I came up with these Tips for a Positive Birth Experience for prospective students when I first started teaching. Many expecting parents think that taking a childbirth class is just ‘learning how to breathe’. While breathing effectively is important to having a positive birth experience, there are many other factors that will contribute to how you feel after all is said and done.
Tip #1: Become an Informed Healthcare Consumer
If you are anything like I was when we found out I was preggers, you assume that you need to find an OB/GYN who takes your insurance, and then you’re good to go. I didn’t know it at the time, but there are a number of care providers who can attend births, and OB/GYN’s are just one type.
Provider types who attend births
- Midwives (Certified Nurse Midwives, Certified Professional Midwives, Certified Midwives, Lay Midwives, Direct Entry Midwives, etc.)
- Family Physicians
Learning the different models of care that these types of providers will give you could change your mind about who you want attending your birth.
AND THAT’S JUST FOR STARTERS
To increase your chances of a positive birth experience, you not only need a provider/model of care/birth place that aligns with your birth intentions, but you also need to be informed about common interventions. This means understanding the risks, benefits, and alternatives of each test, exam, or other thing they want to do to ‘intervene’ in your pregnancy, labor, birth or postpartum period. It especially means having a good grasp of the evidence supporting (or not supporting) the intervention. I know this seems like A LOT to consider, but it’s not as difficult to manage if you have a well trained, certified birth professional to help you. Knowing the evidence for interventions will significantly contribute to having a positive birth experience, especially if you end up needing one of those interventions.
Tip #2: Build a Supportive Birth Team
They key word here is “supportive”. Your birth team consists of anyone in the space where you plan to give birth. Yes, it’s your partner, a doula if you choose to have one, and any family or friends you may wish to invite. Your birth team also includes your care provider and the nursing staff.
Player 1: Your birth partner. If you have a significant other and they are your chosen birth partner, you chose them for a reason! All the lovely things you share together in your everyday life are going to come into your birth space and will help you both navigate this precious time. You may find that your partner wants to give you more support, but they are unsure how to do so. This is an excellent time to explore childbirth preparation options together. (virtual consultations, group classes, DIY, etc.)
(If you are planning to birth without a partner or support person, please message me. )
Additional Players: If you find that your family or friends are not 100% on board with your birth intentions, it may be best to limit their access to you during your birthing time. Their negativity can detrimentally affect your mindset, the energy in the room, the dynamics with the staff, or worse. Birthing time is a vulnerable time and you have to trust that everyone you are allowing in the room has your back and believes in you/your baby, so that you can focus on bringing your bundle earth-side. Active labor is not the time to manage relationships.
Tip #3: Be Your Own Birth Advocate
The trick with this tip is that you have to do the majority of the advocating before you ever set foot in the hospital. Interviewing care providers, asking questions during prenatal visits, developing your birth plan, getting your team prepared . . . it all sets you up for the big day. The goal is to enter the hospital with everyone understanding exactly where you stand on routine interventions. AND, you and your partner must walk in knowing your rights as a birthing person.
Tip #4: Consult a Certified Birth Professional
Why does certification matter? It matters if you want to cut to the chase. But if you have the time to vet someone who is not certified, that works, too! There is a baseline of information that birth professionals should know, and having certification helps you find those people easier. You want to make sure that the person you are talking to has received adequate training/experience to educate you AND they are staying up to date on the current practices and evidence. We expect our doctors and midwives to be informed, and so should the people we go to for childbirth education and birth support. Your friend or relative who has supported others through their births will be a wonderful person to have on your birth team, but will they be able to help you advocate for yourself when it comes to ensuring evidence based care is provided and making informed decisions about interventions? Certified doulas and childbirth educators have the knowledge and training you seek, and asking around in your community is another way to find knowledgeable and experienced birth pros who may not be certified but are just as qualified.
A positive birth experience is most likely to occur when you feel safe, supported and loved. Feeling safe means you have communicated your birth intentions and can comfortably put all your trust in your birth team, leaving you to focus on the important job of giving birth.
Jenn D’Jamoos is a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator, Birth Coach, and Certified Health Coach. She offers childbirth classes via the Soshe app, and virtual birth coaching at EarthMamaBirth.com. You can learn more about her here.