Here we go... in no particular order... Bluebonnet Birth Care's Top 5 Tips to Prepare for Birth and Baby!
1. Take a Childbirth Education Course
Childbirth is almost always a naturally occurring, non-emergent event, and yet if we don’t know what is going to happen to our body or our baby, then it can quickly feel like there is a problem. You have many options of where, how, when, and with whom you birth. How can you make those choices if you don’t know what they are? The worst thing you can do is walk into a hospital or birth center to give birth and let your doctor or midwife make all the decisions. I’m not saying that they won’t make good decisions, I’m saying that you are handing over control of the biggest physical and emotional event that may ever happen to you.
The best way to learn all about the process of childbirth, what you can expect, what is within the range or normal, what your options are regarding location, intervention, procedures, breastfeeding, and more… is taking a childbirth education course. You have many options, so I recommend researching the options below AND ask your mommas who have birthed how you wish to birth what they did to prepare. The key is asking mommas who birthed how you want to! There are many different options on a wide scale ranging from birthing alone in a forest all the way to a scheduled C-section. You need to find your tribe! (This will also be huge when the meanie moms out there shame you for something you are doing when it comes to birthing, parenting, or you know, just being you. Grrr. Don't let them shake your courage, mom!)
Childbirth Education Options:
The Bradley Method (love me some Jodi Rohr!)
Birth Boot Camp
“If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any.”
- Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer, A Good Birth, A Safe Birth
2. Create a Daily Self-care Ritual
Pregnancy is hard on the body, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. Yes, there are so many crazy weird things happening, ahem—poop problems, balloon feet, having to literally rock back and forth to finish peeing since a baby is sitting right on top of your bladder, the roller coaster that is your emotions and your sex drive, gassiness, hemorrhoids, and so much more. Meanwhile, you’re supposed to just keep on keeping on like you aren’t busy growing an eyeball (Ali Wong’s Netflix special, anyone?).
My advice—find a DAILY self-care ritual and stick to it!
For me this was: 1. Drinking a protein shake that I loved and was full of the veggies that I wasn’t going to eat anyways. 2. Going for a 25 minute walk around the neighborhood (which I actually stuck to everyday except Hurricane Harvey! It’s maybe the most commitment I’ve ever had to something other than my marriage!) 3. Listening to The Birth Hour while I walked.
Maybe for you it involves a daily bath, getting a massage from your partner, some form of exercise, journaling, podcasts, books, good nutrition, lots of water. Whatever it is… find it and stick to it. Find an anchor to your day, something positive and healthy you can look forward to everyday. It's super important while you are experiencing all of the changes that come with pregnancy.
3. Read, Watch, Listen
Like I mentioned above, knowledge is power. It IS possible to learn or know too much, unless you’re planning to become an OB or midwife!!; however you need to have a good base of knowledge and uplifting experiences to fall back on when you’re in the middle of labor. To know what to expect AND remember that other women have done this exactly how you are!
I recommend picking good books, documentaries, and podcasts to listen to that are specifically geared toward helping you achieve the birth experience you want to have. This is especially important if you want to have an out-of-hospital birth because you will need to re-write what “normal” birth looks like. Our society as a majority births at the hospital, and it can be daunting to choose a different route. By interjecting positive videos, stories, or information, you can get to your baby’s BIRTHday and realize that to you out-of-hospital has become the more normal way to birth. If you want to have an un-medicated hospital birth, you should do the same thing, just seek out stories and videos and books that will help you with that!
The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer
Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz
The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah J. Buckley, MD
The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth by Genevieve Howland
The Birth Hour Podcast
Doing it at Home Podcast
Any articles from Evidence Based Birth
4. Go to the Chiropractor
The wonderful midwife who taught my doula certification told us during our training that when she looked at the length of labor in her first-time moms the common denominator in moms with shorter labors is that they all went to the chiropractor.
Think of it this way: straighter runway = better path out for the baby!
My encouragement to you is to find a chiropractor with experience with pregnant women AND newborn babies and start going as often as you go to your care provider. For instance, you might start at one time per month, then every two weeks, then every week.
Then, when your baby is born, she can go too. Birth is a physically challenging experience for baby plus she may have been stuck in a funny position for a while! My son has been getting a chiropractic adjustment since he was 5 days old. Often times, a chiropractic adjustment can help with nursing too in the case of baby having a tight jaw, sore neck, or weak muscles.
Two that I recommend:
Dr. Aaron Chapa with Living Well Nutrition
Dr. Lauren Martin with Martin Chiropractic
5. Hire a Doula
Shameless plug, here. Of course, I think this is one of the best things you could do, otherwise I wouldn’t have become one!
A doula is your birth angel.
She encourages, supports, comforts, helps you cope with pain, protects your birth plan, gives you the information needed to make decisions, helps you handle fear, stress, or doubts, and she is the best person suited to help your partner help support you.
She dedicates her time to learning all about birth to make sure you have the best experience possible.
She helps you find your voice.
She applies counter pressure or hip squeezes until she needs them herself from being bent over. Or until her arms want to fall off.
She patiently waits as you birth your way without pushing her agenda or her time frame.
She misses her own children so she can be with you when you meet yours.
Trust me when I say, you need one. Whether it’s me or someone else, find a doula who you vibe with and lock her down! You may think it’s too expensive, but this is BIRTH. It will change your life. Your birth experience is powerful. You need to protect it as best you can!
Hope these Top 5 tips resonate with you!
I’d love to hear about what you are doing to prepare for your baby’s BIRTHday! Comment below or on Bluebonnet Birth Care's Facebook Page!
There is undeniably a mind-body connection in everything we do, especially in childbirth! Birth is a very physical experience; however, it's equally as much, if not more, a mental and emotional experience. It all works together as you welcome your little baby into the world.
Whether you are in a hospital or at home, or you've gotten an epidural or not, or you're planning a vaginal birth or c-section, birth is challenging. It's a life-transforming experience that proves to you that you are tough as nails, ready to fight for your baby through whatever life throws at you. That you are stronger than contractions, the ring of fire, the c-section recovery, the sore nipples, the endless sleepless nights, the tantrums, the moodiness, the baby blues or postpartum depression, the grief, the times where you want to throw in the towel, or you simply don't know what to do.
For me and my experience of birth and postpartum, birth affirmations were a powerful way to CHOOSE what I wanted in my head. Instead of, "I can't do this", or "I'm in so much pain", or "This is too hard", I dwelled on encouraging affirmations to make up a powerful mental script. I remembered chanting "I can do hard things" and "I am strong enough" as the contractions surged on. I stared at my birth affirmation banner when I didn't know if I could nurse him even one-more-time, and here I am still nursing my baby boy 5 months later.
I'm an advocate for YOU being in control of your experience. No matter the cards you're dealt, you get to play them. With that comes an immense responsibility to prepare for birth and prepare for motherhood. True, you are never really fully prepared. However, you can put on your battle gear and get ready for the fight. Lace up your running shoes and train for the marathon. Strap on your parachute to jump out of the plane. Birth affirmations, among other things, ARE the battle gear, the running shoes, and the parachute. They can help get you through the moments of pain, weakness, insecurity, and vulnerability. They help you train for the big day and all the days of motherhood beyond.
You can do this mom! You ARE doing it. You are powerful beyond measure, and you CAN do hard things.
I've made these birth affirmation coloring pages. Spend some time coloring them however you want to, cut them out, and hang them where you can read them daily. Bring them with you to the hospital or birth center. And trust that they will be programmed deep into your brain for you to tap into when you need them most!