This post contains affiliate links. That means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.
“Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.” -Ina May Gaskin
I spent 7 long months of my pregnancy absolutely terrified of giving birth.
After powering through the morning, hosting training sessions and closing sales, I would take lunch to my car and cry ugly tears into a sandwich. At home, I considered whether a planned C-section would be the easiest option. Really! Major surgery on purpose to avoid a natural process! How could I be so fearless at work and such an anxious mess about my own body?
It wasn’t until a friend gave me Ina May’s “Guide to Childbirth” that I realized I was giving all my power away to a broken system… and knew in my heart that it was time to reclaim it. Three days of frantic research later—plus an amazing heart-to-heart with my doula friend—and I fired my fear-mongering OB/GYN, assembled our new birth team, and breathed the first sigh of relief in months… just weeks before my daughter was born!
(Then I found Hypnobabies and suddenly fell in love with pregnancy.
Hypnobabies is a very comprehensive, unique, and successful childbirth hypnosis program using medical-grade hypnosis for creating an easier, more comfortable birth experience. It was a complete game-changer for us! To order or learn more, click here for 20% off)
I ended up switching providers at 36 weeks and giving birth at 39… and had exactly the experience I wanted: a quiet, drug-free water birth, with only my birth team present. I was left alone to do my hypno-thing while having the best support near by, and it was the most beautiful day of my life.
No matter how far along you are, you can change your narrative, too. We’ve been told our whole lives that bringing a child into this world is always excruciating, complicated, and a medical emergency out of our control. Why are we expected to just roll over and accept this as absolute truth?
Nope, it’s 2019 and we don’t play that.
Here are my top 7 tips for taking charge and owning your birth like a boss:
1. know what you want…
You’ve heard this one come up in many a goal setting session: “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there.” So, what do YOU want? How do you want to remember your child’s birth day?
Let’s try this. I want you to forget, for a moment, everything you know about labor & delivery. Forget every TV scene, every detailed account from your coworkers. Stop, rewind, blank page.
Now, if you knew you could not fail, how would you choose to welcome your little human into the world?
Really put yourself there. Use all your senses. Where are you? Who is there? Who is not? How do you feel? How does your baby feel? Write this down somewhere. Feel free to look up positive birth stories for inspiration.
2 …and how to get it
Once you’ve figured out what kind of birth experience you want to have, you can choose the facility or setting that will give you the best shot at having it. Of course, your risk-factor will play a part.
The location is going to make more of a difference than almost anything else (unless you hire an experienced doula.) This is because the OB you’ve gotten comfortable with may not even be on call when you go into labor, or shifts may change, and hospitals tend to have their own policies on things. So do your research. What’s their c-section rate? What is their episiotomy policy?
If you’re choosing a hospital birth, here are some great questions to consider. There are also some fantastic lists online for birth centers and home births.
Also consider what birth prep class’ philosophy is going to fit with what you want. I chose Hypnobabies because I was determined to have a comfortable childbirth, so I didn’t want my head filled with the pain-centric language of traditional classes.
Look up some other childbirth methodologies and see what feels right for you. Lamaze? Bradley? Alexander? Mongan? Something else?
3. wise up to the game
Remember that time you found out your male colleague was getting paid more than you for doing the same job? What did you do? Research your position and binge-read articles about the wage gap, before demanding a meeting to negotiate a raise? Of course you did. You woke up.
…and that’s all I’m gonna say about that. Again, do a little digging. Ask some questions. Advocate for yourself.
Going into it armed with knowledge about your own preferences is going to give you so much confidence and peace of mind. Educate yourself. Take on this project as if your money and life depended on it. It does.
4. challenge the status quo
Did you know most women can eat during labor? Did you know your baby will come out even if you don’t actively push? Have you heard of the Cascade of Interventions? Did you know a drug-free birth doesn’t have to hurt? Did you know your “due date” is really just the middle of a “guess month”? Do you know you don’t have to accept an induction? What are your hospital’s fees? Did you know you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) be on your back?
I didn’t! This short video brilliantly explains how we got here:
Remember that your typical doctor is not going to go out of their way to keep you privy to these things. That’s why it’s important to have your own support people.
5. build the right team
A good boss knows that if she builds a solid team, she doesn’t have to micromanage. What does this do? It gives her the freedom to do her actual job, instead of everyone else’s.
Your actual job, as a pregnant woman, is to make a baby.
You can literally lay around all day and still put in some serious hours. The best thing you can do for the both of you is to relax. Your big job in labor is to —you guessed it—RELAX.
That’s where your team comes in. You’re going to need to choose:
-someone to give you sound prenatal support (midwife, OB/GYN, childbirth class…)
-someone to catch the baby and provide clinical support (the medical team you like… remember the possibility that the one doc or midwife you bond with won’t be the one available)
-someone available for continuous support (doula, spouse, partner, friend…)
-someone to send to Taco Bell at 3am (optional)
-someone available for postpartum support (doula, doctor, lactation consultant, mom friend…)
That’s it! Anyone else is extra —and probably a distraction.
You’re going to need to trust each person on your team with their piece of the puzzle so you don’t have to think. So, ask around, conduct some interviews, and don’t be afraid to fire anyone who isn’t meeting expectations.
6. delegate, delegate, delegate
While you are pregnant, your job is to take care of yourself and your baby. In labor, your job will be to take care of yourself and your baby. Once your little bundle arrives, your job will be —you guessed it again!— to take care of yourself and your baby.
Have you ever worked with a manager who seemed to forget that their job is to manage and not do their subordinate’s jobs? Chaos, wasn’t it?
Here’s the good news. You have time and probably a lot of interested offers, people suddenly eager to help out with anything home-related. It’s the one time in your life that you can make a list of all the household sh*t you want done and happily divvy out tasks to people who don’t live with you.
“I’d love to see the baby! Can I do anything or bring anything by?“
Why, yes, as a matter of fact. Can you pick up some Boston Market on the way over? Oh, and I haven’t vacuumed in days! Thanks for asking!
(On this topic, DO NOT feel pressured to allow anyone over until YOU feel ready, and definitely DO NOT feel pressured to allow anyone to touch the baby until YOU feel ready. Just because they came over doesn’t mean they have to hold your brand new human. The support is supposed to be about what YOU need.)
7. LET GO
You got this, mama bear.
This is a brand-new blog, so if you liked this article, I’d appreciate it so much if you share it with a pregnant friend!
What was the most surprising thing you learned since becoming pregnant? I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.