There are so many unknowns when it comes to carrying and birthing a child, especially the first newborn. Is it a boy or a girl? Is the baby healthy? Can I do this? Even family and friends add to the list of variables with their concerns and advice. Nine months can quickly become a roller coaster ride of ups and downs; thrills and tears and all at once. Despite the emotional ride, you can make it to parenthood if you follow a few simple suggestions.
Educate yourself about pregnancy and birth. Get on-line and do some reading. Talk to family and friends about their positive experiences. Find an early pregnancy childbirth class with a certified independent educator to review the many decisions you will have to make. Consult www.birthsurvey.com about providers and facilities in your home town. Consider the full range of care available including midwives and doulas.
Take control of your care. Plan to interview everyone you will bring into your circle to ensure they are a good match and do it early on in the pregnancy. It may seem at times there is only one suggested way to get things done; the ‘This is how we do it here’ mentality. When that’s not right for you speak up with positive ways routine care can be changed to better suit your needs. Your care providers want to know and are often pleased to personalize their care when they know what you need.
Find support and use it. Get your partner involved by letting them know how you feel. Hire a birth doula. Research shows this is one of the cheapest ways to better outcome and reduce overall costs. When friends tell you they would like to help, get your calendar out and make a plan right then. Can they provide a meal one week after you get home? Find the breastfeeding moms’ group in your area and attend a meeting.
Attend a childbirth class with a certified independent educator that introduces and practices comfort measures for labor. Most women do not need complicated plans for comfort but it is helpful to understand how breath awareness, positive positions, and staying calm can help your body do a better job of getting the baby out. Understanding the process decreases fear and increases your natural ability to cope with this miraculous transition.
Surround yourself with positive images of birth. Turn off the birth stories on TV and let scary birth stories pass on to other ears. Listen to those in your circle of care who believe you can do this and encourage you to find your own way. Post positive images around your home and make time daily to calm yourself and your baby. Realize there are negative outcomes you cannot control and don’t threaten your peaceful countenance worrying about those possibilities.
Penny Simkin, a renowned birth research scientist, once said that most women can give birth normally if they take four simple actions: inform yourself, get support, practice strategies to comfort yourself during birth, and have a normal labor. You may not be able to control the last suggestion but you can significantly influence the first three.
Here’s to you and this first ride to parenthood. Make it one of positive memories and personal growth.