“I never knew that love had a sound… until I heard your heartbeat.” – Unknown
1. Start Researching The Kind Of Birth You Want And Your Options.
Start with basic questions: Do you want an epidural? An episiotomy? No meds? All the meds? Do you want a natural birth? A cesarean? Something in-between? Have no freaking idea what you want at this point?! That’s ok!
Now is the time to start doing your research on what you might want or don’t want. Consider joining the Birth Without Fear Community Online to get a wide perspective of ways to give birth. Know your birth is YOUR birth and your preferences might be different than someone else’s, and that is ok!
Keep your mind open and know your mind may change the more you learn as your pregnancy progresses. This is YOUR birth, YOUR ultimate responsibility to you and your unborn child, own it Mama! You will do great!
Your research will guide you to learn more of what you might want if you aren’t sure. Write down pros and cons. You do not have to have all the answers in the beginning. Know your birth preferences can always change at any point! Knowing what kind of birth you want will help you when choosing a care provider. Which might arguably be one of the most important decisions you will make for you and your baby.
2. Find A Good Care Provider And Location That Is A Good Fit For You And The Type Of Birth You Want.
This step is SO important! Do you want a lot of say in what happens to you and your baby? Do you want a safe, low intervention birth that respects the normal physiology of birth and receive interventions only when medically necessary? Midwifery care at home or a freestanding birth center might be the way to go for you! This is at the heart of midwifery care, respectful and safe care. Can you have a midwife in a hospital? Absolutely! If you want or need a cesarean, a medicated birth, or have a complicated medical case or high-risk situation an OB surgeon at the hospital is probably the way to go!
Learn more about the differences between a Midwife, OB, and Doula here.
No matter the type of care provider you choose, make sure to interview a few before deciding. Not all Midwives or OBs are made the same. People have different philosophies, different wants and needs. What’s important is that you feel safe, comfortable, and you and your birth preferences are respected. Getting in touch with a local doula or childbirth educator can get you some great referrals!
Location? Home, Birth Center, Hospital? Care provider and location go hand in hand. Where do you feel safest? Do you think birth is a normal life event or a medical emergency most of the time? Only you can decide what’s best for you and your baby. Regardless if you have a straightforward healthy pregnancy or have health complications, you still deserve respectful care. Having quality care that respects normal physiology is important (whether or not you need medical assistance) so you can have the safest and healthiest birth outcome possible.
Finding a provider that respects you, your baby, and the process of birth (be it OB, Midwife, etc.) is something to keep in mind as you choose the provider and location that is the best fit for you and your personal situation.
Download this FREE New Care Provider Questionnaire here. Feel free to add or edit questions to fit your needs! Print out and take to the initial consult for each provider you speak to.
3. Education As Preparation! Read, Learn, Watch.
Learning about what to expect during pregnancy and childbirth can help take the FEAR out of birth! Reading helpful books, articles, and watching positive videos of actual birth can be super beneficial during your birth preparation.
Plan to sign up for a comprehensive childbirth class like this one around 25 weeks!
4. Hire A Doula!
Doula what?! A birth doula is a trained labor and birth support person. They help you and your partner know how to help you without having your partner need to be an expert on all things birth! They provide physical, emotional, and informational support during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Hiring a postpartum doula is also a great investment in yourself and your family as you heal and adjust to your new life in the fourth trimester. Having a good birth doula that you feel comfortable with, will be an invaluable investment in you, your baby, and your birth.
5. Staying Low-Risk.
Nourish your body, mind, and your baby. Listen to your body. Nutrition is so very important, especially during pregnancy! Make sure to eat whole foods, get at least 80g of protein daily, stay away from sugary drinks, and try to limit overly processed foods as much as possible.
Move, Move, Move! Try getting a little exercise in every day, even if it’s just a 20 minute walk. It can make a world of difference. Invest in chiropractic care to keep pregnancy discomforts at bay and to encourage baby to stay in a good position for birth.
Practice relaxation and mindfulness to keep your head in a good place and stress levels as low as possible. Stay hydrated with good ol’ water.
If you’re interested in learning about optimal nutrition during pregnancy to keep yourself as low-risk as possible and set yourself up for the best birth outcome possible, consider signing up for Birth Boot Camp’s Food & Fitness program. Learn more here.
6. The fun stuff! BABY REGISTRY.
Oh man buying cute maternity clothes and setting up the registry can be a lot of fun! Baby clothes are irresistibly cute!
Some items that I’ve found most helpful to buy now or add to the baby registry list are: a baby carrier, stroller, baby socks, diapers, wipes, postpartum doula gift certificate (contact a local doula for one), nose frida, baby bath, breast pump, handless pump bra, and arms reach co-sleeper.
Stay tuned for my amazon baby wish list!
7. Surround Yourself With Support And Positivity!
Your mind is a powerful thing. Being surrounded by negative, toxic, or unsupportive people is not so great for you and your baby. Keeping your head in a good place is super important.
Surround yourself with those who are supportive, those who are helpful and respectful to you. Listen to positive birth stories, join support groups online or in-person. Take a break as much as possible from anyone in your life who is bringing the negativity and raising your stress levels. Prioritizing your mental health is always important, but especially right now, you matter mama.
Fear can quite literally affect your birth experience physically and mentally. Try to address those fears before birth! Talk to your care providers about your fears, be honest about them. Naming your fears can help so you can then create solutions on how to address them! Taking a good comprehensive childbirth class and hiring a birth doula are an invaluable investments in you and your baby’s wellbeing during birth, pregnancy, and beyond.
8. Breastfeeding, Formula, Combination?
Every family situation is so different! Do your research to figure out what’s the best fit for you! Learn the benefits of breastfeeding, common challenges, and how to address them. The book, Breastfeeding Made Simple is great.
Learn about formula, the pros the cons. Learn about donor breastmilk. Figure out what will be the best fit for you and your unique family situation.
Breastfeeding offers incredible health benefits for both mom and baby, but know that feeding your baby is what matters most. You’ll get it right mama, just do your research and do what’s best for you and your baby, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.
Birth Boot Camp has a great breastfeeding video class taught by an IBCLC (the gold standard of breastfeeding support), check that out here. Start getting together a list of postpartum resources to call in case you run into bumps in the road after baby gets here. Hiring a doula can help you with great local referrals!
9. Things To Avoid.
Clean up what you put in, on, and around your body! Know that no medication has been proven to be completely safe in pregnancy, because we don’t test medications on pregnant women… but some are considered “GRAS” Generally Recognized As Safe. Use your best judgment when it comes to this.
If you have a medication questions consult your care provider, pharmacist, and also checkout: MotherToBaby.org. Look at your makeup, some have some ingredients like retinol that should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Cook your food fully to try to avoid food-borne illnesses. Avoid the obvious things like smoking and drinking alcohol.
Do your research, figure out risk and benefits for your specific situation. If your gut is saying, maybe this isn’t good for baby, listen to that. Growing a baby is a mysterious and unique process with tons of changes happening on a cellular level at every given moment!
Ask hard questions about any medication, test, or procedure, ask about risks, benefits, alternatives, and overall just trust your gut mama! Remember it’s your baby and your body, you’re in charge.
10. Things To Embrace.
Embrace self love and self care. Accept help when offered and ask for help if needed. You matter. You are growing a tiny human in your body, that’s hard work mama!
Life can be busy so schedule self care in if needed, make it a priority. Relaxation, chiropractic care, massages, move every single day even if it’s just a light walk, keep good posture, practicing mindfulness through meditation can help you immensely during labor and birth.
Get in tune with yourself and your baby, talk to your growing baby, learn to trust your intuition. Most of all just embrace this a huge transformative season in your life both mentally and physically.
Take care of yourself and be in awe of the amazing thing you are doing. You are growing a human being and bringing another life into this world, wow, just wow. If that’s not a super power I don’t know what is!
Much love mama, know that you’ve totally got this!