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You ALWAYS have a choice in birth, in pregnancy, as a parent.  Always.  Even when it appears that there are no choices available for your birth, you still get to make the choice to make a choice, or not.  You get to decide if you want to learn something new, try something untried, travel, be at home, just say No Thanks, or learn a new perspective on your situation.

Birth choices can sometimes be hard.  Birth Choices can challenge our views.  Birth Choices can challenge our beliefs.  Birth Choices can sometimes not feel like choices at all.  But the fact remains, you will be making choices that support your birth everyday.  Let's look at what these choices might be:

Birth Choices for Optimal Nutrition

Adequate nutrients allows your hormones to function adequately (including oxytocin), your body to digest what it eats (avoiding toxin overload and even hemorrhoids), and nourish your growing baby.  You get to choose what you eat, drink, don't eat, and don't drink.  Some of these choices you make may include:

  • Reducing or eliminating added sugar
  • Reducing or eliminating unnecessary caffeine drinks - switching to herbal coffee - switching to nourishing tea
  • Drinking enough
  • Eating hydrating foods
  • Eating donuts and cookies
  • Eating enough greens
  • Eating all the colors of the rainbow
  • Reducing processed foods
  • Making your own processed foods
  • Reading labels
  • Learning about balanced nutrition
  • Getting healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
  • Eating whole foods
  • Eating fast food
  • Trying a new dinner
  • Learning to cook
  • Leading the family with healthy habits
  • Explaining to your family the necessity for healthy eating
  • Reducing or eliminating dairy and other allergens
  • Eating enough
  • Eating small meals throughout the day
  • Getting support for healthy eating habits
  • Taking it one food at a time - one meal at a time - one step at a time

What can you add here?  What questions do you have about nutrition that you feel like you're stuck in a choice?

Birth Choices for Optimal Alignment

Aligned movement throughout the day provides you with optimal comfort, supports your growing baby (avoiding pregnancy "symptoms"), and improves the birth process due to fetal positioning.  Aligned movement also improves healing postpartum and helps avoid common breastfeeding concerns like painful nursing and "tongue tie."  Birth choices for alignment that you can make may include:

  • Seeing a physical therapist & receiving body work
  • Moving more
  • Moving better
  • Checking your body and pelvis alignment
  • Stretching often
  • Walking more
  • Getting rid of the positive rise shoes (yes, including sneakers and many "flats" and men's shoes)
  • Developing butt muscles
  • Using your whole body for movement
  • Joining a movement group like Esali Birth's MOV for Birth walks or hosting one yourself
  • Creating a dynamic work station where you sit, stand, stretch your legs, squat, lie down...etc.
  • Balance your movement to keep all movement and sedentary positions at equal amounts
  • Squat to eliminate, like with a Squatty Potty.

What is your favorite way to move?  Have you checked your alignment?  Are you feeling "symptoms" of pregnancy that are actually "symptoms" of ill-health and poor alignment?  Make the connections and feel better!

Birth Choices for Optimal Oxytocin

Oxytocin, among many other hormones, is vital for a happy healthy birth.  Oxytocin allows spontaneous labor, allows labor progression (with proper alignment), prevents postpartum hemorrhage, helps us to bond with our baby, creates the breastfeeding experience, and brings us closer as a family.  There are many moments throughout your day to improve oxytocin which may include:

  • Relationship building activities
  • Relationship therapy
  • General or trauma therapy
  • Birth counseling & perinatal mentoring
  • Eye gazing
  • Touching
  • Tea with a friend
  • Petting your dog
  • Back rubs and massages
  • Saying "Three Nice Things"
  • Learning about the birth industry and birth physiology to reduce fear

Do you feel at ease with birth?  Are you fearful of something in the birth process?

Birth Choices for Care Provider & Birth Team

The people you have with you during birth from friends and family to the doula, the nurses, the midwives and the obstetricians, all influence your options for birth and how you feel.  Care provider and birth team options available (though sometimes you have to be savvy about finding them) include:

  • Choosing unassisted birth
  • Selecting a doula
  • Midwifery Care
  • Family Practitioner Care
  • Obstetric Care
  • A combination of midwives and doctors
  • Licensed providers & unlicensed providers
  • Adding people to your birth space
  • Removing people from your birth space
  • Telling one of the staff to leave your birth space or "firing" your provider
  • Knowing your birth rights

Does the relationship with your birth team feel connected?  Do you feel trust between those you've

Birth Choices for Birth Location

Where you birth goes hand in hand with who you allow in your birth space.  Where you birth not only dictates the routines that are common, but also the amount of control and comfort you have for making decisions.  Birth location choices may include:

  • Home birth
  • Birthing in the woods
  • Birthing at a friend's house
  • Birthing at a hotel
  • Birth Center Birth
  • Hospital Birth
  • Birthing at your midwife's house
  • Changing your mind about your birth location, for any reason, during pregnancy
  • Changing your mind about your birth location, for any reason, during birth or postpartum

Your birth location isn't set in stone.  You can decide to change anything about your birth location and care provider at any point in time.

Birth Choices for Healing & Support

Knowing what you have available for support helps you reach out in times of need.  Healing and support options for birth may include:

  • Researching care providers, therapists, breastfeeding supporters, postpartum care, mom groups, family groups, loss groups, play groups
  • Writing down contact information for people and keeping it handy
  • Actually calling the people available for support
  • Paying for support
  • Asking your insurance if they will cover support
  • Resting
  • Journaling
  • Reducing the activities on the schedule
  • Taking off extra time from work
  • Quitting your job
  • Changing jobs
  • Changing work schedules
  • Telling your family how to help
  • Expecting your family to help
  • Prepping meals and snacks and routines when extra hands are available
  • Asking for meals (at any time)
  • Finding a mother helper
  • Not asking for support
  • Doing it all or not doing it all

You don't have to do it all.  Period.

Birth Choices to Speak Up

You get to decide if you speak up about what you need.  It can be hard to do that, but you get that choice.  Finding the group that supports your desires is easier - it means less arguing and adrenaline in your birth space (or during pregnancy or postpartum). Some options for speaking up include:

  • Saying, "No Thanks."
  • Saying, "Not Right Now."
  • Asking for privacy
  • Getting a new nurse, provider, asking someone to please leave your home
  • Being respectful and being forward
  • Refusing an induction
  • Refusing vaginal exams
  • Refusing a cesarean
  • Finding a lawyer
  • Standing up and signing yourself out
  • Keeping your baby with you
  • Telling people thank you for their care
  • Changing your mind

It may take time to have the confidence to speak up, but THIS is the most important choice because YOU get to decide if you remain silent.  Sometimes there are so many routines in our world others don't think automatically about what each individual person wants.  It is OK to ask for what you want.  You do not have to do what someone else says simply because they recommend it (or are disrespectful).

There are a lot of people that care about you and your birth and respect that mothers and families are capable of making informed decisions.  Know this about yourself, and you now know that the choice is yours.

 

 

It is common for mothers to hear the word "doula" and a birth story that goes along with it and believe the doula was the most important part of the positive birth experience.  While a doula does provide a level of trust and comfort to a mother, this would be typical of most anyone that is comfortable and confident in the physiology of birth providing continuous support to the mother.  The key to a positive birth experience, however, is knowledge and utilizing your human rights to make your own birth decisions.

Maybe you've heard, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink," and that statement very much applies to birth decisions.  A doula can show you paths to take, and caution you of possible road bumps along the way, but they cannot create your healthy birth.  A doula should no make your birth decisions.  Making your own birth decisions is a significant part of feeling empowered from the birth and bringing confidence in your abilities into parenting, specifically early parenting.

Birth Choices and your Birth Journey

This birth, this pregnancy, is a part of your journey.  Your experience now and in the future will shape who you are as a human.  What you experience is meant for you, and the the way people experience the journey with you is meant for them.  There really isn't a right or wrong answer when it comes to birth choices.  However, we don't simply get the birth journey we're meant to have because we have influence over much of our experience.

You grow from your birth journey through the way you interact with your pregnancy, birth and postpartum.  The way you feel now will be similar to the way you feel during birth.  Build your confidence now, and your confidence will grow in birth.  Improve your physical health, and you will experience improved health during birth.  Allow everyone else to make your decisions, and you likely may feel out of control during birth.

5 Ways to Create a Healthy Birth

You've heard it so many times that your health, your birth location, and your care provider will be the biggest influences on your birth experience.  You've heard doulas improve birth experiences as well.  But simply knowing these three influences and then hiring a doula to make it all happen is a bit unrealistic.

Resolve to make decisions.

Right now.  Make this choice for yourself.  Choose to make your own birth decisions.  Choose a care provider and birth location that you know practices in a way that blends with your ideas for birth care.  If your care provider does not, know that it is up to you to make a change.  Your doula will not change the way your provider or location practices in the middle of birth.  Your birth plan and a signature doesn't change the default routines or they can kind of get a little murky in the process.

Think of it this way.  You don't tell a pastry chef how to bake his cakes.  If you're hiring a pastry chef, it is likely because you want a skill of his that you don't have.  You don't find a pastry chef and simply because he has this title expect that his cake tastes the same as anyone else's.  You don't have him sign a contract that says he will bake a cake the way you want it with ingredients he's not used to using and expect it to turn out exactly like you imagined.  You don't bring in a friend and have that friend encourage you through eating this cake that isn't turning out exactly like you imagined, either, and expecting them to tell the chef how to do their job at the same time.

Making your own decisions means you get to be comfortable with the outcomes.  Knowing the possibilities you have with your choices lets you to be informed and understanding of your birth experience.

Eat well.

Eat well for a healthy happy birth.  While you may not be able to afford everything organic or have the space to grow everything you eat, you can eat well.  You buy your food.  Your doula doesn't buy your food.  Your doula cannot change eating fast food every day during labor.  Your doula cannot force water in you and hide the soda.  Even if your spouse and other children don't want to eat the same way you do, you are still the one putting food in your mouth and eventually the family tends to follow along with what mom is eating, even if it takes a while (sometimes years).  If you are in a situation where someone is holding you down and force feeding you, or emotionally manipulating you to not eat healthy food choices, then I urge you to seek counseling or find a shelter that will help protect you from abuse.  Otherwise, search for recipes of snacks and meals that have little to no sugar and make bulk items ahead of time.  Eat a rainbow of colors of whole foods and little to no processed foods.  Eat only real ingredients.  Properly assimilated adequate nutrients means your hormones and your body systems function at their peak, and your birth risks are at a more even level.

Move regularly.

Make movement a routine part of your day.  Maybe going to a physical therapist or chiropractor or bodyworker isn't an option for you, but movement is always an option. You can stand at your desk.  You can stretch and move positions (off the sofa) while watching TV.  You can go barefoot.  You can squat to use the bathroom and for any movement that requires up and down.  You can belly dance.  You can sway.  You can do side-lying stretches.  You can walk.  You can move a little bit at a time regularly throughout the day and not have to block out time for "exercise" and in fact, this is the way you should be living.  Take opportunities for longer times of movement and walking, but not making that time doesn't mean you should live a mono-movement and low movement lifestyle.  Better movement now means the baby has a clearer path through the pelvis and you're less likely to feel crampy during birth.

Find time for self care.

In some way, soothe your mind without a screen for even 5 minutes a day.  Better if it can be 1 hour a day.  Pray.  Stretch.  Deep breathe.  Walk.  Use herbal teas or essential oils to soothe the thoughts of the day.  Take a bath and close your eyes to relaxing music.  Make a routine part of your day uninterrupted.  Find a person or a thing that can help you with kids - even if this is a blanket in your bathroom with a quiet toy they can play with or wear your earbuds with relaxing music to mellow out the sounds.  Every day work to explain to your children their need for respect during this time and set a routine with them that allows them to feel nurtured also when you're done so you both can enjoy some relaxation time.

Learn about birth.

Birth doesn't have to be scary.  Review your previous births and discover new choices for a different (or similar) experience.  Listen to positive birth stories, and learn about the choices that supported those births.  Discover the parts of birth that cause fear and BELIEVE that you have the ability to learn about those aspects of birth and how to prevent and deal with those complications.  Don't allow someone else in your birth space to project their fear upon you.  If they do not learn or cannot reduce their fear with the choices you've made, it may be necessary to request them to not be a part of your experience.  If you are unable to move past a fear, seek counseling - there is likely a deeper struggle causing this fear response.

The information is here.  For selecting a birth environment that supports you, to steps to take if you find yourself in less than ideal birth situation.

You don't plan your birth.  You don't "plan a home birth" or "plan a birth center birth" or "plan a hospital birth."  You prepare for birthIf you take a prenatal prep approach of learning about your body, birth choices, and even a basic knowledge of birthing and supporting a birth, then USE the information you've been given to support your body and your mind and then birth happens.  You simply birth your baby and make decisions during that process to support your body (physically and emotionally) and your baby.  Don't get stuck in the idea that you have to birth in a certain location once you've chosen where you want to begin labor and experience labor.  Prepare for the ways to prevent complications and feel holistically supported now and during postpartum.  If your birth location and care provider changes in the middle, you'll be more empowered and confident to speak up and utilize your birth rights.

 

 

just breathe Reflection Journal Prompt - Week 4

Reflect: What questions have you had answered and how are you using those answers to seek the birth you desire? Write some new questions or topics you feel you need to learn about. Research those this week and jot down some notes and feelings.

#TheOxytocinMethod is an approach to the role we play during our childbearing years of the responsible consumer. I can provide you with information, but only you can choose what you do (or don't do) with information. You birth how you live.  You birth how you feel.

 

 

Be empowered - take responsibility and experience the joy from making your own birth decisions and allowing those choices to build your confidence for parenting.  If you're looking for more in depth information on your options for birth and building your confidence for making decisions, schedule mentoring or join an Esali Birth class.

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