Just about every person who has given birth in modern times remembers the day their child was born. For some people, it’s a fond recollection of a day they still remember in great detail. For others, it’s a confusing or even traumatic day . . . that they still remember in great detail. If such a day is going to be one that we recollect with such clarity, it’s in our best interest to make it as positive as possible. But how?
There is so much about birth that is beyond our control. We can’t presume to know what kind of complications will occur ahead of time, or even when. But, we can say the same about so many other things in life, too. Right? We suddenly need to buy a car. An unexpected home repair is necessary. What do we know about handling the curve balls that life can sometimes throw at us? Preparation is key.
I know . . . this can be very overwhelming. When you find out you are gestating, your world is completely shifted. Your free time used to be FREE and now you find yourself immersed in thoughts of bonding, babygear and breast/chest/bodyfeeding. You might be spending a lot of time cruising the web and obsessing over what items are needed immediately, versus what can wait, and what kind of baby stuff is really needed at all. Then, there are all those prenatal appointments, making sure your health insurance is covering everything, and adapting your home to meet the needs of the new life growing inside you; You just leveled up in the game of ‘Adulting’. The thought of researching/reading any more than the ‘your baby, week-by-week’ email seems like too much, and maybe even unnecessary. You wouldn’t be alone in feeling like you should be able to, at the very least, trust that your care provider and hospital staff will take the very best care of you. However, most labor and delivery staff, doulas and many OB’s will tell you that you will have a far better experience if you are well prepared with a solid understanding of the birth process, birth interventions, informed consent, and your birthing rights. Logic would dictate that, too.
So, I have broken down the 3 things you need to do to optimize your odds of having a positive birth experience;
1.) become an informed healthcare consumer – take classes, educate yourself, practice skills that will help you achieve your birth goals
2.) be your own birth advocate – learn the evidence for common interventions, know your rights, hone your communication skills
3.) build a supportive birth team – training for your birth partner(s), choose an appropriate care provider/birth setting for your birth intentions
In most childbirth classes (including mine), you’ll learn about how you and baby work together to bring baby earthside, and practice coping and comfort techniques, play games, watch videos and have lively discussions. You’ll learn about advocating for yourself, and your partner (if you choose to have a support person with you) will learn about different ways to support you through pregnancy, birth and postpartum. You’ll discuss the importance of lining up the right kind of support for the birth you want and how to do it.
The best time to start a childbirth preparation class is around the middle of your pregnancy (20 weeks) or earlier. This will provide ample time to learn, practice and absorb the material, as well as work out any ‘road blocks’ that you might encounter in the process of preparing for your ideal birth. You can find group classes ranging in duration from one day to 12 weeks, and there are a number of virtual class options available as well. If you are coming across this information later in your pregnancy, have no fear! Accelerated classes are usually available. If you’ve already given birth and are just looking for a refresher, many independent childbirth educators and doulas can offer that. I’ve included a list of places you can find childbirth classes. There are many options and the one you choose will be the one that most resonates with you and your partner, your budget, and your schedules.
Earth Mama Birth Virtual Consultations
Soshe – App Based Birth Class and Birth Plan
CAPPA – Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association
Evidence Based Birth® Instructors
ICEA – International Childbirth Education Association
The Bradley Method
Birth Boot Camp
Mama Natural Birth Course