This is a post in my series on owning your birth.  It is my strong belief that your birth experience profoundly impacts your early days with your new child. The way you feel while birthing your baby can inform how you feel about yourself as a person, mother, and partner. If you feel respected, strong, and supported during pregnancy, labor and delivery, you will improve your chances of beginning your mothering journey with confidence and hope. If you feel disrespected, controlled, or unheard during pregnancy, labor and delivery, you may enter your mothering journey with fear and sadness.

Birth is normal and breathtakingly beautiful. But it is also mysterious and unknown, sometimes overwhelming and scary. With any labor and delivery, you can have an experience that is woman- and mother-centered. Feeling respected and heard, and experiencing your own strength and power during birth, comes down to owning the experience, even in its uncertainty. And often still, things won’t go as you expected. If you are surprised, overwhelmed, or sad about your birth experience, you will be better able to confront it and work through it if you feel prepared, strong, and confident enough to reach out for support.

You cannot plan your birth. Birth will takes its own course and we do best when we can let birth happen. But birth can happen best when we are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually at our best. In this series, I’ll share ideas about what you can do to own your birth experience.

Own Your Birth: Part 6 of 24

Know the facts!

Not every mother wants the same exact things when she imagines her ideal birth. While some mothers want to deliver at home with no access to pain medication, others want to birth in a hospital because they plan to use an epidural to help them cope with labor. And there are others who want access to pain medication just in case they decide to use it. While the particular desires of each mother will be unique, I have to believe that all mothers want to be autonomous decision-makers in their birth process and want to be trusted and respected throughout the process. One way to make sure that you feel confident in your decision-making is to know the facts. Make sure that you can find, access, and understand evidence-based information on your options for birthing your baby.

Own your Birth (6)How do I discover my options for childbirth?

I’ve already discussed choosing your provider and birth place.  The next thing you can do is list everything that you think you need to know more about. This list will probably include typical medical interventions that you’ll have access to if you choose to give birth in a hospital. You’ll also want to remember to explore your options for movement during labor, positioning during pushing, hydration and nourishment during labor, and newborn care. Hopefully you’ve already done a bit of this work while you were in the process of carefully choosing your care provider.

Where I can find the facts?

There are great resources available to help you find evidence-based information about different childbirth options. Here is a list of a few websites to get you started:
Evidence Based Birth
VBAC Facts
Childbirth Connection
If you like books, I highly recommend this book and this book by Henci Goer. Check your local library if you’d prefer to borrow the books. If you live in Dover or surrounding areas and you choose to hire me as your doula, you’ll have access to them from my lending library.

How do I decide?

Pregnancy, birth, and parenthood are filled with so many tough decisions to make. After you’ve done some research, you’ll feel more confident knowing you’ve made an informed choice. Take the information you’ve collected and consider it along with what your instinct is telling you is right for you. Your doula is another great resource. While a doula won’t tell you what you should do and she is not a medical professional, she will help you sift through the information and reflect back to you what your priorities and desires seem to be. She can also point you towards more information if you need it.

Keep learning!

During pregnancy, women will often find themselves with a new decision to make after a prenatal appointment, and sometimes even during a prenatal appointment! If you are presented with tests, interventions, and options that you’re unsure of, remember that you can always wait to decide what to do. Go home, talk with your partner, do more research, call your doula, and then make your decision. Every step of this journey is yours to take and there is nothing that you absolutely must do if it doesn’t feel right to you.

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