Every woman wants a good birth. No matter how she defines that or what she expects out of her experience, it's the aspect we can all agree on. She wants a GOOD birth.
Surveying the majority of books and articles written about birth, many experts opine about what makes a good birth. Some focus on safety of mom and baby above all. Some believe a lack of intervention is the key. For some, they just want to get through it unscathed.
In my experience as a doula, though, I've seen that what makes a good birth is bigger than that. It starts with the woman herself deciding what it looks like to HER. To help suss that out for yourself, keep reading. After thinking deeply about the underlying elements of a great birth (in whatever form), I've concluded it comes down to these three essential ingredients. Follow this recipe to create your own Kick-Ass Birth!
Duh. Very few people would argue with this one. Of course it helps to know some stuff ahead of time. There's a vast spectrum to this, though. Some couples are overwhelmed by the choices of books, classes, blogs, friends' opinions, etc. Some will opt out of the education piece and just leave the birth process in the hands of the provider. Some couples will consume every piece of information they can find, becoming “Birth Nerds” for the nine months leading up to the birth. There's a lovely middle ground available, though.
So what CAN you prepare? What can you do to influence your birth even if you can't control it?
Lucky for you, I have a great article about the 5 things you can do to prepare for birth.
A lot of people believe that preparation is all that it takes. “Just be ready enough and your birth will be just how you want it.” But really, preparation is only a third of the equation. Birth is as unpredictable as life is. So after you've done your prep-work, you can turn your focus to the next two ingredients.
You may be surprised (as I was) to learn that the way a woman is treated by her care providers during labor is one of the greatest factors in determining her satisfaction with her birth experience. It affects laboring women's perceptions even more than her experience of pain during the labor! The implications of this are HUGE. It means that hiring a provider you trust, who is on the same page as far as their approach to birth, is one of the most vital tasks of pregnancy.
But beyond the medical care provider, a woman can also forge good connections with others who will be present on game day. She can bring intention to her relationship with her partner, a doula if she hires one, any family members and even strangers she meets in the labor room!
I've come up with 9 specific things you can do now and during your labor to help root this entire experience in connection and love.
You've done your work. You've prepared up the wazoo. Maybe you've even prepared your wazoo. You've hired a provider you trust, learned some good stuff and built partnerships with those involved. Now it's time to sit back and allow. Now you get to go on the birth ride, whatever that may look like for you.
You have influenced the hell out of labor, so recognize that from here there is no forcing. There is just surrendering to doing whatever each moment asks of you. Now you can strap yourself into your seat and ride the rollercoaster. Sounds like a nice, abstract idea, huh? But how exactly do you choose to be flexible in labor? What does that actually look like?
Luckily, I have a thorough post all about How to be Ready for Anything Labor Throws at You. It includes 4 actionable ways you can prepare for and navigate the labor process with ninja-like reflexes.
That's it! Get those three things under your belt. Do what you can to learn about birth (all kinds of birth!), then invest in connection with your team and your baby, then wrap your mind around the ways you can roll with the unexpected in labor. With those tasks checked off, you'll be as ready as anyone could be!
Blessings on your birth!