Five Ways to Prepare for an Optimal Birth

By Deb Davies, L.Ac.

I have assisted hundreds of couples to help prepare for an optimal birth experience and through these years I have gathered some of the top ways to prepare for the birth experience of your dreams that I’d like to share with you today!

1. Get your Partner involved

The number one way to prepare yourself for an optimal birth experience is having your partner on board as support during labor and delivery is the most powerful tool for a more relaxing, comforting and even pleasurable birth!

Ideally, the vibe of the laboring room would be similar to the environment when the baby was conceived. The lights should be dimmed; the space should be nice and quiet. The birth support team should exude patience and there should be no rushing or setting up, instead all should be prepared well in advance.

The laboring Mom should feel safe, respected and loved. Your partner can help by loving on you, whether it is with kisses, touch, and/or sexual stimulation. If your partner gives you a nice massage or a hot juicy kiss during your labor, chances are the next surge or wave you experience will feel less intense if even felt at all. When Mom is happy and relaxed, the body releases the love hormone or Oxytocin, which helps reduce the intensity and pressure during labor and birth. Partners can help Mom change positions and even lending a helping hand to help her get up to go to the bathroom, or change positions can be extremely helpful. In some cases laughter, kisses, and sensual touch could even lead Mom to possibly an orgasmic birth.

2. Hire a doula

Hands down, the best investment in your birth is to hire a doula. Having a doula at your birth is as important as having flowers at your wedding. A doula is a labor companion that supports both you and your partner during labor and delivery.

Often, a doula is hired in the second trimester to help give the Mom plenty of time to prepare for her labor and becoming a mother. Typically the doula meets with the parents to be several times prior to the labor to discuss any fears or concerns, find the best coping methods for you, find out your preferences and also discuss worst case scenarios. A doula provides continuous emotional, mental and physical support to the laboring Mom, partner and family. Doulas help relieve the partners so they are able to eat, rest or communicate with others outside the birth. A doula can offer suggestions on how the partner can be more involved and how to navigate the potential myriad of interventions at some of the hospitals for the various possibilities that do come up during birth. Hiring a doula can reduce the need for interventions, including inductions and C-sections.

3. Educate yourself

Education is empowerment. Learn the difference between midwifery care and the medical care model. Take a childbirth class, or several prenatal classes. It’s best to take the birthing classes outside of the hospital you are delivering at (if you are delivering in a hospital) to help you prepare for the labor and delivery most open to all options. There are so many kinds of classes these days, parenting classes, breast feeding classes, pets and your new baby class, and on and on. Find out more and discuss your ideal birth, as well as concerns or fears. Ask questions, a lot of questions all the time. Did you know you can interview your doctor or midwife to find the care provider best for you? At least in San Diego there are tons of options for hospitals, birth centers or home births. When you tour the facilities ask all your important questions. Ask about typical births in their facilities, or options for natural birth. Calling into Labor and Delivery & asking these same questions day or night can help you find out which policies may cause you concern or possibly consider switching care providers or facilities. You are allowed to change at any time. Some women have changed care providers at 38 weeks to deliver one week later. Others have left hospitals in labor searching for better care. Education equals empowerment and options.

4. Practice relaxation

Make yourself ultra comfortable, whether it is laying down or sitting. Pillows to prop or support any body part for optimal relaxation. Close your eyes or consider purchasing 40 Blinks (the best investment ever). Listen to soft music or pregnancy/birth affirmations while relaxing and visualizing your ideal birth. Think about your body easily opening and your baby knowing exactly what to do to gently slide out of your body and into your arms. The more relaxed you are the quicker labor typically rolls thru you. If you have a clenched jaw this can also mean your pelvis is clenched tight. If you relax your face muscles it can help relax your entire body. Taking deep breaths, and slowing down your breathing helps calm the mind and release tension. Breathe in. Breathe out. Repeat.

5. Make space for the birth

Birth takes time. In our typical modern lives with so much always going on, with never ending emails pouring in, texts and calls to respond to, social media tags, and posts, it is hard to just relax and be. Waiting to have a baby can be very trying on your nerves especially the last couple weeks or days of pregnancy. The impending “due date” is like a target on the calendar that often comes and goes. And like that watched pot that never boils. In the last days of pregnancy it can take an enormous amount of energy to let your body relax enough to open and allow the baby to pass thru. Do not try to keep up with anything more than your doctor or midwife visits. SLOW DOWN. Take more naps. Turn your phone off. Visit your local acupuncturist & chiropractic. Ask for help. Hire a house cleaner. Make sure to stop working by 38 weeks. The body needs time to unwind from our stressful day-to-day lives to be able to go to the safe calm of natural birth. Get quiet time alone in nature and in relaxed environments. Connect to your baby. Talk to the baby letting him or her know all will be alright. Trust your baby knows what to do. If you are calm and relaxed your baby will be calm and relaxed.

Trust your body.

Trust the process.

Trust birth.