You have completed your baby registry, planned the nursery, and packed your birth center/hospital bag, so you are all set, right? Or must you also prepare for birth?
From the moment we see that positive pregnancy test, we start planning for baby. However, how much thought do we put towards planning for birth?
Do we need to prepare for labor? In short, yes, it is a great idea to prepare for labor. Certainly, baby will come regardless of your preparation. However, taking steps to prepare now could mean a more positive birth experience, improved outcomes, and even a better postpartum experience.
Birth can be unpredictable in many ways. However, while we cannot control labor itself, there are aspects about labor and birth we can control. Taking time to prepare for the parts we can control makes it easier to manage what we cannot control.
So, how should you prepare for birth? Here are six things you can do to get ready for birth:
#1 – Make An Informed Decision About Your Midwife or Obstetrician
Choosing a midwife or OB you trust, and one who practices evidenced based care, can be the difference between a traumatic birth and a birth with improved outcomes. Even when things do not go as planned, a trusted provider can support you through a difficult birth.
It is important to weigh all your options when choosing a midwife or OB. Do not simply choose the most convenient care provider. Even if you are far along, you can explore your care provider options and make a change if you are not comfortable with your current provider.
Options can vary by your location. However, many families do have access to a variety of midwives, obstetricians, and even family or primary care doctors.
It is also important to make an informed choice about birth location. Learn about all your options including home birth, freestanding birth, and hospital birth. Some people are surprised after reviewing their options and decide to change their birth location upon learning more.
#2 – Read About Positive Birth Stories And Evidenced Based Information To Prepare For Birth
There are so many wonderful birth books! There are also some outdated, not evidenced based, and even fearmongering ones. If you begin reading a book and it leaves your more fearful about birth than before, it is not a terrific book to finish reading.
We do need to be properly prepared for all the “what ifs” but evidenced-based books should not be written in a way which causes more fear. Why? Statistically, evidenced-based care leads to more positive outcomes than negatives ones.
Take time to chat with friends who have had birth experiences like the one you are hoping for. Ask them what, if any, book recommendations they might have.
#3 – Take A Comprehensive Childbirth Class
Why take a comprehensive class when there is plenty of information online? You also have the option for a couple hour class when you take the hospital tour. Is there really a reason for a comprehensive class?
If you want to learn about all your comfort options, benefits and risks of procedures, prenatal wellness, postpartum healing, and even get information about breastfeeding and infant care, a comprehensive childbirth class is the way to go.
The more prepared you are for birth, the more confidence you will have in making decisions. Regardless of your birth plan, birth is unpredictable. Knowing your options before, rather than making important choices with little information in the heat of the moment, can make for a more positive birth experience.
Our comprehensive childbirth classes are held in the Philadelphia area. We also offer virtual classes.
#4 – Be Active During Pregnancy
Except for some medical complications, pregnancy is not the time to be inactive. If you are already active, keep moving! If you are not regularly active, get moving!
It is of course important to discuss changes in activity level with your midwife or OB. However, staying active, walking, working out, and even running are wonderful ways to stay active and prepare for birth.
In fact, a study presented by the Faculty of Sciences for Physical Activity and Sport at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid, found pregnant people who regularly exercise during pregnancy could significantly decrease the risk of a c-section birth.
#5 – Encourage Your Partner To Prepare
If your partner or other support person is going to be part of your birth team, make sure they prepare. You will be quite busy and distracted, so the more they know, the better.
Attending a comprehensive childbirth class together is a terrific way to help them prepare and to be sure they understand your desires. Talk about what you need from them to feel supported during labor.
#6 – Consider Hiring A Birth Doula
Having a supportive partner, friend, etc. is a wonderful thing. However, having professional labor support can help improve your birth experience and even impact the outcome of birth (e.g., use of pain medication, c-section birth, etc.).
When you consider a birth doula, know that they do not replace a partner or family support. Doulas are trained birth professionals who offer hands on, non-medical support, education, and emotional support.
Doula support is proven to reduce the risk of medical interventions and increase the chance of a positive birth experience. Even ACOG recognizes the measurable benefits of continuous labor support.
Your birthing day might be just one (or maybe a few) day in your parenting journey. However, it is a big day. Your birth experience and birth outcome can impact your postpartum healing, future fertility and even your baby’s health. Be sure to prepare and make informed decisions.