Pregnant women are increasingly seeking an “Empowered Birth Experience,” but they aren’t quite sure how to achieve it. The Perinatal Advisory Council (PAC/LAC) has identified some valuable tips for pregnant moms.
- Be knowledgeable. Educate yourself so that you will feel confident when making decisions about labor and delivery. Every medical intervention impacts your expected outcome, so make sure that you have enough information to make an informed decision before agreeing to anything.
- Write a birth plan that won’t be ignored. Don’t just copy and paste something off the Internet – that will turn your healthcare providers off and make them unlikely to read it. Instead, do your research and write down simple notes about your ideal goals for the birth, any medical interventions you would like to avoid, laboring positions you’d like to try and preferences for pain medication. Your healthcare providers will respect your birth plan as long as you have personally invested the time in researching and developing it and you understand the need to be flexible: no matter what you do, not everything will go exactly as planned.
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- Know the signs of labor. Although labor patterns can vary from woman to woman, labor pains are generally described as feeling like a belt is wrapped around the midsection of your stomach, and the belt is being tightened from front to back. The pain becomes worse on a consistent basis as labor progresses. If you change your position or move around, the intensity and frequency of your contractions should not change. If you understand the signs described here, you can better describe your symptoms and help your caregivers give you solid advice about when to come to the hospital.
- Know your post-delivery options. This is important for baby and for you. Would you like to have immediate skin to skin contact with your baby? Would you like to try nursing right away? Will your baby be circumcised? Think beyond the birth itself and plan out what you would like to do after the birth. Then check with your hospital to find out if they can accommodate your wishes and remember that sometimes plans simply have to change.
These tips can help put the power back into your hands, so that you can take an active role in your childbirth experience.
Cindy Fahey, MSN, RN, PHN – Executive Director, PAC/LAC
Cindy has more than thirty years of maternal child health experience. Her clinical experience is diverse, having worked in almost every area of maternal child health including Labor and Delivery, Pediatrics, Perinatal Education, Ambulatory Care and Public Health. Over the years she has also been certified as a childbirth educator, infant massage instructor and lactation educator. She holds both a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Nursing and has been involved with many community-based organizations over the years.