Preparation for Birth

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There is so much talk about preparing for birth.  So I’d love for this post to be as interactive as possible.  Please feel free to comment, leave suggestions you might have for expectant mothers, and tell us how you prepared for your birth/s.

Pregnancy, for most women lasts from 37-42 weeks, and while that seems like a long time, it really is not.  In that time, couples/families become very involved in preparing for the birth, and I can’t help but wonder if families prepare enough.  We all know that couples, especially first time parents, go a little wacko on baby registries, and I’m sure stores are thrilled with this.  But are couples preparing adequately for the birth of their newest loves?

How did you prepare for your birth/s?  Do you think you prepared enough?  Do you think you could have ever been prepared enough?  So here are some questions I’d love for you to weigh in on.

  1. Did you take childbirth classes?  (If so, where were they offered?  Do you feel like you learned enough to feel comfortable with giving birth?)
  2. Did you interview multiple care providers, and shop around at several hospitals/birthing centers?
  3. Did you take other classes?  (Breastfeeding, Newborn Care, Etc)
  4. Did you research routine interventions that are used in hospitals?
  5. Did you research newborn care procedures in hospitals?
  6. Did you prepare a birth plan?  If so, did anyone help you with this?
  7. Did you have all of your questions answered by your care provider?  (Questions to Ask your Care Provider)
  8. Were you satisfied with the prenatal care your received?
  9. Were you comfortable with your care provider/hospital?
  10. Did you feel prepared to give birth?

I know that right now, in my community, there are two hospitals.  I have attended births at both, and each has its own policies and procedures, some the same, and some very different.  I cannot say that one hospital is better than the other, simply because I am not a woman who is preparing to give birth in either.  Each woman preparing for birth, prepares in her own way.  And the consensus I hear around my area is that women are not necessarily feeling prepared adequately.

The sad truth is that there is over-crowding in the hospitals, and the time that women receive with their care providers is little.  I always encourage women to ask tons of questions, and ensure that her questions are answered before she leaves her doctors office – whether she feels good about the answers or not.  I went to a Homebirth Meetup Group in Fayetteville a couple weeks ago, and heard a woman say that she felt like cattle in the system that is caring for pregnant mothers.  No mother should feel that way, ever, but especially by the providers who will help her to birth her baby.

Preparing to give birth is HUGE.  I believe that couples should research until they are blue in the face.  Here are the things I think should be researched by every expectant couple:

  1. Proper nutrition during pregnancy
  2. Advantages of hiring a Doula/Labor Support
  3. Childbirth Classes – Which one is the best fit for you?
  4. Routine interventions – imposed by care provider, and by hospital
  5. Medical reasons for induction & augmentation of labor (when it is appropriate to do so)
  6. Medical reasons for Cesarean section
  7. Routine newborn procedures – who does them, when are they done, which are mandatory
  8. Circumcision – Do you want this done?  (Here is a guide for you to look at if you’re curious about why or why not to have this done.)
  9. Vaccinations – Will you vaccinate, will you delay?

Another sad truth is that many people research what car to buy, what TV to buy, what cable service to use, where to have their dog groomed more than they do how to give birth, where to give birth, who to have in attendance, and what the process will be like for them.  Some women do not feel confident with the care they receive, but do not switch providers.  So, if I can make one suggestion, it would be to prepare for your birth, and this includes switching providers if you do not feel comfortable with them. Prepare for birth, for you and your baby.

Make this interactive:  COMMENTS PLEASE.

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5 responses »

  1. I started really learning about birth at the end of my second pregnancy. I had never really thought about MY preferences because I didn’t know I had options. Unfortunately, this situation is common. My first birth was typical, I felt I was at the mercy of the hospital staff and the complete opposite of empowered. So for my second birth, I started to read books and watch documentaries that explored options and really opened my eyes to the possibilities.
    I decided to hire a doula, take classes , I changed OBs, researched details to make my birth plan an educated one. It made all the difference. Of course, giving birth at a hospital subjects you to their policies and procedures (good and not so good)… but those will never change without patient education and advocacy.
    Thanks for the article!

  2. I researched EVERYTHING before I ever got pregnant with my first baby. The only regret I have about her birth is the midwife… I never felt fully comfortable with her, but there are only 2 homebirth midwives in this area, and I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable with the other one either. My douls was fantastic! She made my first birth wonderful! She was a midwife by the time I had my second (7 years later), and she is the best midwife ever! My second birth was wonderful (I just made every mistake in the book over the next 6 months, IMO). I am planning my third now, due in December, and I have my fantastic midwife lined up, and a fantastic doula lined up as well. I have a wonderful and supportive hubby, and I’m hoping that both the birth AND my baby’s first 6 months go VERY well!

    I feel research is DEFINITELY the key… I know how the Drs and the hospital here in town are, and I would NEVER go there, even in an emergency. I’d drive the 45 minutes to the next nearest hospital, where I know I’ll receive better care, care better suited to my wishes. I also know that my hubby will back me up in my wishes, with his fist if he has to! I will never endanger my baby, obviously, and I’m not going to let any Dr or nurse do so either, no matter how good their intent is, or how many just-in-cases they throw at me. I know my rights, and I know they have to do what I say, to a certain extent. They have to get my nod of approval before they do ANYTHING. So there.

    Research everything, every issue, from both sides. For example, I don’t vaccinate, and most of my reasons to choose against it were found on the CDC’s website! I learned that my baby had a higher chance of dying as an adverse reaction to the vaccination than of actually contracting the disease against which she was being vaccinated! Of course, they don’t put those statistics on the same page… I had to discover this on my own! So again, RESEARCH!!!

    Other than that, all I can say is go with your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, if it doesn’t make sense, then don’t do it, and don’t let anybody force you to do it either!

    • Lynda,
      I think your “testimonial” is right on! I think that our culture has created women who are think that what their doctors are saying is the only truth. I always encourage women to explore other options, because doctors (OBs) only speak one side of the truth, that is largely controlled by fear of liability (Sad).
      Research, on the part of the expectant families is needed, every step of the way, in order for them to become empowered.
      I commend you for being so proactive in your births. Amazing. And thank you also for adding that women should trust their guts, SO IMPORTANT!

  3. I am currently 35 weeks pregnant with my first child. I was nervous when I had my positive result come back, as I had experienced a miscarriage nearly 5 yrs prior. I didn’t have medical insurance either, so I went to a free clinic to have the results verified. After it was confirmed I immediately talked to them about my situation and asked them for recommendations.

    I chose an OB within the clinic and began my visits. After my 2nd visit with her I realized that she was not the right provider for me and with the help and encouragement of my mom, husband and cousin, made the decision to switch to a doctor I had gone to before and felt more comfortable with. (By this time I had medical coverage and was no-longer concerned with how it might look!) Because of how I felt, as a patient with this provider, I made sure I reported my reasons for transferring to another doctor and facility known to the administrative staff in-charge of over seeing patient care and quality.

    My doctor is an OB but works in an office with 5 or more mid-wives. When my records were reviewed and I was accepted I began seeing a new midwife every visit so that I, and the midwives, would be comfortable and have knowledge of my history when labor and delivery began. I also knew that I wanted to birth in the ‘Birthing Inn’ which was located downstairs from their office. (The entire staff; including the OB, is affiliated with.) I verified what their ’emergency situations’ would be and felt comfortable that I was making the best decision for me.

    Because I felt that this pregnancy would be successful and was progressing well I began asking my cousin, who is also a Doula, for reading suggestions. She had many books from her training that she willingly provided me. I also went to the library to find more books on pregnancy and childbirth. I read like crazy! I had books that told me how to have a natural ‘holistic’ birth; books that provided me facts on all the possible procedures that may be performed at the labor, birth and delivery, (in hospitals, under OB care, with midwives, and with Doulas) which included reasons, pros and cons of each, as well as alternatives; including what might happen if they do nothing. I also read books on breastfeeding/formula feeding, the pros and cons of breastfeeding/formula feeding, what to look for or do if your breasts aren’t developing properly for breastfeeding, and reasons to either add or turn to formula.

    I always knew I wanted to have a water-birth (my reasons for choosing the ‘Birthing Inn’), so I researched it on the internet most, as there were few books I found on the subject. I also researched other natural birth methods to help me know what other options might work best for me when labor begins or progresses.

    Because I wanted to have a natural birth outside the hospital, I didn’t want to take the traditional childbirth classes. I had to use my cousins knowledge to help me research this topic! She told me which sites to check out, where classes would be held, and how I could get signed-up. I chose to take a class at the ‘Birthing Inn’ called ‘Birthing From Within’ and was provided with a book from my cousin, also called ‘Birthing From Within’ by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, that I read prior to taking the class.

    I know there is still more I need to do to prepare for the birth of my child, but I feel confident that the information I’ve learned will better help me avoid most, if not all, the unnecessary procedures, as well as prepare me to better accept an emergency situation should one become present. I’m not saying that I’ll like it, but I feel that I would be more open and understanding to the reasons and circumstances for that decision.

    • Ilea,
      It sounds like you’re preparing for an absolutely magical birthing experience. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. It is so very important to prepare for birth, and to be completely informed of everything that could happen.

      My thoughts are with you during the end of your pregnancy, and as you birth your beautiful baby. You inspire me.

      -Teva

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