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 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.
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 birth. If 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.