Who doesn't want an empowering birth experience? The steps that you will take leading up to your birth are so important - not only for the birth itself but also for your transition into the post-partum period. So here it is, my recipe for creating an empowering birth:
- Emotional Preparation
Simple, right? Although these three ingredients might seem simple, there is a lot involved in each. So, I'm going to break them down a little bit further below.
Making INFORMED CHOICES is an essential part of creating an empowering birth experience for yourself. Think about what you want your birth to look like, do your research, and make a plan. The way you birth your baby is your choice and NOBODY else's! There will be many people offering their opinions/perspectives/demands about how you should birth your baby, which can be overwhelming. However, when you have done your research and you know what is best for you, this will give you the power to stand up for yourself and assert your right to make informed choices for how you are treated and for what happens during your pregnancy, birth, and post-partum period.
"Informed consent rights are extremely important to women’s experience during birth. One of the biggest factors in whether you remember your birth as a positive or negative experience is the degree to which you feel informed and involved as decisions are made in terms of your maternal health."
- Taken from "Understanding Informed Consent" by Jessica Austin, Birth Takes a Village
And, your perspective of whether your birth was positive or negative also is a huge indicator of whether you will view your birth as traumatic or not! Use your power.
2. Emotional Preparation
Preparing emotionally for your birth is as essential part of creating opportunity for an empowering birth and positive transition into the post-partum period. Fear is one of the biggest obstacles to having a positive birth & post-partum experience; so don't let it stop you from achieving what you want! Take the time to explore and process your fears and other emotions around your birth/post-partum, and identify what you need to do to move past these to achieve your goal of having an empowering birth.
When women invest time into emotionally preparing for their births, they give themselves a much higher chance at having an empowering and positive birth experience and a positive transition into the postpartum period.
It's also very important to process past experiences that might impact your birth experience and transition into the postpartum period. There are often many negative internal dialogues that women have playing on repeat that interfere with our trust in ourselves to birth and care for our babies. These could be messages received during your last birth, from hearing other women's birth stories, or from past experiences in your life completely unrelated to birth but related to your ability to believe and trust in yourself and your body.
Choose to surround yourself with people who support your vision and your goals for your birth and post-partum period. Think carefully. Some people who are "supportive" in general won't necessarily be the most supportive people for you during your pregnancy and birth. Make sure that the people you choose to let in during this time can meet you where you are - and can respectfully support your choices. The last thing you need is people who try to convince you to do anything that you don't think is right for you. So not only does this include your family and friends that you want involved during this process, but also your healthcare providers. Choose your doctor/midwife carefully! And consider getting a doula - their role is to support you in your choices!
So there it is, my recipe for creating an empowering birth! What else would you add? Comment below!