How much research and time did you put into choosing your last car? If you’re anything like me, you painstakingly researched safety ratings, cargo space, upgrade options and probably test drove multiple options. This is consumerism at its best. We have the information at our finger-tips and the ability to make choices for ourselves based on our needs and wants. Birth is the SAME WAY. Everything from your provider all the way down to what you wear while you birth is your choice.
“I don’t care what kind of birth you have…a homebirth, scheduled cesarean, an epidural hospital birth or if you give birth alone in the woods next to a baby deer. I care that you had options, that you were supported in your choices and that you were respected.” – January Harshe
Typically the first choice made is regarding primary care provider and birth facility. Obviously prenatal care is important and because of the “urgency” many moms settle with the provider they’ve seen for wellness visits or they feel intimidated to switch later in pregnancy. Unfortunately, many women also don’t know that different providers can have varied birth philosophies or specialties (i.e. a midwife is an expert in natural birth or some OBs have higher c-section rates than others.) Basically, if you’re wanting a Honda, don’t go to a Kia dealership. Make sure your wants and needs match what they offer. Begin your search by deciding what type of birth you are preparing for: homebirth, birth center or hospital? After making this choice, begin researching those facilities and the providers who service them. Sometimes traveling an extra 15 minutes is well worth it to find a facility with a significantly lower cesarean rate and more up to date policies. Additionally, hospitals with very outdated routines and procedures might find go against your birth wishes (eating during labor, movement allowed, doulas welcomed.) Finding the facility that matches up with your philosophy is such an important thing. PLEASE don’t choose your provider or facility based on how stylish their office is, the size of the labor rooms or the steak and lobster dinner promised after birth. Evidence based care is so much more important! You can look up providers and hospital statistics on amino.com, leapfrog.com, and cesareanrates.com.
After you find your provider, it’s time to turn your attention to preparing for your birth. This is the “education and research” aspect of this experience. Birth is a transformational event that you can either choose to “go all in” and become fully invested and empowered or “wing it” potentially leaving you feeling lost and out of control. Think about how much time you put into choosing the car I mentioned above. How long would you realistically drive that car? Most people are trading them in before their 6 year loan is even paid off! And yet, we spend the time researching and learning about the car as though we’re making a decision that’s affecting the rest of our lives. Birth really does affect the rest of your life! Ask any woman who has given birth and she will be able to recount her entire labor and birth detail for detail, whether she’s 25 or 90. It transforms your mind, your life, your thoughts, your priorities, your body, your family, your world. Spending the time to prepare yourself through childbirth education classes or methods, such as HypnoBirthing, is never a waste. Learning about the choices and procedures you can expect means that you’re insuring those decisions are in YOUR control, not someone else’s.
Finally, choosing your support system is a key part of creating the birth experience you want. Labor is an intense journey. Statistics show that labor support significantly reduces cesarean and induction rates, Pitocin use and increases the likelihood of feeling satisfied with your birth experience. These are some MAJOR players in the labor room. When women feel supported, safe and secure they’re much more likely to find their “labor land” and progress quicker. Hormones and endorphins are easily released. In addition, couples find that they can experience birth together with the help of a doula. Partners are calmer and quickly find their role as hip squeezer, back massager or hand holder instead of sitting on the sidelines because they’re unsure what to do. Partners have never had to support you through an experience like this before and it can be unfair to put such a huge job on a person who probably hasn’t seen a birth since sex-ed in high-school (Knocked Up doesn’t count!) Build a team of people you connect with, who hold the same birth philosophy and you trust to be your strength, your faith and sometimes your voice. To read more about the evidence for doulas, go here.
Sure, buying a car and giving birth are two things you’ve probably never discussed in the same conversation over dinner, but keep in mind birth is just as much of a consumer experience as the car lot is. You have choices- lots of them. Upgrade to a provider you trust, birth at an evidence based facility and make informed choices you believe in to protect this transformational experience you’ll remember longer than your current car (you’ll be getting a minivan soon anyway!)
P.S…..I chose my car based on cargo space, how #adult is that!