Knowing your options, priorities and preferences will help
you plan for birth and have a satisfying experience.
Childbirth is one of the most empowering experiences a woman can have, sometimes the whole family feels empowered too. For you to feel empowered you need to be the key player of your story, gathering some information about childbirth and about yourself digging deeper in self-knowledge. It sounds complicated, but it’s not.
There’s some preparation that can lead you to be the protagonist of your experience, and it’s simple!
First, I’d like you to know that there’s no need to be uptight about it, no need to feel like you need to have everything under control. Sometimes giving birth has a lot to do with losing control… surrendering to the experience.
For you to surrender like this, you’ll need to feel confident in yourself and the ability you (already) have to give birth (as any other mammal). Also, you’ll want to find a team you trust to be with you during this vulnerable and wonderful moment of your life. When the woman giving birth doesn’t feel safe where she’s giving birth, her perception of her experience won’t be as satisfying as she desired. Her birth may take longer, be more painful and there are more chances of going through a cascade of interventions.
Trust is definitely a key concept here. You must trust yourself and those supporting you during labor and birth. If there’s no trust there, you can try to communicate your fears, concerns and desires with the medical team (your OB, midwife, etc), and see if there are compromising in both ways that could help you feel more confident. If the differences in perspective about childbirth are too big, you can reconsider the care provider you have now (it’s never too late to change).
When lack of confidence is regarding your own power of giving birth, you can look for good sources of evidence-based information that could give you the answers about this natural event on a woman’s life. Knowing more about childbirth can be really empowering, since you’ll see that it’s a physiological thing and both, you and your baby, are wired for it. Also, you could find support in prenatal groups, therapy, good friends, and other women whom have given birth too.
As you dive deep into yourself to know more about how a great childbirth experience would look like for you, and look for the right team to assist you, there are some other important things to guide you as well. They are your options, priorities and preferences.
Here are a few steps to guide you:
1) Decide what general approach to maternity care you prefer based on your priorities.
When looking in the eyes of your true wishes for your birth you’ll realize if they fit with an approach where you can be more self-reliant (using non-medical measures for comfort and taking part on the decisions about procedures and other care options);
or an approach where the caregiver can decide for you how to manage labor and relieve your pain (in this case you’d be more comfortable relying more in technology and medical resources than in your own knowledge - still empowered by this choice).
2) Learn about specific options available to you during labor and birth with the medical team you chose.
When talking with the medical team, you should be able to understand if the options they give you agree or disagree with your priorities.
3) Discover your preferences, then communicate them to your doctor or midwife.
When studying your options and priorities you’ll see what your preferences are. Communicating well is key to establish trust in the relationship with the team who will assist you during labor and birth. It's never too late to switch providers, as long as you feel confident with your choices.
“Giving birth can be deeply satisfying when you participate fully in the event and your care is tailored to match your wishes. To help you distinguish yourself as an individual with unique needs, it’s important to communicate your priorities and preferences for your care” - Penny Simkin (2010).
I hope this article has contributed to this precious moment of your life, adding some value to you while helping you to visualize what you have to do to prepare for birth.
As always, if you feel like getting in touch with me, please do. I’ll be happy to talk with you!
Reference: Pregnancy, childbirth, and the newborn: the complete guide / By Penny Simkin... [et al.].