5) Write a birth plan: Writing a birth plan is very beneficial. It not only lets your provider know your desires, but it also forces you to really research and look into the choices you are making for your birth. It helps you to become informed. You will know the benefits and risks of each decision you make. It also opens up the doors of communication with your provider. When discussing your birth plan you will easily be able to know if they are supportive of your desires. Most doulas will assist you in writing a birth plan as part of their package.
6) Research, research, research: Research everything. I mean it. Do you plan on having an epidural during labor? Research the benefits and risks. Do you want to have a water birth? Continuous monitoring during labor? Push in different positions? Research the benefits and risks. Plan on circumcising? Giving the Vitamin K injection? Hep B Vaccine? Research the benefits and risks. Research it all and decide for yourself what you feel is best for you and your family. Please also make sure you are getting your research from credible sources. www.childbirthconnection.com and www.evidencedbasedbirth.com are two great sites to look into.
7) Surround yourself with Support: Having people around during your pregnancy that will support and encourage you in your birth choices is priceless. Are some of your family and friends negative and less than supportive of your birth choices? Let them know that kind of negativity will not be tolerated. If they can’t say something positive, they don’t need to say anything at all. If you don’t have many people in your life that are supportive, then be active and seek out a support group. Try to begin to build a “village” now. These same people who are supporting you during your pregnancy and birth will be absolutely essential to have around during the early postpartum period and as you travel on your parenting journey.
8) Read: Read inspiring, encouraging books about pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. I’m not talking about your run of the mill pregnancy books. There are many books I recommend reading, but my personal favorite is Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. I also recommend, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: the Complete Guide by Simkin, Whalley & Keppler , Gentle Birth Choices by Harper, and The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Goer. A great book for partners to read is The Birth Partner by Simkin. If you plan on breastfeeding, it’s also a great idea to read a breastfeeding book ahead of time. I recommend La Leche League’s, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and The Nursing Mother’s Companion by Huggins and Lawrence. Also if you are looking for a book on newborn and children’s sleep, I highly recommend, La Leche League’s, Sweet Sleep.
In the end, you can never guarantee that your birth will go exactly as planned, but you can do everything possible to set yourself up for success. If things come up that you didn’t plan it’s important that you are fully informed so that you can make the best decision for you and your baby.