Labor offers one of life’s most difficult challenges but in that challenge exists the very real opportunity for beauty, intimacy and a positive experience. Labor is appropriately named, it is work, but it does not have to be scary, cold or intimidating work. Here are a few tips to aid in a positive birthing experience:
1. Choose a healthcare provider that acknowledges the importance of the birth experience. Choosing a provider that cares about you and baby’s safety AND your birth experience is extremely important to having a positive experience. Whether labor unfolds without complications or unexpected things arrive, if your provider values your experience they will include you in the decision making process, treat you with respect and ensure you are aware of what is happening. A caring provider is conscious of your feelings, develops a relationship with you prenatally when possible and seeks to give you a safe birthing space. A good provider respects your birth desires and is open to them even if they vary from their typical deliveries (barring any serious safety issues of course). They will often encourage self education and learning about your birth options.
2. Learn about your birth options. When it comes to giving birth you have many choices. Learn about the pros and cons of each and make informed decisions when it comes to delivery. Many are able to choose a homebirth, free standing birth center birth or a hospital delivery. Some choose to labor in water and even deliver in the water. Some women utilize alternative comfort measures like massage, hypnosis and accupressure alone or in combination with medicinal pain relief. It might seem the only option is an epidural or simply tolerating painful contractions but many options exist in between. Learn about immediate postpartum options like skin to skin or delayed cord clamping. Learn about remaining upright and mobile while in labor and having an active birth. There is no right way or right place to give birth but the saying, “If you do not know your options you have none,” is very true when it comes to birth.
3. Choose your birth team wisely. Birth is an intimate experience and those present have a big role in that experience. Have people present that are only positive and encouraging. If you are not fully comfortable with a person and are unable to let go it can actually inhibit or slow labor. Some people find comfort in having many support people while others prefer to labor with few distractions. Be sure that anyone present understands you might need space so they might be asked to leave. A birthing woman should not need to feel self conscious, watched or worried about how those around her are feeling.
4. Learn about many comfort measures. Whether you desire an unmedicated delivery or plan to utilize medication the more tools you have, often the better your experience is. Early labor often occurs prior to being able to use medication so knowing how to cope can create a positive experience throughout. If you desire an unmedicated delivery having a variety of tools can help you cope, have a positive experience and reach your goal. Hydrotherapy, massage, aromatherapy, hypnosis, affirmations, heat, different positions, counter pressure and many other options exist to cope with contractions.
5. Understand the hormonal process. Birth involves a variety of hormones. Understanding how they work can help you in your decision making process as you work towards a positive experience. Our natural oxytocin triggers labor contractions but our bodies also release endorphins to provide relief, and for some even euphoria. Simple things like keeping dim lights and a quiet environment can encourage the feel good hormones while noise and distractions can lower hormones stalling labor or making ir more difficult to cope. Learning more about all of the hormones involved and how they work will help you make decisions that encourage more feel good hormones.
6. Learn about the process of labor. Fear of the unknown can create a negative experience. When you are not sure what is happening to your body it can be scary. It is hard to have a positive experience when you are in fear. Knowing what sensations and processes are normal will reduce fear and help you in planning and making birth decisions.
7. Consider continuous labor support. Continuous labor support, like that of a doula, is shown to reduce interventions and more moms report a positive birth experience. Having a professional available throughout labor that is focused on YOUR experience and comfort can be invaluable. Click here for more information about doulas.
8. Surround yourself with positive people that build your confidence. Having people that affirm your ability to give birth, however you choose, can be a huge confidence booster. Whether moms you meet in your childbirth class, online support groups or your significant other, hearing how capable you are is important. Seek out positive support because you are capable and you deserve positive support!
9. See positive births. In past generations women saw and experienced birth prior to giving birth themselves. This often aided in confidence and removed fear surrounding birth. Avoid dramatized versions of birth made for movies or high television ratings. Watch positive birth dvds or clips that show how capable women are and the possibility of a positive and intimate experience.
10. Build your confidence and trust your intuition. Positive and educational books, comprehensive childbirth classes, self reflection and affirmations can aide in building your confidence.
The Birth Works class is designed to equip and empower parents to have a positive experience however birth unfolds. There is not one right way to give birth, learning about your options helps you to find what is best for you. During Birth Works we explore birth options like where to give birth and provider options, choosing your birth team and options for coping with contractions. We also build confidence and explore desires through a variety of interactive exercises and self reflection exercises. Classes are forming now.