth of your dreams!
6) Care for yourself and your baby
Take care of your general health as best as you can; this is proven to support better birth outcomes and it is another thing you can control. Healthy foods in as close to their natural state as possible, proper hydration (find a fun water bottle to carry around and refill), pregnancy teas, all help to build a healthy baby. (Note: obviously if you are dealing with extreme nausea that does not allow you control over what you eat and whether or not it stays down, skip to Step 7.)
Gentle physical exercise, particularly yoga, helps prepare women for birth and a faster recovery. FInd an online class that you like. Go for walks.
Ensure your non-physical self is healthy too. What nourishes your spirit and soul? Time alone? Time with others? Time to create? Time to nest?
I wish you ease and grace in caring for yourself during your pregnancy.
7) Choose the primary care-provider for your pregnancy and birth
Depending on where you live you might have lots of choices or limited choices in this area.
In Regina we have some midwives, but not enough. Some family doctors that also catch babies. One birth centre in a near-by community. Lots of over-worked Ob/Gyns (IMO) too.
Do the best you can to chose someone whose values align with yours. Midwives are often the first choice for women who plan natural births, and they attend both home and hospital births. If there are in short supply, then call the office early to get on the wait list.
Family doctors who attend births are a great option for a healthy woman who doesn’t need the high-risk expertise of an obstetrician. Most family doctors in our area care for women for most of their pregnancy and then transfer care to another family doc or an obstetrician.
Obstetricians are highly skilled for women with known health issues or who are at increased risk of complications but they catch most of the babies in our area and are the most common option here.
8) Be aware of your stress triggers
What irritates or stresses you now can be a big clue to what might create or adds stress during your birth?
That varies with everyone and you are the only one who gets to decide on this. For some women it is noise, or smells, or chatter, or lack of information; for others it’s lack of modesty or privacy. Someone who is in the room who irritates you; someone you wish was there with you and isn’t.
Figure out what causes you stress and do everything you can to plan ahead so you can eliminate that possibility or at least minimize its effect.
9) Maximize comfort in your pregnancy and plan to be comfortable in labour
What brings you comfort? Think of your five senses. We are sensual beings!
Do you prefer to see dim or bright lights, hear silence, medical sounds, or music of your choice? How would you like to be touched, if at all?
Practice getting effective massage and counter-pressure. Reduce internal exams during labour is possible. Wear clothes that you chose for comfort and the level of modesty that suits you.
What do you wish to smell (hint – birth companions: pack a toothbrush)? Research helpful and appropriate aromatherapy oils to use at home. Take your own pillow so you can that comfortable smell and feel.
What kind of drink would you like to taste during your birth? What foods can you enjoy during labour or afterwards? What feast can you plan to celebrate the birth!
Comfort is only possible if we first feel safe and supported so review those essentials and get things in place so you can feel secure.
10) Bring joy, fun and calm into your birth
What makes you laugh?
What calms you down?
What do you enjoy?
Remember you can laugh, be loud, be silent; you can dance, move about, wear clothing in which you feel comfortable or beautiful, get snuggly with your partner, be in the dark, enjoy sunlight, create a big personal-space bubble in the bathtub or birth pool, watch a funny movie in early labour, walk in the fresh air, have a nap.
In my thirty years as a doula I have encouraged clients first to nap and stay well fed and hydrated, and then to do something nurturing or even mischievous – make out, go for a walk to get a tea or take-out treat, take some last-day-of-pregnancy photos, meet up with friends and have contractions while you visit. Make some banana bread for later – maybe it will still be warm when you are holding your baby. (True story.)
Respect your introvert or extrovert needs and explore the possibilities!
Know of other steps you would recommend to someone preparing for an upcoming birth? Want to know more about my online prenatal classes or in need of birth support? Please contact me!
Article written by my wise friend and work-partner, Karen Herriot – Master Doula, Doula Trainer, Yoga Teacher.