Every birth is different, and it can feel hard to prepare for the big day when there are bound to be aspects beyond your control. Focusing on what you CAN control will help. Here are the top 3 things you can do to help achieve the kind of birth experience you want:
Find Your People
First find the philosophy that best resonates with you- Hypnobabies, Birthing From Within, Bradley, Lamaze, hospital based classes, private classes... there are lots of options. Google is your friend here- read up on the different philosophies, read reviews, and watch birth videos using the various methods. What is important is that you find the one that will help you to feel the most prepared and confident going into your experience. At that point you can go about scheduling any classes you want to take and assembling your birth team. The people that surround you during your birth can have a huge impact, and you'll want to choose carefully. You may want to consider a midwife, family practice doc, or an OB, a birth doula, birth photographer, and/or close friends or family members for additional support.
Explore Your Options
From cervical checks, to fetal monitoring, to how you approach the first latch when breastfeeding- there are a ton of options you will want to explore prior to your birth. While it is true that birth is unpredictable and cannot be controlled, it can be influenced by the choices you make along the way, and doing your research can certainly pay off. Hiring a birth doula is another worthwhile step to take, not only for the birth support and associated benefits, but also because many provide prenatal support that includes walking you through all of your options. Once you've considered the pros and cons to each choice, you can make your own decisions about what will help you achieve your best birth.
Train Your Brain
The mind is a powerful thing. How you feel emotionally leading up to your baby's birth can have a huge impact on how your labor unfolds. Unfortunately we have been exposed to a lot of negative birth related imagery and narrative in our culture. In order to have your best possible birth, you'll need to spend some time re-training your brain to keep calm and relaxed, avoiding fear and tension. Reading positive birth stories and trying to limit your exposure to "horror stories" from friends can help. Birth mantras and meditation can help. Childbirth hypnosis can help. Do what you need to do in order to go into your birth feeling calm and relaxed, which is known to improve outcomes.
Written by Angie Traska of Align Doula Services, providing intuitive, attentive doula support that aligns with you. Looking for doula support, birth planning guidance or lactation counseling in the Madison area? Contact me here.