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Discussions so far have been focused on emotional and physical influences that may affect your pregnancy and your labor experience. As mentioned earlier, your emotional state influences these experiences greatly.
The more you understand how, the better you’ll be able to respond to physical sensations (contractions), as well as the emotional challenges of giving birth.
If you are surrounded by supportive people, and in a supportive environment, you will respond even better to your birth experience!
This is worth repeating: If you can resolve any conflicts, worries, etc., prior to going into labor , please do, so you can focus more on preparing for birth. For example, What if you’re worried about your husband being home when you go into labor.
Maybe you have no friends or family near by where you live. This is additional stress for you indeed. Can you imagine what you’ll be thinking about – yikes! You need to have a back-up plan in place, one that you’re comfortable with.
Possible solutions? Asking a neighbor to take you to the hospital, or even call 911 as a last resort! It has been done before and if the rescue squad gotyou to the hospital safely and in time, in this particular situation, why not? Having said that and if this is a concern for you call your local Rescue Squad and see how they operate. Questions to ask would be: will you take me to the hospital where I want to go? What’s the fee?
The point is, getting as much settled as you can BEFORE going to your birth facility will decrease your anxiety and rid unnecessary worry – have a plan!
When you have a good support system, you relax more because you can call on those who are willing to help yoou when you need it, those who will give you hugs, encouragement, and love when you need it most during the birth of your child. There is nothing like support from your partner, and from others providing it’s positive, productive, and beneficial to you.
Self-Care and Self-Support
Self-care and self-support means treating yourself well and doing those things that improve your state of mind, health, and well0being in positive ways. Doing activities that make you feel good. Surrounding yourself with positive people. Listening and reading about positive birth stories! While you’re pregnant, even though you can’t see him/her yet or hold your baby in your arms, you are taking care of baby through your diet, exercise plan, management of personal stress, and positive emotional state.
Here are some suggestions. Some may be familiar to you already. But, that’s all right. Reinforcing these points is a good thing!
- Start thinking about how you like to relax! Is it playing classical music, curled up in a chair reading a book? Taking a hot shower? What? Find out what it is and make time for it daily. I highly recommend a pre-natal yoga class because you’ll learn meditation skills.
- Daydream daily about a place, real or imagined, that makes you FEEL good! A special place you like to go to. Think it, go there, and stay for a while. This exercise will come in handy later!
- Keep a Journal. Express your feelings! Positive and negative! Negative thoughts eat up a lot of energy!
- Communicate your desires for birth to your partner and others! Unless they own a crystal ball, your partner or anyone else, won’t know what you want.
- Be realistic. Avoid high expectations. Go with the “flow”. For example, expectations of having a perfect birthing experience. Thinking “perfect” right there will get you! Nothing in life is perfect! Relax, go with and live each moment as it unfolds, you’ll enjoy it more, than trying to control it.
- Start researching childbirth classes EARLY in your pregnancy. Never wait to the last minute to enroll in a class. You’re gonna be a mom! Invest in learning all you can and learn how YOU can manage your labor on your own before going to the hospital. Labor is manageable. 🙂
- Celebrate your pregnancy, it’s an amazing experience.
- Celebrate yourself because YOU are an amazing woman!
Your husband or partner will be your rock! But, there may be times when they’re not. Perhaps he’s uncomfortable seeing you uncomfortable during labor, or unsure of his ability to help you, or he hates hospitals – who knows. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand his feelings and allow him to respond the best way he can and in the best way he knows how and is comfortable with. For example, maybe he doesn’t want to be in the room when the doctor or nurse is giving you a vaginal exam to see how dilated your cervix is. So, he’ll step outside your labor room for a few minutes and then return.
This doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about what’s going on. It just means he has his own coping mechanisms activated and needs to respond to them to help himself.
This is good, because when he takes care of himself, he can take care of you! More and more pressure is being put on the partner to be the “coach”. This is great! But, maybe he’s uncomfortable with the responsibility.
That’s where communication comes in, big time! If you don’t talk, you may have expectations ( there’s that word again) of your partner being with you 200%, and that may not be realistic.
Your partner is viewing your pregnancy from a different perspective. He is also responding to personal concerns of his own. Let him do the best he can for you. Here are some suggestions, so guys, if you are reading this:
- Be a guardian! You will anyway. You have expectant mom’s best interests at heart. Watch over her, guard her privacy at the hospital. For example, some hospitals are “teaching hospitals” and they have student nurses and Interns. If you don’t want to be a learning “subject” then say so and inform your nurse and your doctor.
- Accept who you are. You are about to go through an incredible experience, seeing your partner birth your child! WOW. If you don’t like the sight of blood and body fluids that’s okay. Just share that with mom-to-be so she understands why you disappeared, or fainted!
- Encourage her, love her, like you have and do, and then increase that 500% more! Your words of love and encouragement, will help her in her weakest moments. You will help give her the strength she needs if she feels like giving up during labor. What a feeling that will be, to know that it was YOU that kept her going!
- Get over it. Women make noise during labor and pushing baby out. Lots of moaning and grunting. It’s all good. Avoid projecting your uneasiness on her.
Sometimes guys get uncomfortable when they hear mom-to-be moaning during labor because they are in “pain”. Yes, she may be physically uncomfortable, but is she managing it? Let her tell you what SHE needs. This is her experience. Sometimes women do what their man wants instead of doing what she wants or needs to do in labor. Your influence and presence is powerful. So, if she REALLY doesn’t want the epidural go with it. If she does, go with it. It’s her body, her experience. We’ll talk more about this in the Tool Box. 🙂
In the hospital, nurses do their very best to help you during your labor. They help to make you comfortable, be at your side when it’s time to “push” and after the delivery. A nurse will be with you throughout your labor and your baby’s birth. You will not be alone. The nurse is also a technician because she is monitoring your labor progress as well as the events, epidurals, fetal well-being, and so on when with you.
Women need to be continuously nurtured during labor. The hospital environment is not always a nurturing environment. So, what can you do?
- If you want to use a doctor for your prenatal and labor management, shop around for an OB/GYN provider who supports medicated AND unmedicated births, use of a Doula, and/or Midwife. You are a consumer. Hospitals and doctors are in a business. Did you like the way you were treated? Is he or she easy to talk to? Do they answer your questions with interest in you? Do they have midwives on their staff? Do they support the use of Doulas? Do they routinely induce labor? What is their cesarean rate? Will they work with nature, or will they be in a rush to play tennis? Many times we just choose a doctor on someone else’s recommendation because it’s easier. That’s what I call having a birth experience by “default”. It’s really okay to interview a few doctors to find the one that meets your needs.
- Use a Midwife if you can. They will take the time to nurture you, work with nature, and not rush you. If you are healthy and considered a “low risk” pregnancy, meaning there is no history of illness and baby is fine also, a midwife is an excellent choice for a provider. They work “under” or are affiliated with a physician so in case there is an emergency, they would step in and take over.
- Think about a birthing center as an alternative to a hospital to give birth. The atmosphere will be very different. Yes, It is a completely safe alternative.
- Consider a Doula. The research is out! It has been proven that the amount of emotional and physical support a laboring woman receives is related to the birth outcome. Doulas reduce the chance of Cesarean birth and the use of medications. Why? Because they provide continuous emotional and physical support, respect and compassion to the laboring women. They also relieve and support the partner and often become a team to help mom-to-be. Doulas stay with you 100% of the time.
Evidence Based Practices demonstrate having another support person present to provide continuous emotional and physical support enhances the birthing process and satisfaction of the mother.
- Enlist help from family members and friends. If there are concerns about care of your pets while in the hospital, ask them! Ask them to be a back-up plan for you and give you a ride to the hospital when it’s time to go.
Remember, a good support system is an important element to consider when planning your birth experience.
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There are 3 questions.