Hey there, mama-to-be!
So, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information (or lack thereof) about giving birth. Or, if you're like me, you're too concerned with questions about your pregnancy and life with a new baby, and you forgot about what comes between the two. (Yes, as a first-time-mom, I totally forgot to ask my doctor or do any research about what to expect and how to prepare for giving birth).
I want to help other moms know what to expect, so here are 9 things that will help you feel more prepared and in control.
(And hey, if these pique your interest, I've included questions you can ask your doctor or midwife at your next appointment!)
1) Epidurals are not the only form of pain relief available during labor.
Epidurals are a common form of pain relief during labor, but they are not the only option available. Other forms of pain relief include nitrous oxide, spinal blocks, and natural methods such as hypnobirthing, acupuncture and massage. These options can provide a more natural and less invasive form of pain relief.
Question for your doctor: What other pain relief options do they see often that’s effective other than epidural?
2) A tub or birthing pool can help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during labor.
Warm water can help ease the pain and discomfort of contractions, and it also allows you to move around more easily, which can help the baby move down the birth canal. Birthing pools can also provide a sense of privacy and intimacy during labor.
Question for your doctor: Are there birth pools at the hospital or another way I can use water to relax?
3) You might poop during labor (and that's okay!).
It's a normal and natural part of the birthing process, and your nurses and doctors or midwives are used to it. Don't let this concern hold you back, it's nothing to be embarrassed about.
4) Birthing positions - there are many different positions that can help make the birthing process easier.
There are various birthing positions that can help make the birthing process easier, such as standing up, sitting down, on your hands and knees, or even lying down. Experiment with different positions to find what feels most comfortable for you.
As a birth photographer, I've seen women squat to give birth, women give birth on their hands and knees, and I've seen women push while lying down, either on their back or their sides. There are many ways to birth a baby!
Question for your doctor: In what positions are you willing to help me birth my baby?
5) Doulas are a great support and aren’t only used for birth.
A doula is a professional trained to provide emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum period. A doula can help you with relaxation techniques, provide emotional support, and advocate for your wishes during birth.
Question for your doctor: Do you work with doulas often? Are there any you recommend?
6) You can eat and drink during labor, if you want to.
Having a light snack can help keep your energy levels up. It's important to listen to your body and your healthcare provider during labor, and to make sure you are well hydrated and nourished.
Question: Under what circumstances will I not be allowed to eat or drink in labor?
7) The power of the mind - visualization and other relaxation techniques can help during labor.
Visualization and relaxation techniques such as hypnobirthing, yoga, and meditation can help you stay calm and focused during labor. It can also help to lower stress hormones and increase endorphins, which can make labor more manageable.
Question: Is there anything I can do now to learn how to cope with labor?
8) You have choices for comfort if you have a Cesarean, too.
C-sections are a common form of delivery and can be planned or unplanned. In many cases, you can still listen to calming music during a c-section or use other relaxation techniques. You can request a clear drape if you'd like, and you still have the option for things like delayed cord clamping and golden hour.
Question: In what circumstances do you perform c-sections? What choices do I have for comfort during my c-section?
9) You don't have to give birth in the hospital, if you don't want to.
Giving birth at home or in a birth center can provide a more relaxed and intimate setting for the birth of your baby. It allows you to have more control over the birthing process and can provide a more personalized experience. This option is safe for low-risk pregnancies and has similar (and in some cases, better) outcomes compared to hospital births. Of course, if you feel more comfortable in a medical setting, or your pregnancy involves risks, then the hospital is likely the best way to go for you!
Question for your doctor: Would he/she support you and work with a home birth midwife if you decided to go this route?
So, there you have it, mama.
You're armed with some new information that will hopefully help you feel more confident and excited about your birth!