The Perfect Birth
The idea of a perfect birth seems too good to be true. What does a “perfect birth” look like? The better questions 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, I believe there are a few things that can help you toward having a positive birth experience!
- 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 birth plan, feel free to write one up! It can be helpful for both of you in starting discussions and addressing potential issues. But often times, if you can find a provider that understands and is willing to help you with the experience you want, you can forego a birth plan, which may also help with managing your expectations and improving your overall perceived outcome.
- 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.
- Have the right support (aside from your health care provider).
- Wether 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. There are definitely benefits to having someone other than a relative or friend who can be unbiased and distant from you emotionally (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.
- 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, than go for it! Envision the type of environment you want and then plan what you need to make it happen.
- Know your options, do your research.
- Ok so you’re pregnant, now what? Start your research. Find books, articles, classes, and get some information! 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 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.
- 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 can be the fastest way to an unsatisfying or traumatic birth experience.
- 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, “You have a healthy baby, that’s all that matters” but I do not believe this is true. While healthy moms and babies are the optimal outcome, your mental 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.
There’s no such thing as a “perfect birth“. But I do believe you can have your perfect birth experience. There will be things that don’t go as planned, and that’s ok. It will be hard at times, and that’s ok too. Childbirth is often a messy mixture of positive and difficult moments. Becoming a parent is going to be a day you’ll never forget, so embrace this unique and wonderful time for what it is… A Miracle.