Originally I was going to title this post 8 steps to help you achieve a natural birth, but then I realized these tips are helpful no matter what kind of birth you desire.
1.) Choosing your care provider: I believe what care provider you choose is probably the most important decision you can make in regards to your birth. You need to make sure your provider is supportive of your birthing choices. Do you want a natural birth? Then you want to go with a provider who will not force you to labor on your back attached to monitors. Are you planning a VBAC? If so, you want to go with a provider who has a high successful VBAC percentage rate. You don’t want to go with a provider who will insist that you have a repeat cesarean at 39 weeks, if you have not gone into labor on your own before then.
If you have not yet chosen a provider, I first suggest you research the different model of cares. Research the midwifery model of care versus the medical model of care. Which one appeals to you? Based on that, you may want to go with a midwifery practice or a practice with OB/GYNs. Note that some OBs follow the midwifery model of care and some midwives follow the medical model and many are somewhere in between.
Sometimes it may be hard to tell what your provider supports. It may take a little bit of digging to find out. Be open and honest about your desires for your birth from day one. Tell your provider what you want and watch their reaction. Is it positive? Do they seem truly supportive of what you want or do they just seem to be appeasing you? Ask a lot of questions. Ask what their cesarean rate is. What percentage of their patients receive epidurals? When do they typically try to induce labor, and in what situations? What time limits do they put on length of labor and pushing? Will they be okay with you laboring and pushing in whatever position feels comfortable, or do they want you stuck in bed? Ask how they feel about about pain medications, natural birth, VBACs, etc. Find out if their answers line up with what you want out of your birth. Also ask around. Find out other women’s experiences with that provider. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with the provider you have then SWITCH. It doesn’t matter if your 14 weeks or 41 weeks, if you do not feel your provider is supportive of your choices, then switch to one who is!
2)Birthing Location: Where do you want to give birth? At home, at a hospital, or at a birth center? Choosing your provider and birth location usually go hand in hand. Most providers only attend births at center locations. If you want a hospital birth, research hospital policies. What kind of amenities does the hospital have? Do they have tubs? Can you birth in the tub or just labor? Do they have telemetry (wireless) monitoring? Is that monitoring waterproof? Will they allow you to eat and drink during labor? Or is that left up to your provider? Will they require an IV? Think about the birth you want and find out if it’s possible to achieve that kind of birth at the location you choose. If you want to give birth at a birth center find out what their transfer rate is. Find out what hospital they would transfer you to. If you want a home birth, research the laws in your state regarding home birth. Find out which midwives service your area.
3) Take a QUALITY childbirth class: For the most part I suggest you take an out of hospital childbirth class. They seem to be more comprehensive. Many hospital childbirth classes could be appropriately renamed “how to be a good patient class”. Not all are this way, but a lot are. Before finding a class, look into the different methods of childbirth education. There’s Lamaze, Hypnobabies, Birthing From Within, Birthworks, The Bradley Method, and many others. Research each method and decide which one most appeals to you. Search for a childbirth educator in your area that offers classes with the method you have in mind. If possible, ask for references.
4) Hire a doula: Yes I am a doula so this step may seem very self serving, but it’s not I promise. The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves". It is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and just after birth. Women who hire doulas to attend their births generally experience shorter labors, are less likely to request an epidural or pain medications of any kind, are less likely to use pitocin, have a reduced likelihood of having a cesarean section, are less likely to have a forceps or vaccuum assisted birth, and have an increased likelihood of rating their childbirth experience as positive and satisfying. There have been no risks found with using a doula.
A doula can help you to achieve the birth that you want. She will know your wishes, and will help to make that happen. Her goal is to help you achieve the birth you desire, not the one that she thinks is best. In the end, she wants you to feel empowered and satisfied with your birth. A doula is a benefit in any type of birth, whether it be an unmedicated birth, a medicated birth, or a cesarean, and in any type of setting, hospital, home, or birth center. To find a doula, I suggest going to www.doulamatch.net or www.dona.org and searching for a birth doula in your area. I also suggest contacting and interviewing several doulas to find one that you really ‘click’ with. You are going to want to feel 100% comfortable with the doula you choose for your birth.
Steps 5-8 will be posted tomorrow :-)