- Hire a doula
Having a doula by your side during your birth can provide incredible support. Doulas offer emotional, physical and informational assistance, ensuring you have continuous care throughout your journey to parenthood.
A doula will meet with you several times prenatally to get to know you and discuss your preferences for your birth so they can support you in the best possible way on your big day.
When you go into labour, they’ll either meet you in your home to support you during your labour there and if you’re birthing outside your home, they’ll accompany you to your chosen place of birth. During labour your Doula is a true multitasker who supports both you and your birthing partner in a number of ways:
- Making sure you stay rested, hydrated and nourished.
- Providing comfort measures and suggesting different positions to help with pain and discomfort.
- Filling in any gaps in information about interventions or care that might be offered by your care team so you can make your own informed decisions.
- Being a constant presence you can turn to as staff changes shifts, and strangers come and go during your birth.
- Creating an environment that promotes a calmer birth experience.
- Providing moral support, and so much more!
Bonus: the presence of a Doula during birth has been shown to reduce the need for medical interventions and enhance the overall birth experience.
- Sign up for a HypnoBirth program
HypnoBirth is a method that uses self-hypnosis, deep relaxation, visualisation and other mind-body modalities to promote a calm and gentle birth experience. It helps you release fears and gives you tools to help ease pain and discomfort so you can better surrender to the process of birthing in harmony with your body, and your baby
Hypnosis allows you to foster a deep connection with your baby during pregnancy, and your birth, and has been shown to dramatically increase birth satisfaction levels, alongside a number of other benefits including : higher rates of vaginal delivery vs. c-section, fewer medical interventions, shorter labour times, and earlier skin-to-skin and initiating of breastfeeding.
Here are some things to look for in a HypnoBirth program:
Does it include support for the postpartum period? This piece is often overlooked in many programs yet hypnosis can be greatly beneficial to postpartum recovery, both physical and emotional.
Is the course instructor an experienced hypnosis practitioner in addition to a solid background in childbirth education? Having an instructor who really knows the ins and outs of hypnosis and can adapt the experience to your needs can be a valuable addition to your birth preparation.
What format are classes available in? Many programs offer a group format only, which may be the perfect fit for you. However, if you have more specific concerns about your birth and would like a program that’s more tailored to your unique journey, finding a program with private classes may be better suited.
Is the program inclusive? Many programs are still designed around a heteronormative, cisnormative narrative that assumes the person giving birth is a “mother” and assigned female at birth. Families that fall outside of this narrative, such as a birthing father, or a birthing person, may be more comfortable with a program that offers a more gender diverse and inclusive approach.
Is it focused solely on natural birth, or non hospital birth? Or does it also give you the tools to prepare for birth in a variety of birth settings (home, hospital, natural birth, medicated birth, c-section…)
- Choose your birth place and care team
Take some time to reflect upon the place of birth where you’ll feel safe, comfortable and supported. For some, a homebirth is going to check all of these boxes, for others, the hospital is going to be the right environment. And the choice that resonates with you as a resounding yes, is usually the right one for your journey.
Depending on where you live, your choice of care team will often be directly related to your chosen place of birth. Here in Québec for example, midwives work out of dedicated structures and can be present for a homebirth, or birth in a birthing centre or hospital, but their availability is very limited versus the demand. The majority of births tend to be under the care of a family practitioner or OBGYN. In other countries, or even provinces, midwifery care is more the norm regardless of the birth setting. When a pregnancy is deemed high risk, care will usually be with an OBGYN.
When choosing a care provider, look for a practitioner who aligns with your birth preferences and choices, and practices informed consent. And this leads me straight into the next point…
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions
And this begins with choosing your place of birth and care team. Advocacy begins with curiosity! Ask questions, seek clarification, and ensure you have a clear understanding of your options and any potential interventions.
This is YOUR birth experience and your voice matters, so go ahead and put yourself front and centre of your journey!
- Research evidence-based birth practices
Because knowledge is power! Ask your questions, and also equip yourself with resources on evidence-based practices such as books, websites and reputable organisations. One source I usually recommend is Evidence Based Birth® (www.evidencebasedbirth.com).
This knowledge will allow you to make informed decisions about your care and help empower you to make choices that align with your birth preferences and values.
- Nourish your mind and body
You are growing a new life, and preparing for one of your most life-changing moments!
Prioritise your self-care throughout your pregnancy by engaging in practices that nourish not only your physical wellbeing, but also your emotional wellbeing. Prenatal yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation, breathwork and healthy nutrition are some great areas to start with.
- Prepare for your postpartum recovery
Don’t overlook the importance of getting ready for your postpartum period BEFORE you give birth! This is a piece that tends to be left until after the baby arrives, and then, you find yourself busy, often overwhelmed, and already well in the throes of postpartum recovery.
Take some time before your baby arrives to plan and organise ways for you to get maximum rest and self-care in the weeks following your birth. Stock up on food and other essentials, and gather the resources you’ll need to aid your recovery and allow you to focus on bonding with your baby.
Organise a food train with family and friends, look into organising help around the house, and if anyone asks what to get you for a gift… ask for gift cards for food or a cleaning service, rather than yet another onesie.
Remember, it truly takes a village to raise a baby so go ahead and create your village!