Recently, I was contacted by a woman who was having some issues with anxiety about her pregnancy. After speaking with her about her unsuccessful search for a doula in her area, she uttered the words, “Thank you for all your help. I guess I’ll just have to wing it!” I simultaneously felt sadness and horror; sadness because this lovely woman could not find the support she needed and horror because I know that, in birth, “wingin’ it” often leads to postpartum regret. Now, in no way am I implying that women need doulas to give birth. On the contrary, babies are born whether there is a doula, midwife, doctor or anyone else present. When it’s time, baby’s coming! And please keep in mind that I am the QUEEN of wingin’ it! I’ve done some of my best work due to the ability to be adaptable so I truly understand what an asset that trait can be; until it isn’t. I’ve also seen enough births to know that wingin’ it is just not the way to go in this particular situation. You do not have to plan every moment of your birth, but you should have an idea of what to expect, your general preferences and what you can do if things start to deviate from normal. So what does it take to prepare for birth?
Start by familiarizing yourself with what birth looks like. You want to know the basic physiology of what’s going on with your body during the different stages of labor such as:
- What contractions feel like and how to cope
- What happens if/when your membranes rupture (water breaks)
- Why is the baby’s position important
- Why are your labor and pushing positions important
- How to put it all together so you understand the progression of birth from start to finish
The number one cause of fear in birth is lack of knowledge or understanding about the birth process itself. There are many excellent books that really help to explain what happens in birth as well as what options are available to support or enhance your birth experience. Two of my favorites are: “Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete Guide,” by Simkin, Whalley, Keppler, Durham and Bolding and “The Birth Book,” by William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Have an idea of what options are available to you and how you want to incorporate or avoid those options.
- Do you want a natural birth or a medicated birth or something in between?
- Are you interested in waterbirth or just being able to use water for pain relief?
- What are the pros and cons of a homebirth or a hospital birth and which is the best option for you?
- Do you know what types of pain management are available and the pros and cons of each?
- Are you being induced or having a scheduled Cesarean and do you understand the processes and options available with those procedures?
- After baby is born, what kinds of procedures are done? Why, how and where?
There are a lot of decisions to consider when you start to explore the myriad of options for your birth. Having a clearer understanding of those options can only help empower you as you begin to form a picture of the birth that’s right for you!
What to expect when things don’t go as expected
You don’t have to traumatize yourself, but you should know what to expect in cases of emergency and moreover, what is truly an emergency and what is simply a variation of normal.
- Breech births
- Premature or prolonged rupture of membranes
- Twin/Multiple births
- GBS Positive status
- Cesarean births
How are those situations handled by your provider and what are your options when facing those situations?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it at least gets you started on the path of preparing for your best birth! You really do not have to just wing it! Trust me, you’ll be doing plenty of that after the baby is born!
For more information about the Benefits of a Doula-ABC Doula or if you want to know more about how A Beautiful Creation Doula can instill confidence in your birth, visit my website at www.abeautifulcreationdoula.com.