There are many things to consider when giving birth and in today’s world, the choices are endless. It can all seem a little overwhelming to navigate. And while I don’t recommend writing a traditional birth plan, I am a huge believer in preparing for your birth by focusing on the choices you can make beforehand and prepare physically and mentally for the unknown place labour and birth takes you. Here are a few things to consider when giving birth and discovering the choices available to you.
Where to give birth?
In some countries, the first decision you will need to make will be whether to go to public or private. This is a very personal choice and can depend on numerous factors ranging from financial consideration to language differences as well as what is ‘the norm’. Again there is no right or wrong choice here. If going private is an option financially, I always recommend couples to visit both hospitals to get a feel for the environment, the language options (if offered) and the ‘rules and regulations’ at each.
Questions to ask:
- Who can come in the labour room with you? How many people?
- How early in labour can you come to the hospital? When you arrive will you go straight to a private delivery room or will you go to a prenatal ward you share with other women until just before the actual birth?
- Nursery arrangements – is there the option to let baby stay in a nursery at night?
- What, if any are the visiting hours?
- How long do you remain on average in hospital after birth?
- What are the available pain relieving options?
- What are the statistics (vaginal birth, assisted births, c sections, episiotomies)
- What happens in case of emergency?
- Do they allow and encourage skin to skin contact?
- What do you need to bring for yourself or the baby?
- Is breastfeeding support available?
- Do you have any dietary restrictions?
- Religious accommodations?
- Do they give vaccinations given at birth?
Who will bring your baby into this world?
This area that has grown rapidly in the last decade. Once upon a time in most countries around the world midwives delivered your baby. Now there are numerous options, these can vary from country to country, private vs. public, but it’s important to find the option that best fits your physical and mental state during pregnancy as well as with what is possible and supported in the country you live in.
Whether you can choose a Doctor or Midwife or other it’s important for you to choose someone you can trust. Don’t just choose someone because your best friend/sister etc chose them. Every birth is different, every woman unique and your choice should be based on your individual needs. Don’t be influenced by popular opinion.
Go for a consultation, meet the Doctor/Midwife etc and ask them any questions you may have, discuss fears, hopes and based on their answers make a decision. This is the time to be picky. Even after you’ve made your decision if something doesn’t feel right or you are not happy, find someone else.
Things to ask:
- What is their experience, background?
- Who will deliver if your chosen professional is not available (this does happen!!)?
- Can your Partner participate in the delivery? (Cutting cord etc)?
- What pain relieving options do they most often employ/recommend? (Epidural, Gas, Acupuncture, Homeopathy etc.)?
- What are their statistics (Vaginal births, assisted births, c sections, episiotomies)?
- Costs if relevant? Unexpected costs are not something you want to deal with post birth.
- Appointments / Ultrasounds?
Who will be your labour support?
Depending on the country, you may have a choice who is by your side during labour. The obvious choice may be your Partner, but there are other options to consider. And again, depending on the hospital you may be allowed more than one.
Personal Options: Life partner, family member, close friend?
Labour and Birth Professionals Options: Midwife, Doula
Support Professionals: Acupuncturist, Yoga Coach etc.?
This choice should be based on what you want to get out of your experience, not based on the relationship you have with this person.
If going the professional route, be sure to know the physical and legal limitations the professional has. Doulas, for instance, are great emotional support but cannot offer or give medical advice, whereas a Midwife is a medically trained expert in labour and birth. Chose the one that’s best qualified to cater to your specific pregnancy and birth.
Lastly, and most importantly you need to be physically and mentally prepared (as best you can!!).
- Mentally get comfortable with the process you are about to go through. Not just the birth, but also the days afterward. It can be a daunting thought, but let yourself process it from all angles.Mindfulness training is a great tool.
- Physically prepare through a healthy balance of exercise, rest, breathing practise and nutrition.
- Organise your home/nursery/child care plans before birth. Do this when you are well rested and nesting! You will thank yourself later.
- Look into a baby group or support group post baby. These days, although magical can be lonely and a “sisterhood” is a great way to meet people, ask questions and share in the many new things you’ll be experiencing.
Regardless of the way you chose to bring your baby into this world, being prepared will make the process a lot smoother. Don’t give yourself rigid rules, be flexible and knowledgeable and in the end, a lot of the stress will be alleviated through your preparation, not over planning.
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