Preparing for childbirth is like preparing for parenthood – you can’t truly prepare other than to learn all you can and then take each moment of the experience as it comes. However, there is something to be said for the way information, the right healthcare provider, a comprehensive birth plan, and some exposure to optional coping and support strategies.
Hence, we’ve created this list of 7 helpful tips for childbirth – along with clickable links – to learn more information about each one.
1. Find the best healthcare provider for your prenatal care, labor, delivery, and postnatal care
We don’t mean “best” in terms of the one with the most initials behind his/her name. We mean the best, qualified healthcare provider whom you feel comfortable with. This means you feel seen, heard, and safe during visits. They take time to get to know you, explore concerns with you, and always support your personal choices, even if they differ from the caregivers’ professional preferences.
The person you’ve used for annual wellness visits may turn out to be just fine in that capacity, but you may realize you want someone new to facilitate your pregnancy and birthing journey. That’s okay! Your trust and faith in prenatal and labor support, your total physical-emotional wellbeing, are the priorities.
2. Keep upright and moving
Here’s another reason to find the right care provider. The typical labor/delivery m.o. for the 20th century was “get the mother in bed, and keep her monitored.” The problem is that this is not typically the best way to get the baby more positively engaged and descending down through the birth canal.
Seek a healthcare provider who is okay with you getting up and walking around, squatting, sitting on a yoga ball, or rocking on all 4s – whatever it takes to keep you comfortable and to keep your labor progressing as it should. This recently viral post of the “opening of the back” phenomena is good proof of why laying down isn’t the best option unless you feel that it is.
3. Consider using a doula
Along those same lines, work with a healthcare provider who is on board with having your midwife, or your doula, involved in your prenatal care, labor, and delivery. These women provide invaluable support and often provide more continuous care outside of the typical OB/GYN office hours or emergency contact options.
4. Attend some type of birthing class (with your birth partner)
Whether you’ve never had a baby in the past, or this is your third, birthing classes are still beneficial. Firstly, you learn something(s) new every time. Also, every labor and delivery is different, so refreshing yourself on the stages of labor, what is normal and what isn’t, and practicing the various soothing and coping strategies available to you can be just what you need to more comfortably (or at least present and uncomfortably) weather what you’re upcoming labor/delivery has to give you.
Does your schedule, or your partner’s, make it difficult to attend more regularly scheduled classes, learn more about online eChildbirth Classes available whenever you need them.
5. Create a birth plan
As we mentioned above, every labor and delivery is different, and it’s nearly impossible to create a step-by-step birth plan that is followed to the letter. Sometimes your body, the baby, or Mother Nature have other things in mind. However, the process of creating the birth plan, having a Plan B or Emergency Plan in place, and reviewing those repeatedly with your partner and healthcare provider helps to keep everyone on the same page in regards to your wishes and intentions.
6. Consider taking prenatal yoga classes
Prenatal yoga classes offer pregnancy, labor, delivery, and parenting gifts you’ll use for a lifetime. Things like balance, strength, flexibility, breathing practices, mindfulness – all will come in handy more times than you can imagine. Not to mention, those classes put you in close proximity to other pregnant women, giving you the opportunity to begin forming a parenting support network for yourself.
7. Try to keep fear on the backburner
It’s hard to embrace childbirth without a little bit of fear and anxiety. However, if you feel your fear or anxiety level is higher than normal, or more intense than you want to let on, find someone you trust and share your fear(s) with him/her. If your fear puts you in a flight/fight/freeze response, it can slow your labor down and make it more complicated for you. Releasing your fears and getting what you need to feel more safe and secure will help the process move forward.
The team here at Women’s Health Associates is an all-women, for-women team of qualified and compassionate healthcare providers. We look forward to working with you so you are as prepared for childbirth as possible. Contact us to learn more about our practice, values, and approach to whole-woman healthcare.