As a doula and childbirth educator I’ve worked with hundreds of couples in preparation for the birth of their child. Experience has taught me that there are several things that can be done to make a real difference in your childbirth experience. The following is my short list of 3 birth preparation essentials to help you on your way to a positive and empowered birth.
Hire a Doula. If you haven’t already done so, consider the benefits of hiring a doula. Birth doulas are there to provide the emotional, physical and informational support couples need to navigate the unfamiliar terrain of birth. We provide continuous support unmatched by your other medical care providers to offer a myriad of physical comfort measures and the emotional reassurance you’ll want to help you feel calm and safe throughout your entire experience. We also empower mothers to-be as well as their partners to identify and advocate for their birth preferences. Birth doulas are known to lower the rates of unnecessary medical interventions and increase patient satisfaction when unplanned interventions are deemed medically necessary. While you're at it, consider hiring a postpartum doula as well to support you in the transition to parenthood during the often under-acknowledged "4th trimester". Having a child requires more support than most people imagine. You won't be sorry you hired a doula. I promise!
Find a Prenatal Yoga Class in your neighborhood. Prenatal yoga offers a great way to prepare your mind and body for the birth of your child. These classes are specially tailored for pregnancy to provide you with the mental and physical flexibility, endurance, and strength you’ll need when it comes time to birth your baby. In the meanwhile, it’s also a perfect way to take some time out from your busy life to de-stress and connect with yourself, your body and your baby, as well as other pregnant mommas-to-be who can be a tremendous source of support and companionship throughout pregnancy and beyond.
Attend a Childbirth Education Class. There is so much to know about birthing in today’s world that you owe it to yourself to dedicate some of your time to learning about what you can expect. There are some wonderful books out there, but nothing beats spending time with flesh and blood childbirth educators and other parents-to-be to answer the questions you may not even know you have. What does birth really look like? (Hint: It's not like the movies!) How do you support your partner in labor? When do you go to the hospital? What should you ask your care provider? What interventions may come into play and why might they be necessary or not? Information is power as they say.
Some of you may choose an 8 week series to which I say you must check out Manhattan Birth. Others may prefer a weekend intensive. I do advise against hospital classes that may be more inclined to teach you about being a good patient than empowering your preferences. As a unique alternative, the Babymoon Experience offers couples the efficiency of a weekend childbirth intensive with added the benefits of a relaxed environment for couples to absorb this vital information away from the pressures of urban life. The daily yoga, healthy meals, and in room massages are a particularly welcome bonus!
I hope you find these tips helpful as you make your way to the birth of your dreams. Between a yoga practice, childbirth class and a doula on your side, you will be better off for taking the time on the front end to prepare your body and mind for the wild ride that is birth. I know you’ll do great!