Building a Birth Support Team
The birth of your child will be one of the most rewarding and challenging moments in life. It is important to surround yourself with people who recognize the magnitude of the event and share your birth philosophy. Select people who will stand up for you and can hold your vision of birth at each step during the process.
We encourage you to identify a birth partner (spouse, partner family member, close friend) and invite them into the birth preparation process and to go through each step together. Your partner will ideally be your primary support person and advocate during labor and birth. The more prepared your partner is to ask questions and make requests on your behalf, the more you’ll be set-up for an empowered and healthy birth.
Some women also choose to hire a doula, a labor support professional.Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily. Visit the Provider Network to find labor support professionals. You can also use the links to the left to learn more about some of the national labor support organizations and schools.
As much as you can, surround yourself with love and support while you prepare for birth as well as during the birth itself. As Ina May Gaskin says, “I think most of us would do well to have somebody with us who is comfortable in the energy of birth and who is kind and sweet and not scared. That’s probably 90% of what you need right there.”
Further reading on this topic:
The journey through birth is unpredictable and stressful, and even well prepared women or couples, when in the midst of intense labor, often find it difficult to apply their knowledge. It helps to have guidance and reassurance from experts, to help you relate the intense physical sensations and emotions of labor to what you already know intellectually. Your nurse, midwife, or doctor will offer some guidance, but may be limited by their clinical duties and the needs of other laboring women in their care. To be sure you will get the kind of help you need in labor, consider having a birth doula.
The pain of labor and birth worries most women. No one enjoys pain, and most of us are willing to go to great lengths to avoid it. The pain involved in childbirth is no exception. What women don’t usually know is that pain is central to nature’s simple, elegant design for labor and birth. Pain is not simply an unfortunate side effect of labor but is an important part of the normal process of labor and birth. Remove the pain by interrupting its flow and progression any place along the way, and you remove the signals that are your guide as you move through labor.
A good childbirth class gives you the information you need to make truly informed decisions, and teaches you ways to advocate for yourself. Today’s childbirth education classes help make sense of the vast amount of information you are likely to encounter during your pregnancy. Childbirth education can bring your birth back to the basics and help you let go of fear (really). The end result is a safer, more empowered birth.
Here are some suggested questions to encourage dialogue and help you get a sense of your care provider’s approach. It is a good idea to interview at least 2 to 3 providers. It is never too late to change providers if you are not comfortable with the answers you receive.
Alice laboring in shower © Shara Frederick