By Nilma Black
Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Welcome to the most transformative, rewarding process of your life. Now that the dust has begun to settle from your big news, it is a good time to direct your attention to making preparations and setting yourself up to have the most blissful birth experience possible. Here are some things you should be thinking about ahead of time.
1. Find a doula to have your back.
Doulas are an invaluable resource for families during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. They provide physical, emotional and educational care; they free up your time and energy so you can positively engage with your medical team, your partner, and your pregnancy. A doula is your birth consiglieri, they are the person that is irrevocably in your corner. Think of this relationship as the bedrock on which you can build a successful birth plan. A successful birth plan is one that makes you feel in control and at ease.
2. Decide where you want to have your birth.
Whether you have your baby at home, in a hospital, or in the back of taxi, where you have your birth determines a ton of other factors. Making this decision early on will give you the peace of mind and confidence to create the rest of your birth plan. There are families that prefer to have joyful births at home and those that feel more comfortable having their baby in a hospital and those who would rather give birth at a birthing center where there is an environment that appeals to both sets of needs. The important thing is that you have all the relevant information. Discussing this with your Doula will help you arrive at the decision that is best for you.
3. Research your OB and/or Midwife
Once you’ve decided where you would like to have your birth, you can research the medical team that will be involved. Again, your doula will help you make sense of all the information and keep you from being overwhelmed by this process. Never feel as if you have to stay with a decision that doesn’t feel right. Keep asking questions. That is your right. If you picked a hospital for your birth; find out what their C section rate is compared to vaginal births, if family members can stay with you for the first postpartum night. Find out what their policy is on outside food. Research your hospital and make sure their values and practices align with your expectations.
Seeking out childbirth education can have a major impact on the comfort and ease you experience during your birth. A good childbirth educator will help you learn hospital protocols, understand your body, the process of birth and know what choices are available to you. Knowledge is power and, in this case, power means safety, comfort, and peace during your birth.
5. Plan for Postpartum.
After you've given birth, you can expect your life to change. By thinking through some of the challenges and curating the right support network ahead of time, you'll be able to focus all of your attention on taking care of yourself and connecting with your baby during the transition. The goal for this period is to minimize your responsibilities to the outside world. Plan to put some of your regular commitments on hold for at least a month. A personal chef, a partner, a family member or a meal delivery service can take the pressure off meal planning and preparation. Getting the proper nutrition is vital for your well-being and that of your baby. Book an appointment with a postpartum doula to help communicate your needs to your doctor and help turn your home into a postpartum sanctuary; Make sure this sanctuary will be a restful, comforting environment and decide ahead of time on what your policy will be with visitors.