When you are having a baby, educating yourself and keeping expectations realistic are very important as you plan the way your baby will enter the world and join your family. Start educating yourself with a birthing class. Try to avoid the sensationalized birth programs on television that often don’t provide enough information or select stories based on shock value. This only generates fear and does not help properly educate.
Hospitals and birthing centers will offer courses usually as a weekend session. If the cost is an issue, contact your doctor or public health office to find out what is offered in your area. In addition, a great online Childbirth Class has been prepared by Robin Weiss and is free through About.com (Robin Weiss Childbirth Classes). We also recommend a breastfeeding workshop even if you aren’t sure about your decision to breastfeed. If you want to explore your concerns in a less public forum, Best for Babes is a fabulous resource.
ALL moms deserve to make an informed feeding decision, & to be cheered on, coached and celebrated without pressure, judgment or guilt, whether they breastfeed for 2 days, 2 months 2 years, or not at all. –BestforBabes.org
Many feel birth is out of their control and just accept that they will follow the path that most do — wait for labor, go to the hospital, have their baby, go home after 48 hours. This mental preparation is all some women need or want. They focus on how they will care for a new baby and not as much on the event of the baby’s birth. Your birth experience will be a memory that stays with you for a lifetime. Mothers can recall each of their birth experiences with amazing details although more than 60 years have gone by.
In recent years more and more women are taking a proactive role in their prenatal care and enter in to their birth experience well-educated about all of their options. Women are choosing birthing centers and more specialized care. Doulas are rising in popularity and offer emotional and physical support during and after birth. Birth plans are written to express the preferences and wishes of the family so that they have the experience they want — not what is “standard practice.”
Some hospitals pay little attention to birth plans since birth can not really be “planned” and others fear they may reflect unrealistic expectations and set a mom up for disappointment. A good birth plan will provide specific information about labor preferences including interventions, medications, birthing positions and baby care following birth. If you choose to use a birth plan, share copies with your birthing team (partner, doula, Midwife, OB, etc) so you are all clear about your intentions going in to birth. Know that labor is unpredictable and birth plans are tools — they are not legally binding.
Expectant moms all hope to have a healthy, happy, baby that sleeps well, eats well and thrives. However, complications occur, undetected illness may surface once the baby is born, problems occur as a result of interventions which may put mom and baby at risk. Whether you choose a hospital birth, home birth or birthing center, know the risks and benefits and make an informed choice. The most important thing an expectant mom can do is educate herself about labor and birth, decide what is best for her, and have a birth team that supports her choices and will advocate on her behalf.
A Healthy Baby and Your Birth Experience
You may be thinking, or even said to a friend when offering support, that “a healthy baby is all that matters”. While we understand this statement has value and may be reassuring to a new mom, it is only a part of the whole experience. How mom is treated matters and her emotional and physical experience matters. I have read countless stories about women being mistreated and disrespected during birth. This should NEVER happen. Interview doctors and midwifes and get recommendations from friends.
If your birth experience isn’t what you hoped, if you feel angry, traumatized or mistreated, talk to a professional about your feelings or join a support group. Friends and family may try to be supportive but often finding women who have gone through a similar situation or can listen with empathy and compassion will help you heal.
The people who surround you contribute to your positive (or negative) experience. When you are going through what could be the most anticipated, most intimate and beautiful experience of having a baby for the first time (or 4th time), you should be surrounded by people who genuinely care about you and the experience you are having. Doulas will support and advocate for YOU. Labor can be overwhelming and having a person who has experience, compassion and a genuine passion for positive birth experiences can really help you through labor and delivery and keep it positive.
Birth should be an empowering and intensely joyful, beautiful experience. Being prepared and informed will help shape the experience to be a happy one and allow you to address concerns as they arise with confidence.
Some helpful links
Giving Birth With Confidence at http://givingbirthwithconfidence.org/
VBAC and Cesarean Support at http://www.ican-online.org/
My Best Birth http://www.mybestbirth.com/