How To Have A Perfect Birth – Advise from a Doula
The idea of a perfect birth seems too good to be true. What does a “perfect birth” look like? The better question is, what does a perfect birth look like to you. We all have preconceived notions of what birth is like from TV, media, birth stories we’ve heard, and our own thoughts and fears. There are extremes on either end with everything in between. While there’s no cure-all for everyone, there are a few things that can help you toward having a positive, perfect birth experience!
1. Find a health care provider that you are comfortable with.
Having a provider you’re comfortable with can make or break your birth experience! Make sure to discuss with them during your prenatal visits your wants, concerns, questions, and get to know their style. If you’re more comfortable discussing a list of topics that are important to you, feel free to write up a birth plan (Here’s how you can get started). It can be helpful for both of you in starting discussions and addressing potential issues. Sometimes, if you can find a provider that understands and is willing to help with the experience you want, you can forego a birth plan, which may also help with managing your expectations and improving your overall outcome.
2. Find a birthing location that best suits you.
Stereotypes and preconceived notions aside, where will you be most comfortable while you’re in labor? How about giving birth? How about postpartum? For some the answer may be at home. Others may be most comfortable in a birth center or hospital setting, especially for those “just in case” scenarios. Explore your options and find the place where you can be most relaxed, and then look at realistic options and logistics for your specific situation.
3. Have the right support (aside from your health care provider).
Whether it’s a doula, husband, partner, mother, or friend, find someone that is well versed on the birthing process and can be there to support you THE WHOLE TIME. (Here’s a link to 5 tips for your birth partner) There are definitely benefits to having someone other than a relative or friend who can be unbiased and distant from your emotional history (such as a doula), but you need to find what YOU are most comfortable with. If you need your mom to hold your hand, do it! If you don’t want your mother-in-law, uncle, grandmother, sister, etc there, then don’t! Mid labor is not the time to be hashing out childhood arguments or consoling a distraught family member.
If this isn’t your first time and you want to have your other children present at your birth, read “How to prepare your child for birth – Books, Videos, and Tips“. If you’re unsure who to ask to help with your children during the birthing time read “On-Call child care for Siblings During Birth – Can a Doula help?”“
4. Create the atmosphere you want.
This may not be the time to invite all your family and friends to hang out and catch up on old times. On the other hand, if you want your birth to be a big party with everyone you love close by laughing and celebrating with you, then go for it! Envision the type of environment you want and then plan what you need to make it happen.
Another factor here may be what kind of pain management you’ve chosen. If you’re planning a non-medicated birth or using something like Hypnobabies, it’s likely you’d be picturing a quiet calm environment with only those closest to you. Women who choose to have an epidural are more likely to want family and friends to share the experience with! You can also decide who you with you in the room and who you’d like in the waiting room and then be very clear about your wishes BEFORE the day comes. Don’t feel bad about hurting feelings, this is your birthing time and you’re in charge.
5. Know your options, do your research.
Ok so you’re pregnant, now what? Start your research by find books, articles, classes, and get some information! Here’s a great list to get you started. Weed out the things you like and dislike. Knowing what your options are can help you decide what kind of experience you want.
“If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.” Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, authors of A Good Birth, A Safe Birth
If you are set on a natural birth at home, know the risks and benefits. If you want to laugh and watch TV during your labor with an epidural, know the risks and benefits of that too. Find out what’s out there, and then choose the avenues leading toward the birth experience you desire. If you want help writing a birth plan or are unsure where to start, visit “Writing and Following a Birth Plan – How To”.
6. Have realistic expectations.
Birth, in it’s nature, is unpredictable and unique. There’s only so much planning that you can do. Prepare mentally for some things that may be out of your control. Having unrealistic expectations or expecting it to go exactly as you’ve outlined in your birth plan can be the fastest way to an unsatisfying or traumatic birth experience. Try to enjoy the ride and be present in the moment while you powerfully bring new little life into the world!
*Here are 15 free downloadable birth affirmations to help you stay strong, motivated, and positive*
7. Have a postpartum review session.
When you’re ready, find a time to talk about your birth, either with a trusted friend, spouse, family member, or health care professional. Discuss the parts you loved, the parts you didn’t, and the parts you have questions about. This can help you identify or work through any issues you might have and also let you relive the happy moments too.
People often say, “A healthy mom and baby is all that matters” but I do not believe this is true. While healthy moms and babies are the optimal outcomes, your mental and emotional health is important too. If things didn’t go as planned or an emergency arose, there can be some difficult feelings of disappointment or failure to work through. Postpartum depression is real! And so is anything else you may be feeling after childbirth. So don’t be afraid to seek help from a medical professional if you feel you need it.
Having a perfect birth doesn’t mean that everything goes as planned, because it’s guaranteed not to. If you take these steps, I strongly believe you can have your perfect birth experience and look back on that day with joy and happiness. Childbirth is often a messy mixture of positive and difficult moments, but the great part is that it becomes YOUR story. Becoming a parent is a day you’ll never forget, so embrace this unique and wonderful time for what it is… A perfect miracle.
~All things for you and your new little life~