After the initial excitement of a positive pregnancy test, you may be thinking about how to best prepare for the birth of your baby. Many people you meet and talk with may chime in with the overused phrase, “All that matters is a healthy mom and baby.” That saying is not 100% accurate though, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
While it is true that a healthy mom and baby are very important, this should not be used in reference only to their physical health—as it typically is—but to reference their emotional and mental health as well.
The experience you have when bringing your little one into the world is important for a variety of reasons. For example, traumatic birth experiences have been found to have possible links to such issues as colic, depression, and autism in infants, as well as PTSD and postpartum depression in mothers. Meanwhile, a peaceful birth environment, filled with a supportive birth team and a calming vibe, can provide mother and baby with the relaxing experience they both deserve during this crucial day in their lives.
Of course, we cannot control everything about our birthing experiences. Nature will take its course, and sometimes things do not go as we may have liked. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to ensure you have the best and most satisfying birth experience possible. Here are a few steps you may want to consider.
Find a Supportive OB or Midwife
Interview a plethora of caregivers before deciding which one you will use. Ask questions such as...
“What are your views on cesareans?”
“Do you regularly perform episiotomies?”
“How long do you believe a woman should labor without intervention?”
“How do you feel about clients that are pregnant past 40 weeks?”
...or any other questions that are important to you. Listen carefully for red-flag phrases such as, “You won’t be allowed” or “All that matters is a healthy baby.”
After interviewing all potential candidates, choose the one who seems to see eye-to-eye with you on most issues and makes you feel most comfortable. Never make do with a care provider you dislike for any reason.
Find the Right Environment
For many people the choosing of a birthing environment goes hand-in-hand with deciding on a provider. It is important to keep this in mind when interviewing doctors and midwives.
The right environment for your birth may not be what the next mother would choose. It is crucial that you consider all of your options and pick the place that makes you feel most comfortable. This could mean delivering in your own home where you know everything and everyone, or it could mean heading to the hospital where you know emergency help is very near.
Additional options for places to birth include (but aren't limited to) birth centers and the homes of friends and family.
Hire a Doula You Connect With
A doula is an important part of any birth team. A doula will support you throughout your labor and has plenty of tricks up her sleeve to relieve discomfort and help you feel heard.
When you are delivering in a hospital, a doula becomes even more important, and will be your advocate if medical staff members are having trouble understanding or carrying out your requests.
When choosing which doula is right for you, it's important to interview several and ask plenty of questions. Pick the doula you feel you best connect with, as she will be your best friend throughout your labor and delivery. Thrive Mama Collective in OKC offers several experienced doulas!
Make a Birth Plan
Do your research and decide exactly how you would like your birth to go. Write your birth plan down and share it with your entire birth team. If you will not be at home for the delivery, hang your birth plan on the door of your room in order to inform staff of your wishes.
While it may not be possible to follow your birth plan exactly, it is important to have a clear idea of what you want and communicate your wishes with your care providers so you can have the best experience possible.
Go In with an Open Mind
Although you will go in with a birth plan, it is also important to keep an open mind and realize that things may not go exactly as planned. Stand your ground whenever possible in order to have the experience you deserve; just know that some circumstances may require you to do something not in your original plan.
Create a Peaceful Environment
A peaceful environment is an important ingredient used in creating a peaceful birth. Prepare to create your peaceful environment no matter where you birth by bringing along candles, essential oils, lotion, and a special labor playlist. Have your doula use these items and adjust the lights to create a calming haven for your baby to be born into.
Put Your Placenta to Good Use
While your birth experience is very important, it is also important to take care of yourself during the postpartum period. One of the best ways to regulate your hormones and help ensure the weeks after your child’s birth are as blissful as they can be is to encapsulate your placenta. This may sound gross at first, but it's really no different than taking a pill, and it works wonders for new mamas everywhere.
By preparing for a positive birth experience, you can greatly increase your chances of having one. And remember, even if a birth experience isn’t exactly what you had planned, it can still be peaceful, empowering, and wonderful.