1. Carefully choose your care provider and place of birth
Your choice of doctor or midwife has a significant impact on your birth experience and outcome. If you choose a doctor, for example, who has a high rate of induction, you are more likely to have an induction. Likewise, the standard practices and regulations in place at your chosen hospital or birth center may not be compatible with what you want in birth.
Take the time to interview your care provider before making your first prenatal appointment. If you’re already seeing a care provider, ask pointed questions during your next appointment to see if she is the best choice for you. It’s almost never too late to change your care provider!
2. Take a good childbirth class
Even if you “know” you’re going to get an epidural, even if you have read all of the childbirth books, even if you watch childbirth videos, even if you’re planning on hiring a doula – nothing replaces a good childbirth class. A childbirth class taught by an experienced educator (preferably certified by a reputable childbirth education organization) will cover pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum, and newborn topics with in-depth, evidence-based information. A class also gives you direct access to the instructor to answer your questions. Be selective when choosing a childbirth class – the nearest hospital class is not usually the most comprehensive option.
3. Hire a doula
Couples with a doula by their side report feeling more confident and comfortable during birth. A doula is also a resourceful sounding board during your pregnancy – she has special training and access to solid information to help answer your questions and provide you with information for making decisions. Just like care providers, not all doulas are created equal – be sure to take the time to interview more than one doula to find out if you are a good match.
Keep Reading: Your step-by-step guide to the stages of labor