Most women anticipate labour and birth with a mix of excitement, and fear—of all the unknown and loss of control. In the face of that kind of vulnerability, it is good to have a plan, a vision of the outcome you want and then begin taking steps to get there.
Actively preparing with easy, practical measures will lead to a birth experience that is satisfying and empowering. No client of ours ever told us “I did too much to prepare for my birth.” That is why we are happy to suggest these five steps to the birth of your dreams!
1) Choose online prenatal education or yoga classes that reflect your vision of an ideal birth.
A virtual gathering with other pregnant women in online classes that discuss pregnancy, labour and birth will help you to find support and community in which to make your choices, share ideas, and learn together.
I also lead virtual Regina Hospital tours, allowing you to become accustomed to the setting in which your birth will unfold. Attending these classes is your start to finding your tribe and building vital connections that will help you thrive in the postpartum.
2) Create your circle of support and birth-power
Take a clear-eyed look at the others on your support team. Partners sometimes feel pressured to perform and provide a level of physical and psychological support that may exceed their capacities. Many times it feels unfair to expect them to take on such a new role all on their own.
What do they need to feel supported? What things can you both do in the prenatal time? Have they talked to other non-birthing partners? Birth is a shared experience so both of you need to be mindful of what you need and communicate your expectations.
If a friend or relative is invited, are they experienced, will they add calm or stress to your birth, will they come at any time and stay as long as needed? Have you invited them or did they invite themselves? You get to decide. Birth is not a spectator sport – as the birthing woman you get to choose.
If you’re a solo parent-to-be, consider inviting someone who brings you comfort. Any person coming to the birth should attend prenatal education classes with the mother. They should be familiar with the birth setting, the protocols there, their own availability and the ability to be a helpful presence, not a distraction.
3) Hire a Doula
It is hard to navigate all the decisions you will be faced in pregnancy, labour and birth. Why do it alone?
Professional doulas support the birthing woman and her labour team members. Women who have doula support have half the rates of cesarean births as those without. They also have significantly shorter labours, request pain meds at far lower rates (less than half as often), and experience significantly fewer interventions.
Doulas are experts in comfort measures and also great information resources. Whether it is a simple question or a complex decision, your doula is there to help you through every choice you make. Partners do more when there is a doula on their team!
Plus – doulas make the process fun! We are trained to smooth out the edges, show you the ropes and be your birth sherpas! Contact me for more information!
4) Make an effective birth plan that works for you instead of against you
There are many options for labour and birth, but many people don’t know they can do some research, ask some questions and design their birth their way. It is important to know what to expect from your time in the hospital (or home if that is your choice); it is important to be informed and prepared.
There are many things you can control in the face of the vulnerability of labour and birth.
We all want to feel safe first. For our babies to be born in a cocoon of safety. And then we are allowed to want other things as well.
You are allowed and encouraged to dream big and envision the birth of your dreams, not just a birth that is safe, not just the birth you dread.
- What makes you feel safe?
- What stresses you out?
- What do you need?
- What would you love to happen?
- Quiet respectful space to labour in?
- A less clinical feel to the room?
- A more clinical and monitored space? So you know both you and baby are ok.
- Want to catch your baby?
- Keep the cord?
- Use your own playlist to create the vibe?
- Wear your own clothes?
- Use your own pillow?
- Labour in whatever position is most comfortable to you?
- Birth in the posture of your choice?
Your plan should use positive language, including things that are unique and important to you. Including the things that are essential for you.
5) Find and Practise tools to manage the intensity of labour
Whether your labour is a sprint, a marathon or a surgical experience – many women describe birth as hard work.
There are things you can do to manage this intensity! Whether you plan to labour naturally or to use an epidural to support your experience, taking the time to strategize what tools might work for you – and practice the skills while you are pregnant is essential.
Be your sensuous self and amplify your senses to distract or soothe yourself – sight, sound, smell, touch!
Mindfulness, yoga, meditation, sound/music, and visualizations/affirmations are valuable tools. Hypnobirthing is a system many women find helpful. As are hynotherapy sessions with a trained therapist. Ask me for suggestions.
Control, control, control! Find things that you can control and control the heck out of them!
Looking for more information on your upcoming birth? Interested in taking one of 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.