Not your typical list of pregnancy do’s and don’ts, last year we published 28 posts/days to a healthy pregnancy and birth that guarantee results. As social media is not always the easiest to go back through archives of posts, we felt to reproduce those 28 tips here on our blog in a groups of seven (7) over a series of four (4) weeks. This is week 2.
Day 8: What makes you feel safe?
This is a question my students take up for one of their assignments, and I would encourage you to think about this also today. This is good to do for a couple reasons: 1) it allows you to really think about what you need to feel secure during birth, and 2) It helps you know what you may need to put on a birth plan or discuss with your care provider beforehand.
So today, make a list of things you need to feel safe while giving birth. This can be pretty much anything. It can be the need to have medical equipment nearby, the need to have a quiet, dark space, or the need to have certain people around. Once you have your list, go through it and make sure that your care team can actually provide you with what you need. Put this on your birth plan and make sure everyone involves knows that these are the things you need to feel safe.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this. If a birthing woman feels safe, it will help with labor progression, feelings of empowerment, and better feelings about birth in general.
To pack: A birth plan that reflects your safety needs. (Make sure you discuss this with your care provider and that they will stand by your needs.)
Day 9: Choosing a care provider
This is probably one of the single most important decisions you will make when it come to protecting your sense of safety and what matters to you. Many providers will say they feel comfortable with things, but their track record says otherwise. Basically a provider will fall back on what they know best and feel comfortable with and will usually tell you with absoluteness that they are doing the right thing. This is not good or bad; it’s just the way it is.
What does this mean for you? If you don’t want an episiotomy at all because it triggers you in any way and creates negative emotions, do not go to someone who usually gives episiotomies, even if they say they only do it in emergencies. If they do episiotomies consistently, they are going to do them. If they have women birth on their backs 90% of the time, you will probably end up on your back.
Today, make sure you are going to someone who will respect all your needs that will help you feel safe. That may mean you find someone who does make the decisions for you because that makes you feel safer, or it may be someone who keeps away most of the time. Just make sure that their track record holds up to what they say they will do.
To put in the bag: A list of numbers to call when you have questions during labor.
Day 10: Using Music
In order to feel safe, feeling a sense of comfort is important. Music is one of those ways that we can find comfort, both before and during labor. Studies have shown that music is associated with a decrease in pain and anxiety during labor, and helps with postpartum depression.
So today, find some music you like that will help you stay calm and present. Play it while you are pregnant to allow your body to make the association between the music and relaxation.
To bring in the bag: mp3 player with music you find calming and comforting.
Day 11: Educate yourself
Educating yourself about birth and your choices will help you feel more confident about the process and your ability to decide what you want for yourself. There are a ton of resources to choose from. Here’s a list of my favorite books (links take you to Amazon.com):
- Birthing from Within by Pam England
- The Birth Partner by Penny Simpkin
- Active Birth by Janet Balaskas
- Labor Progress Handbook by Penny Simpkin
- Birth Day by Mark Sloan
Websites and blogs:
So today, learn something new.
To bring in the bag: Labor Progress Handbook is a great small book to tuck away and use as a reference during labor when the need arises, or find something else small that you can use for references.
Day 12: Know your rights
Many women have not felt safe during childbirth because they did not know their rights. So today, take a moment to read about and understand your rights.
To put in the bag: Download a copy of these rights to show to anyone at the hospital/or birth place if you feel like your rights are being violated.
Day 13: Comfort items
I admit it, I sleep with a small pillow that brings me comfort at night. 🙂 I also like blankets. To help chase away those fears when you are feeling fearful, find something that brings you comfort. It can be a pillow, blanket, old clothes, whatever. Also plan on bringing it with you to the hospital. I also recommend bringing your own clothes. It will help you take ownership of your space and your birth.
To put in the bag: a comfort item and your own clothes to wear during labor.
Day 14: Emergency birth
Where I live getting to the hospital or birth center, or even waiting for a midwife to come to your home can sometimes take a while. (It’s worse if there is traffic because there is only one way in and one way out.) For many people, knowing what to do if your baby is coming too fast for your care provider to arrive is a huge fear.
To help you understand what to do, I am attaching a handout on what to do in a situation like this. Mostly you just breathe, let your baby be born, keep yourself and baby warm and usually everything is okay.
For the bag: Make a birth kit to have at home just in case of emergencies. The link provided tells you what you may need.