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Whether you are pregnant with your first child or your third, your birth story is important.  Each birth is unique and the day that your baby enters the world is an event that you will never forget. Though it is impossible to completely plan your birth, it is vital to be prepared and know your options. As a labor and delivery nurse, it often strikes me that so many of my patients enter the hospital without any real knowledge or idea of what to expect. Others check in to deliver with a specific plan for how they want childbirth to happen, and cling to this plan even when things do not unfold the way they had hoped.  Childbirth requires a delicate balance between planning and surrender. Here are a few great ways to prepare for your ideal childbirth and remain open to a change in your birth plan.

Birth Stories 

Reading other women’s birth stories is one of the most important ways to prepare for your best birth experience! Even if this is your third pregnancy and you feel that you have it handled, there may have been some parts of your previous births that did not go as planned. Perhaps you ended up with an induction, a long labor, or an unwanted cesarean section. It is important to heal any parts of the experience so that you don’t enter into the next childbirth with fear.

Birth with Balance (plug in site http://birthwithbalance.com) is one of the best websites available to share your birth story or read birth stories of other mothers. If this is your first pregnancy the website provides empowering birth stories that will offer advice and alternatives to keep you up to date. If you have already given birth the site is a great place to share your own birth story in order to reflect, heal, or teach other mothers.  Birth with Balance is a place where women teach women through first hand experience. This site was created to give women a forum to share their stories in any language, read the stories of others, and learn more about the incredible, inspiring, and always personal phenomenon of childbirth. This beats a book or a doctor any day.

Take Child Birth Education Classes

There are so many options when it comes to childbirth education classes.  The pain of labor is what most women worry about and choose to take a course which will best help them get a grip on this. If you are preparing for a natural childbirth here are short descriptions on a few options.

Lamaze

Lamaze supports natural labor and birth through controlled breathing and progressive relaxation techniques (which the mother should practice daily).  This system believes that labor should begin on its own. The woman is encouraged to walk and move around. There should be continuous support with her throughout the process.

 Find more info on Lamaze: http://www.lamaze.org/p/cm/ld/fid=1

The Bradley Method

This method encourages the father or partner to be involved and aims for a natural birth with minimal interventions. The class runs up to 12 sessions meeting weekly. Focus is on a well-balanced diet, exercise, taking responsibility during pregnancy and birth (remaining informed), education through healthcare providers and books, and relaxation. Nearly 90% of mothers who use the Bradley Method do not use pain medication in labor.

Find more info on The Bradley Method: http://www.bradleybirth.com

Hypno-Birthing

Hypno-Birthing believes that with the absence of fear or tension, labor and delivery can be relatively pain-free. The method doesn’t promise to put you in a trance, but more of a dreamlike state.  Anxiety is reduced and confidence is increased through continual application of the technique at home before birth.

Find more info on Hypno-Birthing HERE http://hypnobirthing.com

Birthing From Within

Birthing from Within courses are custom-tailored to what the parents want to learn and discuss.  They encourage the release of fear through birth art and journaling.

Find more info on Birthing from Within:  http://www.birthingfromwithin.com

Look into Hiring a Doula

It is difficult to research how deep the human need for caring and nurturing is, but during labor it is a priority. Dr. Marshall Klaus, M.D. and Dr. John Kennell, M.D. have done a substantial amount of research on doulas. They found that for first time mothers the presence of a doula shortened labor by an average of two hours and reduced the rate of cesarean section by 50 percent (Northrup 460).  It was also noted that doula support could save the healthcare system an average of 2 billion per year by reducing epidurals, fevers, surgery, and interventions.  A doula reduces the need for anesthesia by her continuous presence. She will help you plan your best birth and be at your side even if the plan changes.

 

 

Ever heard of tocophobia? It’s a term used to describe the fear of childbirth. Researchers in Sweden have found that when expectant fathers experience tocophobia, it may have negative effects on the birth experiences of their partners.

The study, titled 'Psychoprophylaxis - Antenatal preparation and actual use during labour', by Malin Bergström found that many of these men were fearful not only of the process of childbirth, but in their roles as parents as well. There have been some signs to indicate that tocophobia contributed to an increase in cesarean sections, pointing to the need for birth professionals to address these fears with expecting parents.

Since the study, the Swedish Medical University has begun providing childbirth preparation classes featuring the use of psychoprophylaxis (relaxation techniques) for all expectant parents with good results.

Childbirth educators encourage both mother and partner to participate in class discussions to try and address these common fears about labor and early parenting. Educational models such as the Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing, and Birthing from Within place a great deal of emphasis on the partner as a strong yet calm source of strength for the woman in labor by teaching the partner relaxation techniques like massage and affirmations.

In another study on childbirth education classes from Lamaze International* the researchers discovered the rate of attendance for childbirth courses, and particularly courses lasting more than one session, has been decreasing over the past several years. Couples are encouraged to take lengthier courses, independent of the hospital preparation courses to get a more complete training in birth support.

Additionally, hiring a doula can help parents receive one-on-one training in these techniques and a sense of security in asking questions concerning any anxieties in an intimate and supportive setting. Doulas also help the partner to feel comfortable that everything is going well in labor, knowing that the mother will never be left alone and that there is a constant source of guidance and expertise by their side.

For a list of childbirth educators in your area, visit the International Childbirth Educators Association website.

Source:

*Contemporary Dilemmas in American Childbirth Education: Findings From a Comparative Ethnographic Study, Christine H. Morton, PhD and Clarissa Hsu, PhD, Journal of Perinatal Medicine Fall 2007

Published in Just For Dad

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