As a doula, my main goal is for my clients to look back at their birth as a positive, empowering experience, even if the birth doesn't go as planned. Here are some tools to help accomplish this.
1. Educate Yourself
Take a childbirth education class. Whether you prefer in-person, virtual or on-demand learning, there are many different options available to educate yourself on all things childbirth. Read books. Listen to podcasts. There are so many good options available to you, and many at no cost to you.
2. Know Your Options
See above! The best way to learn your options is to be educated. A good childbirth education class will cover providers (OBGYN, midwife, etc.), where you'll deliver your baby (hospital, birth center, home), pain management options, etc. Childbirth educators will give you evidence-based information so you can plan your ideal birth and be prepared for whatever challenges you may face.
3. Find the Right Provider
This is so important. Finding a provider that supports you in your goals for childbirth may be the most crucial aspect of preparing for labor. Interview different providers, tell them your expectations, ask them about their experiences and don't be afraid to bring up any concerns you may have about your care. Remember, it's never too late to switch providers.
4. Build Your Support Team
Who do you want in the room with you when you're laboring? Your partner? Your mother? A doula? Decide who will be on your team, talk through different birth scenarios, and figure out how your team can best support you in each of those instances. Know what your ideal birth looks like, but also how you can feel supported if things don't go as planned.
5. Give Informed Consent
When someone considers their birth to be traumatic it's often because they feel their power was taken from them - that decisions were made on their behalf. They feel like things were done to them without their permission. It's important that you give informed consent before any procedure is done, medication is given or an exam is given. Use your voice!
6. Give Yourself Grace
Giving yourself grace is more of a mindset than an action. Choose to be kind to yourself. Celebrate your achievements, as large or small as they may be. Allow yourself to be imperfect. You may have expectations for how your birth will go and find it's not going as expected. Give yourself grace.