Powerful strategy # 1) Own your vision- whatever it is!
Getting clear, early on, with what factors are most important for you, helps a lot. Ideally, by 20 weeks, it is good to know what you are hoping for in your birth experience so that you can check in with your doctor or midwife to make sure they are on the same page and can support you with your vision. If you realize there is a mis-match, it is better to know sooner than later so that you still can look into other practices to find the medical support that best serves YOU. Often practices in NYC don’t take new patients after 20 weeks, so it’s helpful to know what you are looking for to ensure it is in the realm of possibility to achieve. One of the biggest positive impacts on your birth is the trust you have in your care provider. Earnest communication and asking questions to clarify your expectations early on will help you get there. Consider what aspects are most important to you in your labor? Is it having your partner by your side? And, being able to bring in labor support? Your immediate post-labor vision for bonding with your baby? Once you are clear, you can strategize on how you can best set yourself up to achieve your vision!
Powerful strategy # 2) Get your village lined up!!!
Assemble your support team. This will bring your nervous system reassurance and will greatly help you when you are in labor. The most important factor in a birth experience isn’t the actual ‘how it happened- what went down,’ it is ’did you feel supported?’. Remember, part of labor and birth’s power is going into the unknown and coming out the other side- we don’t know how it will all unfold- and every birth is different- what we can control is the support piece. Line up your support! It is crucial to ensuring that you feel supported no matter what the actuals are. If it it is in your budget, hire professional labor support (labor doula/birth coach) who will be on call and at your birth. If it’s not in your budget, often you can find a labor professional-in-training who is in process of gaining experience for their certification. Labor support professionals provide emotional, physical, and informational support to you and your partner. If you are having a hospital birth, they will ensure that you have continuous support no matter what else is happening in the hospital, when the nurses change shifts, and when your doctor or midwife is attending their other laboring patients- you and your partner will have your consistent support person which creates a better statistical outcome: shorter lengths of labor, less need for interventions and the long-term psychological benefit of increased self-esteem for having a positive birth experience. Again, the positive birth experience means: YOU FELT SUPPORTED! (i.e.. you were kept in the loop, you understood your options, you felt listened to and heard).
Powerful strategy #3) Prep your portable bubble- music + aromatherapy
We have the best labor outcomes when we feel safe and supported. Make a list of what type of atmosphere makes you feel relaxed, safe and supported and create a ‘positive atmosphere to-go’ kit. With music- include a playlist (include different styles of music so in the moment you have options). With aromatherapy- include a scented massage oil or room spray. Lavender is a relaxer and rose can help stimulate courage in labor. Base it on what smells best to you!
Powerful strategy #4) Open up to all the possibilities!
On a completely practical level this means prepping your body for labor by practicing relaxing. Yes, that’s right- you can prep for labor by relaxing!! Releasing muscle tension with massage & acupuncture as prep for labor can help your body to open up and relax more effectively in labor. Yoga and stretching fit in as powerful prep work, too. We have two sides to our nervous system- the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest). Massage and acupuncture help the body practice switching into the restful side of our nervous system which will make it easier to relax during labor!
On a mental level, open yourself up to trusting in the body’s wisdom- we are designed to do this! You are entering the unknown- and if you feel supported you will be able to take any new direction with flexibility and empowerment.
Powerful strategy #5) Breathe!
Again- you were designed to do this! Your body knows what it needs to do. Breathing is your connection to your strength, power and energy! It carries us through the process with the most ease possible. Breathing deeply will help keep you more relaxed and will help carry you through to a baby in your ams!