Helpful Tips for a Positive Birth Experience

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.

Seems simple enough, but there’s more!

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

  • OB/GYN’s
  • 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.

What are Evidence Based Birth® Childbirth Classes?

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, Certified Health Coach and Evidence Based Birth ® Instructor. She offers childbirth classes and workshops in Southeast/Central Michigan, as well as virtual birth planning consultations online. You can learn more about her here.

Book your virtual consultation with Jenn to plan your Dream Birth now.

Write Your Birth Story – Before the Baby Comes

Photo by Lonely Planet on Unsplash

A couple years back, I was reading the excellent book by Cynthia Gabriel, “Natural Hospital Birth” and came across her suggestion for readers (pregnant people) to write their birth story in advance of their birth. It was brilliant. I thought, ” . . . but OF COURSE! This can help us manifest the birth we are hoping for because it’s like a long, detailed affirmation”. The more I pondered this idea the more I realized that our pre-written birth story can serve as a tool to help us examine if our birth team (doctors, midwives, partners, doula, friends, family, etc.) is going to help or hinder our birth plan. Who wouldn’t want to iron out all of the potential wrinkles in the birth plan? I know, I know, you’re thinking, “no birth ever goes according to plan.” Humor me for a minute.

Do you plan a wedding? Do you plan a birthday party? Do those things ever go exactly according to plan? No, they do not, but plan them, you do. Birth plans are useful tools, even if you don’t actually give them to your provider. They provide us an opportunity to consider the information about many interventions we may encounter during birth. If you have the right provider, they will be welcoming of your birth plan and will recognize that your values and preferences are an important part of evidence based care.

Now that you know birth plans are useful, and you love the idea of writing your birth story to test the viability of your birth plan . . . Are you like, “WHERRRRRE do I even start?” I can help you!

Part One

Set aside a morning or afternoon in your schedule and devote a good chunk of quiet time to really dig into your heart and intuition about how your birth story unfolds. Listen intently as your deeply knowing self relays the story to your conscious self about your birthing day. Ask questions if you get stuck, or use the prompts below for a jumping off point. Once your birth story starts coming to you, you may feel it flowing faster than you can write.

Here are some writing prompts to help you get started on your dream Birth Story:

The first time I knew I was in labor was when . . .
My support person was able to help me by . . .
When my labor began, I was . . .
When my labor began, I felt . . .

. . . and some more prompts for when you are writing about being in your birth place. Think about active labor and transition, as well as the pushing stage and delivery of the placenta while you consider these prompts:

When we arrived at the . . .
When I settled into my chosen birthing space, I felt . . .
When I felt the next one come, I . . .
The people who were around me were . . .
The staff at the birth center was . . .
My care provider helped me when . . .
My baby was . . .

Don’t forget the Golden Hour: the magical first hour after baby is born. How do you see your first hour after birth being spent?

After my baby was born, I . . .
When I held my baby, I felt . . .
My baby’s eyes were . . .
My baby’s body was . . .

Feeling my baby skin to skin, I noticed . . .

And finally, think about your postpartum care. We are still being cared for up to 4 days after we give birth in a medical setting. The baby is out, and you are now two (or more!) people instead of one. Consider how your baby is being cared for, as well as yourself.

After the golden hour, I decided to . . .
I asked for something to eat, it was . . .
My partner was . . .
The staff was . . .
My baby was . . .
When we were discharged, I felt . . .

Part Deux

Now that you have written your dream birth story, reflect on whether the actors who compose your dream ‘birth team’ represent your current reality.

About your birth partner: Is your partner capable of supporting you the way you envision? If not, what might help them provide the comfort and advocacy skills you will need from them? Childbirth classes? A virtual consultation with a birth professional? Would it be best to have a doula join your team to support both you and your partner with these things? Be honest with yourself and your partner about their abilities and your needs and work towards a solution that you feel good about – one in which you are making a conscious agreement. As you consider your options, keep in mind that sacrificing your birth experience for your partner’s comfort is not an option. You don’t get to have a do-over, so remember that even though your partner’s feelings matter, yours are more important in this situation. They won’t be the ones carrying around this life-changing physical/mental/emotional/spiritual stuff around with them their whole life. If they need help understanding this, please consult a couples counselor or marriage therapist. It is that important.

About your care provider: If your birth story is representative of the social/midwifery model [see table below] but your provider is giving you something that looks more like the medical model . . . how can you change your reality to more closely match your birth story? Bring these into alignment and your birth experience will be more likely to resemble your birth intentions. You may need to change care providers to get the care you are seeing in your birth story. Your doula or childbirth educator can help you find a provider who aligns with the model of care you want.


A Critical Analysis of the Medical Model as used in the Study of Pregnancy and Childbirth
by Edwin van Teijlingen
Sociological Research Online, Volume 10, Issue 2

About your birth place: where are you in your birth story? The hospital? A birth center? Home? If your birth place aligns with the type of care you are seeking, awesome. But if you find yourself dreaming of birthing in the woods and this is not your plan because you feel safer in the hospital, then the birth setting you have planned is leaving something to be desired. Your deeply knowing self wants to be left alone during birth, as much as possible. How can you arrange your birth place so that you can feel undisturbed, as in your dream birth? What can be done to protect your birth space? Your childbirth educator and/or doula can offer many suggestions to help you piece together a birth plan that more closely resembles your birth intentions revealed by your birth story. If you need help finding a certified childbirth educator or doula, you can search here and here.

Jenn D’Jamoos is a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator, Certified Health Coach and Evidence Based Birth ® Instructor. She offers childbirth classes and workshops in Southeast/Central Michigan, as well as virtual birth planning consultations online. You can learn more about her here.

Book your virtual consultation with Jenn to plan your Dream Birth now.