Take a breath and consider this: 25 to 34 percent of women report having traumatic birth experiences. For many more, giving birth is simply not the miraculous, magical event they were hoping for.
Interventions, complications and unnerving nurses may happen, but you and your sweet babe don’t have to settle for anything less than the totally empowered birth you deserve. While, of course, there will be many forces at work the day you deliver, pay heed to these five secrets for a wonder-filled birth experience full of power and bliss.
Knowledge is power.
For a truly empowered birth, you’ve got to be prepared, know your options (be careful not to reach information overload) and find a care provider who aligns with your birthing values.
Do some research, take a birth class or hire a doula, consult your healthcare provider (or interview a few) and talk to other moms. You might be surprised at how much you don’t know and how many choices you have available.
Ask yourself: What does your ideal birth experience look like? Are those options currently available to you? If not, there’s no shame in changing your birth plan or switching care providers (just like I did, at 35 weeks).
Assemble your birthing support squad.
It takes a village to raise a baby and that starts from day one! Well in advance of your due date, form a support team comprised of your doctor or midwife, doula, your best friend(s), family you trust and, as applicable, your partner.
Determine the role each of those people will play in your birth scenario and communicate your needs to them. Is your partner the one in charge of moral support, or is that a family member? How much direction do you want your midwife to offer during labor and what does that look like? Should your doctor offer an epidural if you say you’re tired? Who will feed the dog while you’re gone?
Birth, however you choose it to be, is a tremendous feat! A baby shower is the standard way to celebrate, but that’s more about baby than it is about you. Plan a mother’s blessing, cherish yourself with an indulgent self-care weekend or a babymoon, make a belly cast to commemorate your bad-ass human-growing body or ask your best friends to write you letters of encouragement that you can compile and read during the early stages of labor. Mamas should be exalted and you, my dear, are no exception.
Use positive affirmations.
Birthing is as mentally strenuous as it is physical taxing. Cultivating mental stamina, adopting a “mind-over-matter” attitude and being present in the moment can make a huge difference in your birth experience.
How do you do that, exactly? Try positive affirmations.
Come up with a short list of positive, grounding phrases that resonate with you and write them down. Share the list with your birthing support squad member who's responsible for moral support and ask them to repeat the affirmations to you throughout your labor.
They can be as simple as “You got this!” or as practical as “Every contraction brings you closer to meeting our child” or as far-out as “You are a mother-warrior goddess and you’re doing an incredible job.”
Make it sacred.
What do you incorporate into your daily life to make it feel extra special? The day you become a mom is about as sacred as it gets, so why not bring along your lavender essential oil or favorite popsicles, labor in the bath tub or wear a cute delivery gown or your lucky T-shirt? Those seemingly small things can make a big difference, especially if you’re having a hospital birth where the environment may feel more clinical, less homey.