Stress-free birth … are you reading this right? With the proper planning and preparation this can be you. There are five considerations that can help you be prepared for your big day, regardless of your birth plan. With proper planning, you’ll be sitting with your feet up, waiting on your big day to get here in no time!
The decision on what type of birth you’d like to have is a big one. While hospital birth is typically the first thought for many when delivering baby is mentioned, there are other valid options to keep in mind. These include home birth and birth center. You can also tour each type of facility to see the how it would fit into your preferences. Talking to other parents, new moms and providers can help you pick the location that is right for you. Keep in mind, the distance and travel required and determine if your ideal birthing location is truly practical for you and your family.
It is important to choose a health care provider you are comfortable with and trust to handle your delivery. Be sure to weigh the location, reputation, and facilities when making these important decisions, while remembering what may best for one family is not always best for another. Above all, you want to feel confident that your healthcare provider will do their best to follow your birth plan.
Birth Planning and Prenatal Care
A birth plan provides a simple outline or guide to a mom’s support team, defining her wishes for support and care when the time comes for her baby’s birth. The length of a birth plan may vary but will normally be under 2 pages in length. While health care providers (doctors or midwives) are not required to follow these plans, the sharing of your wishes will go a long way to foster communication during your prenatal visits and labor trip. The use of a birth can help ease stress by allowing you to “pre-plan” and think about your birthing options before your big day, allowing for a smooth delivery with less stress. Birth plans may be used for all births – those who are having C-sections, inductions, natural births, or VBACS.
Future parents may also benefit from attending childbirth education courses. The benefits gained from these classes help not only with the actual labor process, but they serve to relieve unnecessary stress throughout the pregnancy as parents become more educated and comfortable.
Coming from a military family and being married to a sailor, I understand some mothers are unable to benefit from established support structures. Sometimes family is unable to help due to obligations or distance. In these cases, mothers can consider alternative means of support.
While not a fill in for dad or family members, a doula can provide emotional, physical and spiritual support. Doulas provide non-medical support for mothers and families during pregnancy, labor, birth – and oftentimes the postpartum period. Doulas are great for helping with birth planning, providing resources and recommending non-medical comfort techniques. They can provide a calm personality, an extra set of hands and even a shoulder to cry on.
Comfort Techniques for Labor
Now that we’ve sorted out your options for birth environment, care providers, planning and support team, now it’s time to talk about comfort techniques during labor. The “perfect” environment for giving birth is safe, private, warm, quiet, and dim. These aren’t the ideal situations we may see on the TV but they are the aspects of a room that can lead to a relatively stress free birth. When you allow yourself to become more relaxed, your body produces the hormones needed for labor to progress. Aside from pain medication, a doula can recommend various comfort techniques throughout your labor. Some of these might include:
- Relaxing music
- Dim lighting
- Heat packs
- Ice packs
- Relaxing breathing techniques
- Warm shower
- Laboring positions using birth balls
- Minimal distractions
Whether you’re planning to give birth at home, in a birth center, or in hospital, take some time to think about how you want this important day to happen. Remember that “failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” So, know where you want the birth to take place, who will be in the room with you to provide both medical care and support, and remember the comfort care techniques. While you may not be prepared to face every obstacle, understanding and knowing that you have planned to the best of your abilities will go a long way in easing your anxiety when that little bundle of joy decides to come into this world.