“You have trusted your body throughout this entire labor, just keep doing that.”
“You are doing this. You are so close. Picture our baby in your arms. He will be in your arms so soon.”
These words, the first from my doula, and the second from my husband, got me through my VBAC labor and delivery. Each time words like this were spoken, it was like an instantaneous shot of oxytocin, and I was reminded to trust birth and to trust my own strength and ability to birth my baby.
The reality of birthing in a hospital setting is that there will often be people in your birthing space who you don’t know and didn’t choose. There are nurses, residents, lab technicians, OBs and midwives. While you may or may not have carefully selected your OB or midwife, he/she will often be part of a larger practice and the timing of your labor will dictate who is there when your baby is born. Many times, these people will bring positivity, support, and helpful ideas. Sometimes, however, your personalities won’t jive and they may not be quite on board with your vision.
It’s all about the oxytocin
Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone.” We know that oxytocin is a critical hormone in labor progress, stimulating your uterus to contract and help your baby descend. Oxytocin is flowing when we feel happy, relaxed, and loved. And it is inhibited when we are afraid. This is where your stellar birth team comes into play. A team of people who fully trust birth and believe in you can change the entire tone of your birthing space from one of fear and uncertainty to one of trust, power, and love. And this environment will not only help you to have a positive birth experience, but it might also help to counteract the common occurrence of labor slowing down in the hospital due to entering a new, unfamiliar environment.
While you are ultimately strong enough to birth your baby, it can be easy to lose sight of this when you feel fear or uncertainty. If you choose the right team to be with you, they will help you stay the course.
How to build your stellar team
Your OB or midwife
In short, it’s very important to interview potential providers and make an informed choice about who to hire for your prenatal care and labor and delivery support. I wrote an extensive post about about choosing an OB or midwife who will support you to work towards the birth that you envision in my series, “24 Ways to Own your Birth.”
If you are in a relationship, your partner will most likely be present for your birth. Now, you may be pretty sure that your partner will provide the support you need during labor and delivery. It can be so helpful, however, to talk at length about what you think you will need from him/her. A great place for your partner to start would be to read the book, The Birth Partner, by Penny Simkin. And if a whole book feels like too much reading, ask your partner to read Penny Simkin’s Take Charge Routine. This will provide some helpful tips and guidance for getting the two of you through the toughest moments.
Family members or close friends
In addition to your partner, you may have your mother, mother-in-law, a friend, or sister who wants to be at your birth. Share you vision for your birth with her. If you are confident that she is on board with your vision and that she will support you in the way that you need, go for it! However, if for any reason, you feel like her presence might cause you uncertainty or other negative emotions, it would be best to let her know that you are so excited to have her support postpartum and to have her be a part of your baby’s life, but that you picture something a little different for your birth experience.
A birth doula
Finally, consider hiring a doula. Doulas, by nature, do trust birth and do trust in a woman’s strength to give birth. That’s why they do the work they do. Not only will a doula infuse your birthing space with trust and love, but she is also experienced and comfortable with labor and delivery and will come equipped with tons of ideas for coping, relaxation, and positioning. She will provide reassurance when you and/or your partner are unsure or scared about what is happening. To find a doula, ask people in your community for recommendations. Doulamatch is a searchable website that helps you find doulas in your area. As with anybody you hire for any job, you should interview multiple doulas and figure out who seems to be the best fit for you. I like this list of questions to help guide you.
Take some time to think about the people who will bring the energy you need into your birthing space. Who will help that oxytocin flow? Who will help you remember your own strength in birthing your child? Who trusts women’s bodies, minds, and spirits to do the hard, yet rewarding work of giving birth? Then go out and be proactive in building your stellar birth team. You will be so glad you did.
Schedule a free doula consultation
Are you interested in birth and postpartum doula services on the seacoast of New Hampshire or southern Maine? I serve Dover, Durham, Somersworth, Newmarket, Portsmouth, Kittery, Eliot, and surrounding areas.