Congratulations - you’re pregnant!! What kind of birth do you desire? In a hospital? Out of the hospital? Medicated? Unmedicated?
You have a ton of choices for your labor and birth. You do not know about your choices unless you discover them! Is your care provider *really* in line with the type of birth you desire?
Imagine for a moment - that you are planning your wedding on a beach in Cozumel, Mexico. You have rented a beautiful all-inclusive five star resort, based on the reviews your friends and a little bit of Googling provided you. It didn’t cross your mind to speak with anyone FROM Cozumel or hire a travel agent. You’ve planned your wedding down to the last detail, and you can’t wait to see how it will all unfold. You’ve got this!
Unfortunately, your airline has a bad reputation for over-booking flights, and the date you had planned to fly out has now been canceled. Your airline tells you that you have to leave a week earlier than planned. It goes downhill from there. The five start hotel you had planned on staying at is no longer an option. You are stuck with a two star - at best. You make due because you try to make the best out of the circumstances, but the final straw ends at your reception dinner. You had arranged to serve your guests steak and shrimp - the caterer told you from the beginning - "That's a great choice, we can do that"...However, as you sit down to eat you realize they have made chicken fried steak with crawfish. Why? Because their version of steak is different than your version of steak.
While this is hypothetical, it is a general scenario for a birth. You think you are arriving at a hospital for an unmedicated or your ideal birth, allowing certain people in the room, dim lights, freedom to move around, etc and NOTHING like that happens.
There are over a 100 options available for your birth planning, and many of them you may not have heard of before.
How do you learn those options?
Hire a doula! Doulas are familiar with your hospital and most likely your provider.
Take a quality childbirth education class - not just the hospital classes. No matter what kind of research you have done, you need a deeper insight. You will learn things you didn’t know you needed to know. Your instructor may have some insight on the birth practices on your hospital and possibly even your provider. Once you know what kind of birth you really want, you can talk to your provider and see if they will be supportive.
This is where it gets tough. While some providers are upfront and honest about how they practice - and will tell you in advance that they can’t provide some of the things that are important to you - some are not as transparent. It might be that many doctors have good intentions, and really do mean it when they say “Oh yeah, we can do all of that”, but if they really only do those things *some of the time*, and make it sound as if that is the norm, you might come away from your birth feeling cheated and lied to. This.happens.every.day.
This is where doulas come in helpful: If you sit down with your doula and say "I want this kind of birth, do you know if I can REALLY get this with my provider and my hospital?" They just might be able to provide you with the hard truths. If you don't ask, she may not tell you because she wants to support you and not alienate you from your provider. It can be a fine line to walk for doulas as they try to create relationships with providers, while also helping and fully supporting their clients. Your doula will most likely know if your flight is going to be moved up, and if your caterer considers chicken fried steak the equivalent of filet mignon. If you are okay with that, so is she! She will support you with all of your choices. Just know, that they are more familiar with the birth practices at certain places than your friends and Google.
Some people don’t care what happens, as long as they just get married! The commonly used phrase - we just want "a healthy mom, and a healthy baby" - there is nothing wrong with this approach to birth. If that’s you, that’s okay!
We just want parents to know that there are options - some they may not have known existed. Furthermore, it can be hard to navigate unplanned situations as well. Having someone by your side to help you no matter what the circumstances helps you accept the things you couldn’t change. This can be both empowering and help prevent post-traumatic stress from undesired birth outcomes.
A doula is like your travel agent and wedding planner. She can help you learn about your birth options and help you to find out what is most important for you. She can then guide you on ways to build your birth plan and navigate those unseen delays, twists, and turns while empowering you to speak with your provider about those important choices that you and your partner desire during your birth.
Studies show that when women receive continuous support from a doula, they are more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births, less likely to have pain medication, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, negative feelings about childbirth, and their chances of having a cesarean were reduced! In addition, their labors were shorter, Pitocin augmentation, was used less, and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth and had less risk of needing to go to the NICU.
The studies also showed that the best results occurred when woman had continuous labor support from a doula–and not someone from the mother's social network, or someone provided by the hospital staff. --2012, Hodnett et al.
Know your options, hire a doula, and take a quality childbirth education course!
Looking for a doula or childbirth education in DFW? Visit http://www.serenitybirthservices.com/
Searching for a doula outside of the DFW area? Visit https://doulamatch.net/
DoulaVersity also offers doulas in training and trainings for doulas - www.doulaversity.com