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Bump & Beyond | Preparing For YOUR Unique Birth Experience

Bump & Beyond | Preparing For YOUR Unique Birth Experience

Giving birth is a unique experience for each mom and baby. How do you prepare for birth when you don’t know what will happen? As a childbirth educator, I have the opportunity to help prepare families for what to expect when they are coming in to give birth. But even with my expertise, I cannot predict what will happen with your own labor and birth experience.

Having a plan for your birth is incredibly important. But I think an important piece of the plan is preparing your mind and heart for the birth you were not picturing. A nurse I follow on social media said this, "Prepare for the birth you want, and prepare for the birth you don’t want even more."

As a mom, I've learned a lot about managing expectations. As an example, I often share the story of my daughter's first Halloween with my patients. I was excited to celebrate our first Halloween together and I had put a lot of work into preparing a family costume. However, when the day rolled around my daughter wasn’t a fan of wearing the costume. We managed to get a few photos, but ultimately took it off after 30 minutes. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal. I was a little disappointed that night though, because that wasn’t what I pictured. That is a valid feeling. So how do we apply this when we talk about giving birth?

When planning for your labor and birth experience I challenge moms to have flexible plans. For example:

  • Include your doctor in your planning! Some things may be safe for one person and not advised for another based on their unique pregnancy. Your obstetrician can guide you on what will be best for you.
    • For example: “I have the goal of going into labor on my own, but I understand that in some cases inductions are medically necessary for me or the baby”
  • Avoid absolutes!
    • For example: “I absolutely will not get any pain medication” vs “I would like to try without pain medication but I may change my mind based on how I feel”

However, even with flexible plans, birth can present something you weren’t prepared for. It's important to remember that your healthcare team wants what is best for your health and your baby’s health. Sometimes things happen that are out of everyone’s control and feelings of anger, anxiety, or disappointment can happen as a result. In these times it can be helpful to identify what you are feeling and talk yourself through it. That inner conversation might look like this:

“Ok Sarah, you wanted to have a vaginal delivery. But your baby is in the breech position, and the safest thing for you and the baby is to have a cesarean delivery. That is disappointing, and it is ok to be disappointed. Let’s take a minute to process that. This is something that is out of my control. Let’s shift our focus to something I can control. I can control _____________________.”

Finally, I recommend attending childbirth classes with your partner. The education received in these classes will help you better understand the different possibilities of labor and delivery. Knowledge is a powerful tool! Empower yourself by learning what is involved in the process of labor and delivery.

Bump & Beyond is a blog series from Infirmary Health to provide guidance and education to pre and post-partum moms. Learn more about the author of this blog, childbirth educator, Sarah Mallonee.

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