Posts Tagged ‘pregnant woman’

8 Tips to Prepare for a Drug-Free Birth

Friday, April 27th, 2012

A growing number of pregnant women desire to have a drug-free, intervention-free birth. While there is ample information available regarding the benefits to both mother and baby of having a drug-free birth, information on how to optimally prepare for an unmedicated birth seems less accessible or tangible. Subsequently many pregnant woman are unsure how to prepare for the birth they desire and are left to “hope things work out”. Or they fall under the “trust birth” spell, that proclaims simply trusting the process of birth and your body are the magical answer to the mysteries of birth. While trust is an important part of the equation, there are additional ways a woman can actively prepare herself mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the birth she desires.

1. Develop a Positive Support System – Immerse yourself in the natural birth community to the greatest extent possible. Talk with women who have given birth without drugs to hear their stories and experiences. These women can offer an abundance of wisdom regarding birth beyond what any textbook can provide you. Surround yourself with caring, compassionate individuals who support the birth you desire. Avoid circles/conversations that convey messages of doubt, negativity, anxiety, or trauma around birthing without the use of drugs. Fill your heart and mind with empowering birth stories that make you feel excited about your upcoming birth.

2. Select a Supportive Care Provider – The maternal health care partners that support you during pregnancy and birth have a big impact on your experience! Therefore I encourage you to be highly selective in the care provider you choose. Take time to interview several different care providers to find one you are comfortable with and will provide the type of care you desire (and deserve!). Also don’t be afraid to switch providers at any time during your pregnancy if you start to have doubts about your care provider. I have even heard remarkable stories of women switching care providers during labor because they did not like how they were being treated by their care provider. If you are unsure how to find a care provider start by asking for referrals from friends who have had positive birth experiences. Although keep in mind that each woman’s needs during pregnancy and birth are highly unique so what was a good fit for a close friend may not necessarily be a good fit for you.

3. Take Good Care of Yourself During Pregnancy – Eating well, exercising gently, staying well hydrated, getting proper rest, and minimizing stress during pregnancy all have a direct impact on childbirth. Something as simple as getting ample fluids can help prevent some potentially serious medical conditions during pregnancy. Know that pregnancy is a special time in your life that requires extra special care; remember YOU are the sole source of nurture/nutrition for a new life. Make caring for yourself a high priority because in doing so you are also caring for your baby.

4. Watch Videos of Drug Free Births – Sadly in our modern society most of exposure to birth is from TV shows or movies that don’t depict birth in an authentic way. Yet we cling to these depictions because we are hungry for information about birth. Even reality TV shows don’t accurately portray birth as they are carefully edited to ensure an element of drama and suspense. Instead hop on youtube and search for natural birth videos to see what birth really looks and sounds like.

5. Take a Childbirth Education Class – Attending a childbirth education class can be an invaluable tool to preparing for childbirth. In addition to better understanding the mechanics of labor, you will also learn various pain coping techniques. Research the various approaches available (ie- The Bradley Method, Hypnobabies, Birthing From Within, Lamaze, etc) and pick one that best suits you.

6. Practice Relaxation Techniques throughout your Pregnancy – There are many different effective relaxation techniques women can use to cope during labor, however you need to learn and practice them in advance. Make the time to practice frequently during the course of your pregnancy, particularly when you experience any discomforts associated with pregnancy.

7. Hire a Doula – A doula is a non-medical labor, birth, and postpartum support person. A doula is educated and trained to provide a laboring mother physical and emotional support. There is a strong evidence base of positive birth outcomes when a doula is used. Check out DONA International for more information about doulas.

8. Avoid Artificial Induction – Statistics demonstrate that artificial inductions leads to higher rates of intervention including use of pain medication and cesarean. To the greatest extent possible allow labor to start spontaneously. If for some reason you do need to be induced consider starting with the least invasive methods.

What tips do you have for a pregnant woman who desires an unmedicated birth? 

-Sarah

How to Create a Birth Plan

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

Creating a Birth Plan

Creating a birth plan can be a helpful way to communicate your desires for your birth experience. It can serve as an opportunity to make pro-active and conscious decisions regarding various aspects of childbirth. A birth plan can also help you prepare mentally and emotionally for the birth of your child. The process of creating a birth plan often helps clarify ideas about what you want as a mother and for your baby.

Sharing the birth plan with others allows you to effectively communicate your ideas about birth. Optimally this instills a sense of confidence and empowerment about the journey ahead. Occasionally I hear women become discouraged from writing a birth plan because it may attach them to a certain outcome. What happens if the birth goes differently than I ‘planned’? Perhaps a birth plan should more aptly be named a “statement of birth desires.” I believe a birth plan is simply a tool to cultivate your wishes and desires for your birth. I encourage you, the pregnant woman, to create a birth plan and openly share it with anyone who will be involved in your birth experience.

In writing a birth plan, it may be helpful to organize using the four categories found below. Under each one I provide questions to provoke thought on the topic, as well as, a few example statements that you might see included on a birth plan. Generally a birth plan that is shared with others would be no more than a page in length and written in concise, easy-to-read bullet points. Additionally, it is more helpful to state what you DO want versus what you DON’T want. For example:  Delay cord cutting until it has stopped pulsating instead of don’t immediately cut cord, but it is ok to state a few things you don’t want too. Your birth plan will be unique to you and reflect your thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and desires regarding your birth.

Especially if this is your first birth, know that this is just a very helpful guide to prepare you and those around you as you go through this experience. Labor is an amazing experience and in the process, things may change, your desires may change, and that is OK.

Labor

Forget about what you see on TV. Think about how you want YOUR labor experience to occur. This is YOUR body, and YOUR birth experience and who better than YOU to make a plan for it!

Who is with you? What is their role? What is happening in the environment? Are people talking to you, touching you, comforting you? Or are you quietly in your own mental space? What pain management tools are you using? What type of monitoring is being used and what is the frequency of it?

Example statements:

  • Allow labor to begin and proceed spontaneously without augmentation
  • Access to drink and food throughout labor as desired
  • Vaginal exams to be conducted by mother’s request only

Birth

What is the role of your care provider as you push? Are they coaching you? Are they observing you? What tools are used to support you during the pushing phase? Who is present? Is someone taking pictures and/or video?

Example statements:

  • Birthing location and position is determined by mother and baby
  • I want to be able to move around and change positions during birthing
  • Father catches baby and immediately places baby on mother’s chest
  • Allow the placenta to be birthed on its own accord without pictocin

Immediate Post-Partum

What do you imagine those first few minutes of baby’s life outside of the womb to be like? Who is handling baby? What is being done to you? What is being done to baby?

Example Statements

  • Perform APGAR test and any similar newborn screens while mother holds baby
  • Baby is first weighed upon request of mother
  • All fluids from birth remain on baby until mother request baby is wiped down

 Post- Partum Mother and Newborn Care

The hours following birth are a sacred bonding time for mother and baby. Regardless of birth circumstance, this bonding time should be well-supported by health care providers. Ideally care providers employ evidence based practices that promote successful breastfeeding.

Example Statements:

  • Baby remains with mother at all times
  • Baby is exclusively breastfed
  • Mother and baby skin- to-skin time is strongly encouraged

An important part of creating a birth plan is having care providers that will support and respect your birth plan. Give a copy of this plan to your care provider. If you are birthing in a hospital, make sure to pack 2 copies in your hospital bag. Give one to the nurse when you check-in and have another with you in your room so that you and your significant other can reference it easily.

Tomorrow’s post will discuss selecting maternal health care partners.

Did you write a birth plan? Was it helpful to your birth experience? What do you feel important to include in a birth plan?

-Sarah