Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Are you ready to birth smarter? If you're ready to embrace your responsibility of birthing your little one with strength and clarity of mind, read on. I'll share 6 ways you can birth smarter, with your preparation starting now.
What do you mean, "birth smarter"?
I mean what can you do to increase your chances of a more normally progressing labor, where you are informed of your options and what is happening during your birth, where you feel supported by and connected to your partner, with a calm mind even during moments of confusion or uncertainty.
Sounds pretty darn appealing, doesn't it?
Notice that it is NOT about achieving a certain outcome-based goal (as in, "I'm going to have a drug-free natural birth!"...don't get me wrong, I'm all for what you want, it's just that we can't always control those sorts of things). What we CAN control is summed up as birthing smarter: Increasing your chances of a more normally progressing labor, where you are informed of your options and what is happening during your birth, where you feel supported by and connected to your partner, with a calm mind even during moments of confusion or uncertainty.
I'm in! How can I Birth Smarter?
So here we go, 6 ways you can birth smarter, starting right now.
1. Gather a stellar birth team. Choose wisely when you gather your birth team. Are your birth philosophies more in line with midwifery care or under the care of an OB? (Read more on that in my blog post titled, "Some Like It Hot".) Midwives generally spend more time with their patients and have time to explain your options during your prenatal visits as well as during your birth. In addition, do you have a doula on your team? Why or why not? Are you getting any body work during pregnancy, like chiropractic care, acupuncture or prenatal massage? Have you ever considered that those professionals are also on your birth team, and may help guide your choices in your birth? Gather your birth team wisely. It's one of the most important decisions you can make in birthing smarter.
2. Position your body correctly. There are specific ways to "rest smarter" during your pregnancy to help position your baby in the more favorable anterior position. We can't control baby's position but we can do some maternal positioning to encourage baby to get into their best position for birth. Who is on your stellar birth team that can help you learn positions like Inversions and Side-Lying Releases from the Spinning Babies website? (Hint: ask if your doula or chiropractor has been trained by Gail Tully, founder of Spinning Babies).
3. Make space for your partner. We put a lot of pressure on daddy-to-be to be there for us in all emotional and physical ways during pregnancy and again during our birth. In all fairness, how many births has he attended so far? How can we expect him to be our everything when he hasn't been initiated into birth, yet? In a culture that doesn't make a lot of space for sharing new dads' experiences, they can feel pretty confused about what they are supposed to be doing. Find a class that honors your partner's experience and really teaches him what to do for you and with you during pregnancy and birth, not to mention once baby is here. When I teach Birthing From Within classes, dads walk into class because their wives' or partners told them to, and walk out completely mind-blown at what they've learned: how to talk to their doctor or midwife, how to guide mom through pain-coping practices, hands on support and so much more. As a result, their confidence soars and they are able to get their needs met, while supporting their wives through moments of chaos or uncertainty. So do yourself a favor, and find some ways for your partner to learn some useful skills.
4. Prepare for pain-coping. Maybe you know you'd like a more natural birth. And you know what? Even if you are planning on the epidural, there are countless situations when best-laid plans are turned on their head for all sorts of reasons. Maybe labor progressed so fast that medical pain relief isn't an option; maybe early labor at home is really intense and you find yourself longing for a way to get through the pain; maybe the epidural doesn't take or only provides relief on one side of your body...For whatever reason, it's a good idea to get a handle on pain-coping practices. Again, find a class that can help you mindfully manage your experience of pain.
5. Take nutrition seriously. This one is big. A healthy mom is a huge factor in a healthy pregnancy. Midwifery care often comes with nutritional counseling, which you can use to your advantage and set yourself up for a smarter birth. Mom's iron count, the health of the placenta and so much more ride on nutrition.
6. Get busy relaxing. We're so used to multi-talking, being on the go, and being "crazy busy" that we might forget about oxytocin's role in labor. Oxytocin, the love hormone, is what is released during orgasm, when breastfeeding, and is also partly responsible for jump-starting labor (and keeping it progressing). When adrenaline rises, oxytocin plummets. How to increase oxytocin? Squash that adrenaline! Or rather, gently swoosh it away. Take up prenatal yoga. Paint. Get lost in staring up at the clouds. Sing. Laugh. Take a bath sprinkled with some lavender essential oils. Get busy...relaxing.
There you go! 6 things you can do now to set yourself up to birth smarter. If you found this article useful, please leave a comment below and feel free to share around on your social media networks.
P.S. November Birthing From Within childbirth class series is open for early bird registration ($50 off before October 15)! Sign up here.
In case you missed them, here are some recent blogs posts you might be interested in: