1) A healthy pregnancy/ baby begins before conception. Eat well and excise regularly. Taking prenatal vitamins and living a healthy lifestyle (no smoking and responsible or no drinking) 3 months to a year before conception will greatly increase fertility and likelyhood of a healthy pregnancy. Only using non-hormonal methods of birth control (at least 3 months) before conception can also be beneficial to starting a healthy pregnancy. Reduce stress in your life, also. Being in a stable relationship and having trustworthy friends is a very effective way of reducing stress. Check medications and whether they should be used in pregnancy or not.
2) Birth is a natural process, not a medical crisis waiting to happen. Much like breathing or other body functions….we don’t need to supervise our body’s ability to do these things. Your body is capable of nourishing your unborn baby without directions from you; trust it to also know how to birth your baby.
3) Know ALL of your options and ALL of the pros and cons. Do your research! Not one single birth fits every mother. Find your birthing philosophy. Your preferences will stand out when you know all the pros and cons. Accepting all drugs/interventions in an uncomplicated hospital birth can be as detrimental as not accepting any interventions when a natural birth needs help. Know the pros and cons of each option so you can make intelligent decisions about your and your baby’s care.
4) Prepare for birth. Prepare to cope with labor whether you choose a medical or natural birth. Knowing what to expect and how to cope with it makes it easier on everyone. Drugs may not be readily available for the mother who chooses drugs to help her cope. Or the drugs may not work. If you choose a natural birth, you’ll learn about many different ways to cope with labor. Preparing for the unexpected is also necessary.
5) Fear makes labor and birth more difficult that it has to be. Preparing for birth goes a long way in overcoming your fears. Knowing what the pros and cons of your options are and knowing what you will do beforehand if a situation arises will lessen anxiety. Having a knowledgeable and an encouraging birth team is important when doubt/fear creeps in. Staying positive and having confidence helps the mother’s labor go more smooth. The mother is able to focus on herself, the baby, and follow her body’s lead. While fear=pain. The body is more stressed, the mind is trying to escape, and labor is much more intense and painful. Consider a stubbed toe. If you yell and throw a big fit….the pain seems unbearable. However if you acknowledge the pain, maybe rub it and then just try to shake it off….that same pain doesn’t feel as unbearable.
6) Most women go into labor 8 to 10 days AFTER a correct due date. Going into labor is another normal body function. Your body knows how to go into labor on its own. The due date is NOT an expiration date. Letting your body go into labor on its own assures that the baby is ready to be born. A miscalculated due date with induction can increase the odds of having a premature baby. Women have been birthing babies since the beginning of time. Not one of them has remained pregnant.
7) Surround yourself with positive and knowledgeable people. A person who is encouraging a mother and father increases the likelihood of a smoother labor. This person keeps both parents relaxed and focused so the mother can cope with labor/birth without unnecessary intervention. A knowledgeable person knows the pros & cons of all the options and can suggest options if interventions become necessary. They can also recommend different techniques /options in place of more invasive procedures. A person who remains positive can help remove or at least calm the parents’ fears that inhibit labor/birth. People are more likely to succeed if they have confidence about themselves and are encouraged by others around them. But with a defeated attitude- they will most likely be defeated. Choose the birth team carefully.
8) Your body is able to give birth. Women have been having babies since the beginning of time. A mother’s body accommodates her growing baby much like her body accommodates the baby during the actual birth. Babies come in different sizes, but given the opportunity, time and right positions; a mother’s body can usually birth any size baby. Your body expands during pregnancy and it will expand during birth.
9) Position yourself for birth. Women who listen to their body while birthing typically choose to birth in an upright position (not on their back). This helps the body work more efficiently in opening and helping the baby get in the best position. Letting your body choose which position you give birth in also makes the birth easier to cope with since the body is not working against itself…. Less pain means the body is working more efficiently….. It’s a great cycle…
10) Birth is a private event. Much like the conception, the birth is an intimate time. It’s not time to socialize. Nearing the end of the labor, women typically need to “tune into themselves and their baby”. They can’t be bothered with outside distractions. Late in labor many women feel the need to moan, rock, and get completely naked. Most women would not feel comfortable having friends and family see them like this…. So keep birth a private event and celebrate afterwards.
11) You have the right to refuse. You have many rights as a mother. You have the right to have a VBAC and refuse a cesarean birth. You have the right to refuse induction, and the standard IV. You have the right to refuse cervical checks, continuous fetal monitoring, and having your water broken. You have the right to refuse any unnecessary interventions and to ask for them when necessary.
12) Not all births are created equal. Most births are uncomplicated when the mother chooses not to interfere with the process. However, sometimes situations do come up and it is best to accept help. One birth does not fit all. Use the knowledge gained while preparing for the birth to decide what action to take (or not) during birth.
13) Breastfeed. Breastfeeding is another normal body process. Very rarely is their truly a medical need or problem where the mother can not nurse her baby. Surround yourself with positive and knowledgeable people. Most importantly listen to your baby.
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In your point #3), you mentioned "knowing your options and do your research". Do you have specific book recommendations, videos or websites, that you have found useful (or, have heard other women discuss?).
As you suggested, there are as many different births (and familial situations) as there are women, and it is great advice to keep yourself surrounded by encouraging, positive people!May 31, 2008 - 7:37am