Kmom's Top Ten Hints for a Better Birth
Copyright © 2001 Kmom@Vireday.Com. All rights reserved.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your health provider.
Introduction From Kmom
Over the course of several pregnancies, births, and childbirth educator certification, I have learned a number of lessons about pregnancy and childbirth. Some lessons were difficult ones and some of them were wonderful ones. They have certainly changed my views about birth over time.
I have often wished that I could have had someone present in my first pregnancy and birth to share some of this wisdom, to help me learn these lessons in a less-difficult way. It is in this spirit that I offer my thoughts on things that might help other women progress through the work of pregnancy and birth more easily.
Please note that this FAQ is filled with a great deal of personal opinion. Although most sections of this website strive not to impose opinions, this particular section by its very nature is about opinions. Although I feel free to offer my opinions up for consideration here, I reiterate that expressing these opinions of course does not constitute medical advice, and naturally, not everyone may agree with the opinions stated here.
Every person must find her own path in life; similarly, each woman must find her own way of birth. Different people have different birth philosophies and what works best for one woman may not be the best choice for another woman. Although these opinions reflect my experiences and beliefs, it is important to point out that they are just one person's view, that they are opinion and not necessarily fact, and that other women may find that their mileage may vary.
I offer this brief section as a succinct summary and opinion of the vast amount of information available on pregnancy and childbirth. Because it is a summary, I do not present any references in this section; there are substantial reference citations on the rest of this website if you desire to see the information the opinions are based on.
No matter what you choose, I wish you a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby, and a terrific birth. Happy gestating!
Kmom's Top Ten Hints for a Better Birth
In Kmom's opinion you should strongly consider the following when approaching your pregnancy care. Obviously, these are influenced by Kmom's birth beliefs and philosophy, which you might not share, so feel free to explore other options, too. But in Kmom's opinion, if you want to strengthen your odds of having a great provider, wonderful supportive care, and a great birth experience, please consider the following:
1. Surround Yourself with Only Positive, Loving People and Care
Pregnancy is a time of lots of change and stresses. It can also be a time of wonderful healing and growth. Pregnant women tend to be very suggestible, and negativity can impact them more than they think. Pregnant women should make it a point to surround themselves only with loving people, positive messages, and life-affirming, supportive care. Don't make your baby put up with negativity and stress, whether from friends, family, or medical personnel. Banish those people from your life or minimize greatly your contact with them, and especially don't let them be around you during the birth when it's especially important to be surrounded only by positive and loving energy! It's not always easy to do this, but make it a priority to have your baby be surrounded only by loving and positive vibes, whether from family or from medical personnel.
2. Be Assertive About Your Care
Stand up for yourself and your baby! Don't accept anything less than wonderful care. Don't be bullied or pressured into any tests or procedures that you are not sure of, or out of anything that you feel would be best for you and your baby. Become your own best advocate. You do not have to do anything you don't want to agree to. If you disagree with your provider and cannot work it out, or do not like the way you are being treated, FIRE your provider and find another. YOU are the employer, and they are your employee, after all! If you are not satisfied, speak up and try to work things out; often there is a compromise position that can be worked out. But if you do not feel like your provider is sufficiently responsive or supportive, don't meekly go along with something or someone your intuition is warning you about. It is never too late to change providers; even in the middle of labor you can change if needed! (Yes, women have really done that!) Respect your inner knowledge, stand up for your baby, and stand up for yourself. Do whatever you need to to feel safe and respected and listened to. Your baby is depending on you!
3. Research Pregnancy and Childbirth Issues
Become an informed health consumer. There are many controversies in childbirth care, and even the experts disagree strongly among themselves about some things. You will not get the same care if you go to different providers; you'd be surprised how much care decisions will differ between providers! Research pregnancy and childbirth issues so that you know what you why a proposed procedure or intervention may be beneficial or harmful, what the tradeoff of risks and benefits are, and what impact the decision may have on your and your baby. Don't simply accept that "doctor knows best;" most women are surprised to learn that different doctors recommend vastly different things! Take time to be involved in your care, research the issues so you can ask intelligent questions, and become a partner in the decision-making with your provider. Women who are more involved in their care tend to have happier and more satisfying birth experiences. Don't trust blindly; form a partnership with your provider and share responsibility for your care.4. Be Proactive; Practice Excellent Nutrition and Exercise Habits
Taking care of your baby doesn't start at birth; it starts long before then! Do everything you can ahead of time to prevent problems from happening. Utilize prevention now instead of intervention later! Get serious about minimizing stress in your life, get regular exercise, and practice excellent nutrition. Remember that everything you are doing now may be influencing your baby. You don't have to be absolutely perfect, but do work hard towards being as proactive as possible. Taking great care of yourself now can REALLY prevent or minimize lots of problems later on. This is one of the most powerful tools for a healthy pregnancy and birth you have, and it's entirely under your control. Really work hard to do the absolute best job you can!
5. Prepare Emotionally for Birth and Parenthood
Exploring birth beliefs and addressing fears can improve outcomes and result in a more satisfying birth experience. This is especially important for women who have been abused, have co-dependency issues, have body trust or body image issues, have past histories of infertility or pregnancy loss, have suffered a recent death in the family or major loss, lost their mothers at an early age, were born via cesarean or difficult vaginal birth, or whose family traditions or beliefs about childbearing are negative. Women who have had prior negative birth experiences of their own can also greatly benefit from emotional preparation for a better birth next time. Good programs include Birth Works or Birthing From Within childbirth education classes, books such as Creating a Joyful Birth Experience by Cappachione and Bardsley, or seeking counseling with therapists that specialize in working with birth issues. There is also a FAQ on this website on Emotional Recovery from a Cesarean, which addresses many of the same issues. Even if you have never had a cesarean or even a baby yet, you may find some of this information helpful.
6. Consider Your Birthing Place and Choice of Providers Carefully
Choose your birthing place and provider wisely; spend a great deal of time and thought choosing these. This is an extremely important choice, and can influence the quality of your birth experience strongly. Question societal assumptions; don't assume that typical media images of birth represent normal birth or the safest way to birth. Investigate all your options carefully and then choose what seems most appropriate for you. Pay special attention to your feelings; do you feel safe at this birthing place and with this provider? Why or why not? Do the routine protocols of the birthing place and/or provider match your birth philosophy? Do you feel comfortable with this provider? Do you feel respected and listened to? Do you think they truly believe in your ability to birth normally? How do they respond to questions and concerns? Don't simply choose the first provider who accepts you or the doctor your best friend used; interview several possible providers and then choose. Explore your options before committing. And remember, should you have second thoughts along the way, it is never too late to switch providers or birthplaces.
7. Choose a Midwife for Your Care if Possible
Strongly consider hiring a midwife for your care, if possible. Midwives have a much lower rate of intervention, take more time to talk to you about your concerns and choices, and are much more likely to be size-friendly. In some studies, you cut your chances for a cesarean nearly in half by choosing a midwife, and strongly lower your chances for an episiotomy too. OBs are appropriate if you are high-risk (pre-existing diabetes, heart problems, etc.) but they are mostly trained in birth abnormalities and not how best to foster a normal vaginal birth. Midwives are the expert in normal birth, and are much more likely to work with you to help prevent complications, take time to listen to your fears, and give you lots of choices and alternatives in your care. Most first-time moms automatically assume they should hire an OB, but it's actually first-time moms who need a midwife the most. If you are afraid that you are not 'low-risk' enough to hire a midwife, interview one anyhow. If they believe you would be better served by an OB, they will tell you so, and will recommend the best in the area to you. But most women are best-served by a midwife, and more qualify for midwifery care than they would think. There are several different types of midwives; which type is most suitable for you depends on your birthing wishes and priorities. (For more information about different types of midwives, see the web section on Finding a Size-Friendly Provider.)8. Hire a Doula to Assist You and Your Partner
Consider hiring a professional labor support person ("doula") to help both you and your partner through the labor and birth. Doulas are especially helpful for first-time moms, and for women with special concerns, such as those with a lot of birthing fears, a history of negative contact with doctors, a prior difficult birth, a past history of abuse, or a history of infertility/pregnancy loss. The presence of a doula is known to cut the cesarean rate significantly, lower the rate of women needing drugs during labor, increase the chances for breastfeeding success, and improve maternal satisfaction with the birth. Although many fathers fear that hiring a doula would displace them or make them feel uncomfortable at the birth, a doula actively works to support both the father and the mother during the birth. Fathers who were initially dubious about hiring a doula almost universally report a high level of satisfaction with that choice afterwards; they were surprised at how much it helped, and at how much they appreciated extra emotional and physical support. Doulas are experts in birth, and have many 'labor tricks' they can suggest to help if the going gets tough. You do not have to be committed to a completely all-natural birth in order to hire a doula; doulas support your birthing preferences, and work to help you achieve the birthing experience you desire. Some doulas also help with pre-labor emotional preparation, or post-birth assistance and support.9. Attend Non-Hospital Childbirth Classes
Choose childbirth education classes that occur outside of the hospital setting as part of your preparation for birth. Although you will pay more for these classes, you are more likely to get exposure to a wider variety of viewpoints and choices, and more in-depth assistance in methods of coping with labor contractions. Although some hospital classes are good, many hospital-based classes are simply exercises in how to be a good, compliant patient and not question your treatment. They usually use distraction methods for coping with labor pains (which many women find ineffective), and often have their content and point of view tightly controlled by the sponsoring hospital and physicians. Very few women who go through hospital classes end up with natural births, and a high percentage end up with cesareans and undesired interventions as well. Taking a non-hospital childbirth education class does not mean you have to commit yourself to birthing without pain meds, it just means that you will be choosing whether or not to use these with careful knowledge of their risks as well as their benefits, and it will give you non-drug options for coping too. If you are interested in independent childbirth education classes, Bradley, Birth Works, or Birthing From Within classes are all examples of quality non-hospital classes that are available in many communities.
10. Trust Your Intuition; Listen To Your Baby and to Your Inner Voice
Many women find that their inner intuition is strongest in pregnancy, and if they are open to hearing it, can help them a great deal. Oftentimes, our inner voice speaks to us but we have been taught to disregard our own feelings or are too busy to listen. Respect your inner knowledge; if something is nagging at the back of your mind, listen to it! Oftentimes it has an important message you need to hear. Spend time examining your feelings, exploring your fears, paying attention to your dreams, or just being quiet and letting your inner voice (and your baby) speak to you. Pay especially close attention to your inner intuition about your choice of provider and birthing place, or when you face difficult choices about pregnancy tests or care protocols. Research the benefits and risks of all your options thoroughly, journal about your fears, choices, wishes, and hopes, and then take time to just meditate on the possibilities. (If you find it difficult to clarify your feelings, there are exercises in Creating a Joyful Birth Experience by Cappachione and Bardsley that can help you access your intuition. Also, sometimes exercise like yoga, swimming, or walking can help free up the mind, or getting into nature and away from your daily routine can help focus the mind inward.) The moments just before sleep or as you wake are often times when the inner intuition speaks most clearly; take time to meditate on your baby then, sink deep inside the womb, surround your baby with love and care, breathe deeply, and take time to be still. Often, this is when your inner voice will speak most clearly to you.
Copyright © 2001 KMom@Vireday.Com. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be reproduced or sold, either by itself or as part of a larger work, without the express written permission of the author; this restriction covers all publication media, electrical, chemical, mechanical or other such as may arise over time.
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