5 top tips on how to have a better birth

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By Renee Adair – The Australian Doula College

It can be so easy to get bogged down with all the well-meaning do’s and don’ts that are thrown your way when you find yourself pregnant for the first time. There is a sea of information that women and their partners can find themselves drowning in.

I like to simplify some of the pre-birth work for parents by offering my five top tips on how to have a better labour and birth.

Firstly, I would like to clarify what I mean by” better birth”?

In Australia today, we have a very high postnatal depression rate and research tells us that some of those women are suffering PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Research also tells us that a lot of the trauma is directly linked back to the labour and birth experience.

For me, having a better birth means walking away from your labour and birth feeling that you were included in the process and that you feel at peace about the outcome. That comes from having exhausted all your options and feeling included in the decision making, even if you end up with an unexpected Caesarean.

Having a baby is by far one of the biggest transitions in our lives but I strangely see that some soon to be parents, do more research on the latest pram on the market than they do their birthing options and preparation for parenting. Now, I know there are never any guarantees on how a labour and birth might go, however, you can put some things in place to ensure your journey into parenthood is not as overwhelming as it may look.

1. Get educated

Birth information and education used to be given and handed down from our mothers and the elders of the village, if you like. Today in our society we rely on classes to educate women and their partners through the birth and early parenting process. Most hospitals offer classes and groups but they can be over crowed, basic and biased. If there is an independent organisation or childbirth educator, seek them out.

2. Prepare your body and mind.

Labour and birth can be a marathon and it is good to do regular gentle exercise, eat well, and drink plenty of water during pregnancy. Make time to visualise a positive birth experience, make a regular time to relax every day and focus on nothing else but your breathing. You can recall this skill and use it in your labour.

3. Hire a Doula.

A doula is a professional support person who cares for the birthing woman and her partner before, during and after the birth of their baby. Doulas do not do anything medical, offering information, guidance and emotional support.
Research proves that having a doula increases birth satisfaction and lowers intervention rates.

4. Make a birth plan or wish list.

It is a great idea to clarify your birth vision for yourself, your partner, support people and care providers. Gather as much information as you can in order to make informed decisions. Keep your birth plan to one page; be concise and clear in what it is you want. This is your birth experience, take charge!

5. Engage the services of a supportive caregiver.

I am always perplexed by the number of women who do not research their obstetrician, midwife, and or hospital. This is really important to do at the beginning of your pregnancy. You may accidentally engage the services of a care provider who does not match your birth philosophy.

Remember this is your baby’s’ birthday, a major event you will hold close to your heart for the rest of your life. No matter which road you travel to bring your baby into your arms, you need to be in driver’s seat. Birth is a physical, emotional and spiritual journey. Take time to honour that journey. Happy Birthing!

By Renee Adair – The Australian Doula College

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