By Jan de Lange
Childbirth can be quite daunting, especially the first time you do it. Navigating the vast amount of information on the topic can be confusing, and the depictions perpetuated in popular culture can be more than a little unnerving. Fortunately, there are ways to prepare yourself for a birthing experience that can be as beautiful as it is memorable.
This is the starting point of your preparation. Knowledge is power and being informed is an excellent way to make decisions that will give you peace of mind for labour. Experts widely recommend taking childbirth – or antenatal – classes. These classes are typically taught by midwives – registered childbirth nurses – and will give you a detailed overview of what to expect before, during and after labour. There is also a wealth of literature at your disposal so look around for books that have positive reviews. At the same time, be careful not to scare yourself with an information overload. Knowing a lot is definitely valuable but deferring to your doctor is almost always more accurate and informative than a Google search.
Choosing the right care provider
Throughout your pregnancy, your choice of medical professionals will continuously assess the risk level of your pregnancy and make recommendations accordingly. That said, there is a wide range of options available when it comes to care providers for childbirth. There has been a recent uptake of mothers choosing midwives to handle their births. However, having a good obstetrician on standby to take the reigns should there be complications is also wise. Have as much support in place as possible for the birth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has also noted that the assistance of a doula during birth can improve outcomes and reduce interventions.
Writing a birth plan
A birth plan can go a long way to boosting your confidence going into labour. However, be careful not to overcomplicate things and be prepared for the possibility that some things might not go according to plan. Keep it simple and focus on things like the kind of support you want during labour, and who you want in the room supporting you. Other things to consider are your preferences or aversion to pain medication, whether you’ll be moving around during labour, and who you want to cut the umbilical cord, and how to long wait before doing so. Use your antenatal consultations to discuss these options with your care provider and take the time to craft a birth plan that creates the conditions for your dream birthing experience. Relaxing music, candles and a generally peaceful atmosphere are things to consider in writing your birth plan.
Birth is an emotional, powerful, messy, and beautiful experience. The support you have during birth can make a massive difference, so don’t be afraid to ask someone you trust to be there for you when the moment comes.