What if women prepared for their birth as they did for their wedding day?
Think about how much planning went into your wedding: You had to not only choose the date, but also the venue, flowers, colors, theme, cake, music, photographer, dress, shoes, food, bridesmaid dresses, your hair and nails, and all the other little details that made your day special and memorable.
What if you put the same energy and focus into preparing for your birth?
Can You Really Prepare for Birth?
Birth has never really been given a great name in our world. In fact, the first word that probably pops into your head when you hear about birth would be a pain. But, just like your wedding only lasts a day, so does labor and delivery. It may be a long day but, it opens the door to a new life, one with a new part of your heart that you will cherish for as long as you live. Just like your wedding, the birth of your child is also a big day, one that if you don't make the investment of time and money, may not go the way you want.
So there are so many resources out there for preparing for your wedding, what about having a baby? And where do I even begin?
Just like your wedding, there are many different categories you can break down preparation into:
Venue Hospital/Birth Center/ Home
Bridesmaids Support team
Schedule Birth plan
Food Health during pregnancy
Entertainment Comfort/pain medications during labor/birth
Wedding Planner OB/Midwife
Back-Up Plan Back up plan for if things go differently
Rehearsal Dinner Practice breathing, relaxing, and pushing
Photography Maternity photos, birth photos, newborn photos
Honeymoon Postpartum Care (massage, hired help, clothes, food)
Where do I Start?
When a woman begins to plan for her wedding, she does research. She will:
Watch wedding shows
Watch ALL the movies and TV shows with weddings in it
Look up wedding planning websites to get ideas and inspiration
Create a Pinterest board of ideas for themes, colors, etc
Talk to friends and family about their weddings and what worked/what didn't
Listen or read to people's wedding stories on blogs or websites
Look up reviews of wedding venues and different wedding vendors for who is the best
Finally, create a budget on what to spend where and save accordingly each month.
Birth is no different, there are many GREAT places to start research:
Look up different types of birth: at a hospital, birth center, or even a home birth
Look up different doctors out there and what their view on birth is (OB vs. Midwife)
Ask moms in the area who they liked/didn't like as a provider
Ask your friends and family who have children what their birth experience(s) were like
Read and listen to birth stories on blogs and podcasts
Look up childbirth classes, both virtual and in-person
Research how to create a birth plan and what options you have in your area
Look up different types of support you can have, such as a doula
Finally, create a budget on what to spend where, and save accordingly each month
But Doesn't My Body Know What to Do?
Yes! But our minds get in the way. If you have ever heard a traumatic story or experience from your friends such as a terrible college class or someone hating that one haunted house, you probably don't ever want to try it because your friend had such a bad experience, you're afraid of having the same one. The same goes for birth. Media portrays birth as incredibly painful and that is it. That you just need to get it over with and be done. That doesn't need to be the case at all! Just like our wedding days, birth is a day that you will remember, whether good or bad, so why not prepare both your body and also your mind to have a beautiful experience.
Plus as with anything your body can do, you need to practice to be better. If you have ever played a sport, your body may know how to kick or throw the ball, but without practice, you won't have a good game or be the best athlete that you can be. The same goes for birth! Your body knows how to push your baby out, how to breathe, and how to relax, but if you don't practice them when you are most relaxed and calm, how will you be able to use them effectively and the best you can when you are tired and in pain?
Should I Spend Money on Myself?
It can be very hard to spend money on yourself, especially after having spent a ton of money for your own wedding, and of course, saving to buy the house and the car. Again, I will say, all the preparation you invest time and money in during your pregnancy will tremendously help you prepare for your birth. Not it doesn't completely take away the pain, but it will help you to cope and even relax through it. No, it doesn't mean you will have everything that you plan for, but it does help you to prepare for the sudden changes that may occur during labor. Yes, it is an investment, but just like your wedding, it is an investment in a day that you will always remember, no matter what. And that is up to you as to how you would like to remember it.
(Besides, you will get SO MANY newborn items, it's good to take care of yourself as a mother!!! Trust me and many other moms on this, everyone thinks of the baby, very few think of the mother during and after the birth).
My Personal Recommendations for Must-Haves
Everyone's priorities and needs are different, which ultimately will determine what you want during your pregnancy and birth. These are my personal options to invest in based on experience and knowledge:
A good childbirth class/ books for knowledge
As you will quickly come to know there are MANY options out there for pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and newborn care. It can get overwhelming very quickly, so learn all that you can and ask questions.
Don't settle for a provider
Depending on your location, try to either look up or ask questions about various providers in your area, If you can, interview several to see who you like the most. Make sure to talk to all the providers in a group practice, as you may not get your exact doctor on the day of your delivery since they rotate who is on call. If you have a provider who you don't feel comfortable with or don't feel respected, you can try talking to them about scheduling longer visits for those conversations you would like to have, or even look into changing providers to someone who you feel comfortable with.
A great support system= hire a doula!
I promise am not biased on this one, but I have seen and experienced the differences between having support and not. Keep in mind that doctors, midwives, and nurses will not be with you 100% of your labor. They have their jobs and also many other laboring mamas to care for so don't rely on them for constant support. Plus doulas can provide constant support via phone during pregnancy for all your questions regarding the crazy amount of options you have and choices you will have to make regarding childbirth and newborn care.
After learning different comfort techniques to be used during labor (whether you are getting medication or not it is always good to learn them because you never know how long it will take for that medication to arrive or kick in) practice! Do this with your husband/partner especially since they will be most with you during early and active labor. You can practice relaxation techniques, different breathing techniques, repeating your mantra to yourself, and even how to effectively push.
This is the part that most moms overlook or just forget about, taking care of yourself after the birth. Whether you give birth vaginally or by C-Section, there will be some intense recovery for your body, and mind (hormones) over the next month. Make a plan that includes healthy food, help from family, friends, or even hiring a postpartum doula to help adjust to life with a newborn, and how to take care of yourself. Make an appointment for a massage, take a bath, have some delicious healthful snacks prepared for you, and have a friend or your doula to talk to process the birthing experience.