I recently polled a group of mothers to find out what they wish they had known about birth before giving birth themselves. The results were fascinating! Here are the top 5 answers:
#5 - Epidurals don't always work.
Lots of mothers want to try to give birth with as few interventions as possible. Others know they want the epidural as soon as they walk through the hospital doors. If you are thinking you'd like to birth with an epidural, my advice is to research your other pain relief options before labor. There is a chance that your epidural won't be as effective as you'd hoped it would be, and you'll want to have some other options to try. As wonderful as epidurals can be (I've had 3 myself), they are NOT going to take away your pain completely. Be prepared for feeling a little uncomfortable and arm yourself with other comfort techniques.
Regardless of how you decide to cope with your labor and delivery pains, you'll never regret preparing yourself for a variety of birth scenarios!
#4 - Trust your body/instincts.
I am a firm believer in God-given mama instincts! We are in tune with our bodies all the time, but especially during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. If something doesn't feel right, mention it to your care provider. If you're worried about something, mention it to your care provider. If you have questions about procedures, protocols, or interventions, mention those questions to your care provider. Peace of mind is important, and stress isn't good for the mama or the baby. When in doubt, call your care provider.
You are paying your provider for their expertise! I
Don't be afraid to speak up to them about things that are concerning you.
#3 - Have a birth plan, but BE FLEXIBLE.
The power in having a birth plan isn't the plan itself, but the research you put in to writing your plan. Know ALL of your options, even if you have already decided on the type of birth you'd like. Research everything. Take a Childbirth Education Class. Read a variety of birth stories.
Birth rarely goes the way we plan for it to, so knowing all of your choices will help if/when unexpected situations arise.
#2 - Hire a doula.
Doula support during labor is priceless. Research tells us that families that have a doula support them during labor and delivery are more satisfied with their birth experience and have better birth outcomes than those who do not have a doula attend their birth.
"Studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases:
-the overall cesarean rate by 50%
-the length of labor by 25%
-the use of oxytocin by 40%
-requests for an epidural by 60%." (www.americanpregnancy.org)
And the overwhelmingly most common response to what mothers wish they had known about birth before giving birth was.....
#1 - Avoid Unnecessary Inductions.
Inducing or Augmenting labor is extremely beneficial when the mother or babies health is at risk, but both come with risks. Inducing labor before the mother's body is ready drastically increases her risk for a cesarean delivery. Pitocin can make contractions unnaturally painful and intense, which can both negatively impact the baby. Having and induced or augmented labor usually means continually monitoring and limited mobility during labor. If you find yourself facing a medically necessary induction or have a labor that needs augmentation, ask your care provider for ALL of your options. Most of the time, there are many different routes you can take. Knowing all of your options and being a part of the decision making process will help make your birth experience more satisfying- even if it didn't go the way you had hoped.
*** Thank you to the South Mississippi Birth & Breastfeeding Mamas group for your input!**
Do you have anything to add to the list? What do you wish that you had known about birth before giving birth?