Take Control of Your Birth Experience

Plus, the benefit of taking childbirth classes.

birth experience James Michelfelder

Women who see themselves as active participants in childbirth and seek a collaborative role with their health care providers are likely to prefer a home birth and a midwife's care, according to a survey of women 18 to 40 who haven't yet had a baby. Those who are more fearful of delivering and perceive a mother's role in birthing as more passive tend to prefer a doctor and hospital birth.

Although most women go along with the typical hospital birth, they do have choices in childbirth and can feel empowered in their role, says the study's author, Adriana Arcia, Ph.D., R.N., a post-doctoral research fellow at Columbia University School of Nursing in New York City. Taking childbirth education classes is a great way to become involved, she says. And don't hesitate to question your doctor.

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"If there's one message I wish all women could hear, it's that you should know your options," Arcia says. "That doesn't mean you have to become a clinical expert, but it means asking questions. Regardless of how the delivery plays out, it means you made choices and felt you were involved, that it didn't just happen to you. Women tend to be more satisfied with their birth experience if they feel they had some control."

Ready to take control? Check out Why Home Births Can Be Safe and 6 Tips for Effective Hospital Negotiations.