So as a grand finale to your pregnancy there’s the birth. I’ve only done it once and I’m not going to act like I know all of the answers on the subject. There is no cookie-cutter answer to anything and everyone’s birth is different, but I do have some tips based on what I did and learned to help you prepare to have a good experience.
1. Choose Your Caregiver Wisely: I can’t emphasize this enough. If you want to deliver your baby at home or in a birth center, you’ll most likely use a midwife. If you want to deliver at a hospital you have a choice. You can’t assume all OB’s are evil and all midwives are angels, you’ve gotta do some digging and not be afraid to talk to your potential caregiver about your concerns and desires.
Ask your friends who they recommend. I had a prenatal massage by a really sweet doula who told me she loved my OB. Coming from a woman who works a lot with women who birth at home this meant a lot to me.
You also can check out Lamaze’s Birth Survey results. I filled one out, and you can too (if you’ve given birth before), about your provider so people know who are researching their providers can read about your experiences.
Some questions you can ask when deciding on who to choose: What’s your birth philosophy? Do you have a time line for how long you think a woman should be in active labor? How long past a due date are you comfortable letting a woman go before suggesting induction? What do you think about doulas?
Or anything else you may be concerned about. You can ask how often they perform cesareans, or how often women in their practice labor without any interventions. You can even ask how soon they’ll let you get an epidural, or how late.
2. Be Up Front: This kinda goes with #1. You want to be up front with your caregiver about what kind of experience you’re looking for. Wouldn’t you hate to find out 9 months in that they prefer you stay in bed during labor? It wouldn’t be fun starting the search all over again. Also ask questions about your hospital’s policy. Mine didn’t have strict rules about food and liquids during labor, but many do. Ask what positions you can labor or deliver in (if that’s something you’re concerned about).
3. Take a Childbirth Class: And have your partner go with you! They’re fun and educational. You really can’t go wrong by taking one. I took a Lamaze class and loved it. I also listened to some hypnosis but that wasn’t for me… I fell asleep every time I turned them on but during labor I HATED it (personally, but I know a lot it works for!).
4. Have a Birth “Plan”: I prefer the term “birth wishes” or “preferences” rather than “plan” because you really can’t plan what you’re baby’s going to do. However, it’s still a good idea to think about what you’d like to happen in a perfect world. Or in a not so perfect world. I even had an “in case of an emergency” section of mine with things like “let the sheet down after she’s born… etc” in case I needed an emergency c-section. It’s not a bad idea to think about your preferences in a situation like that.
Write it early, (you can always change it as you go. I had 2 or 3 versions) and talk it over with your caregiver.
6. Have a Music Playlist (or Two): I had three different labor playlists: Upbeat, Relaxation, and Just Meeting (one to play after she came out). The upbeat one totally had me in the zone more than anything else when I was working through my contractions. I was just moving around on my yoga ball to the beat, and breathing on my own. I like music when I work out and I felt like I was getting a workout so it worked. I maybe should have started with relaxing since I was so tense but it’s something I’ll keep in mind next time.
6-11 Are the Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices (in my words) which I HIGHLY recommend.
6. Let Labor Start on It’s Own: If labor gets going on it’s own you’ll save a lot of medical interventions that come with induction. Obviously I didn’t do this one, but I’d recommend it. Here are some tips for keeping you birth as healthy and safe as possible if induction is necessary. And here’s what I learned about trying to induce labor naturally, or medically.
7. Get Moving: Walk, move around, and change positions during labor: I took this advice to heart in the first several hours of my labor, even though I was hooked up to monitors and pitocin. This makes it harder but not impossible.
I didn’t enjoy walking as much as I did moving on my yoga ball. My Lamaze instructor taught us some thing we could do on a yoga ball and some of them really helped me. Here’s a video of me and Lil’ J demonstrating a few things I learned.
8. Bring a Buddy: Meaning a loved one, friend or doula who can offer support. I had my husband who learned the Lamaze techniques with me, but it was my mom who got there earlier than expected and was a big help during labor. She wasn’t in the room when I pushed (I wanted it to be just my husband and I) but she was rubbing my legs, my back, my feet. Oh man, I didn’t realize how much of a help it was to have someone who knew what to do. She’d been through that and while my husband was sweet, he would ask me what I wanted, when I needed him to just do.
I’m not sure I’ll go the doula route next time. I think they are awesome and have their place though, so look into it. But a support person can be any woman who knows what you’re going through, or even a friend or loved one would do! (Even a doulo husband or partner if you think he’d be helpful).
9. Avoid Interventions You Don’t NEED: I was as adamant about this as I could be, even though I was induced. Right before I checked in I got a sweet email from Amy Romano, my Cyber Lamaze Coach, and she gave me some fabulous tips to remember. One that stuck out was to avoid having my water broken. You can delay things longer (as long as there’s not an emergency situation preventing this) if you still have your bag of waters intact.
In my “Birth Wishes” I said I’d like my water to break on its own. I can’t remember if I addressed internal fetal monitoring, but I knew I personally didn’t want that. My water broke before I got my epidural, and that epidural was an intervention I needed. It helped me relax when it was becoming too difficult to do on my own.
You can ask for a heplock and no IV, so you have more freedom of not being hooked up to anything. You can also ask for intermittent or wireless monitoring, so you’re not hooked up to a machine constantly. And you can avoid pain killers. If you go to a Lamaze class they go through the positives and negatives of each intervention, so you can decide what’s worth it to you. I really enjoyed it because I felt like it was a very unbiased approach to it all.
10. Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back, and Follow Your Urges to Push: I had asked about squat bars and taking off the bottom part of the bed so I was in almost a sitting position versus laying backwards. The nurse said we’d see how it goes without the bars and if I still wanted them they’d bring them in. After a slight push and seeing her head, I knew I wouldn’t need them. But they did take off the bottom part of the bed so I wasn’t lying on my back to get her out. I was in a more seated position. I think it made it easier for me. She was out in minutes.
I didn’t have a huge urge to push, but I know many people do. From what I’ve heard it’s like when you’re going to throw up. You know you’re going to heave and you can’t control it.
My pitocin had been turned off so I wasn’t having many contractions, but I could feel the muscles I needed to push her out.
If you don’t want to be coached on when to push and for how long, tell them. I wanted to get her out so I was pushing when they weren’t saying push, and not pushing when I didn’t feel like it. I say go with your instincts on this. Having the epidural does make it more difficult in the “feeling it” aspect, but try what you can!
11. Stick Together: After your baby is born stick together–You and the baby. This helps bonding and breastfeeding.
I asked her to be placed on me right after birth, so my OB didn’t suction her mouth, clean her or anything, she just handed her to me, gooey and all. I didn’t breastfeed right away cause I honestly wasn’t thinking about it, and I kinda forgot, and didn’t know how to do it, but a few minutes later I gave it a try (still hadn’t a clue what I was doing) and the nurse helped me.
I asked that one of us be with her when she needed to go to the nursery, and that most of her tests be performed in our room.
I think this initial contact helps with breastfeeding and bonding. At least it seems to have helped for me.
12. Let Other Opinions Go: If you’re reading this you’re involved in social media. Don’t do what I did and let other opinions stress you out to where you’re more worried about what others will think than your own experience. This goes for your family and friends too. You may love them, but this is your experience.
I had to take a step back and regroup after I realized how all of the influence was doing a number on me.
If you want to have a water birth, and catch your own baby, don’t let others sway you. Or if you want to do your hair and makeup before so you can have cute pictures afterward, own it! Someone WILL disagree with something you do no matter what. Don’t let it get to you, and do what makes you happy. Don’t feel like you need to prove people wrong, or right, just do you, and leave other opinions by the wayside.
I hope this all helps a little if you’re preparing to have a baby. These are things I did and some of these may work for you. Some may not. If you’d like more information on healthy birth practices you can check out Lamaze’s page where they have videos on each of the subjects, and more detailed descriptions of techniques that can help and why.
Good Luck! And feel free to share your tips for others reading!
Everyone who comments on this post before October 16th will be entered to win a great prize that you or a friend can enjoy before and during labor with your baby. A Sound Beginnings music player from Creative Baby. You can play music and your voice to your baby while listening to the same thing to start bonding early. Little J has loved music from day 1 and I think using something like this made it that way. If you follow @SoundBeginnings on Twitter or their Facebook page you’ll get an extra entry.
Winner of $40 to Kids Room Decor Inc. #40 Miss Sophie. Congrats! You’ll have 48 hours to respond to my email!