..The Intuitive Times


Creating a Postive Birth Experience

by Michelle Prouse,Certified Doula

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Are you expecting a baby? Then you may be wondering how to get ready to give birth. If you have started meeting with your caregiver then you have begun preparing for the medical side of birth, but how about the emotional, spiritual, and comfort aspects of childbirth?

While you cannot plan your labour there is a lot that you can do in preparation. Prenatal classes are a very good starting point for childbirth preparation. Your local family resource centre also has many good resources such as educational books and videos and knowledgeable staff. You may want to consider having a doula, or professional labour support provider, to help you prepare for and cope with childbirth. You may also want to write a birth plan for your caregivers about your preferences for the labour, delivery, unexpected circumstances and care of the newborn. Birth videos, articles, prenatal classes, and lots of discussion will help your partner prepare to support you.

Foremost on many expectant mothers' minds is the prospect of pain. The perception of pain is associated with fear and tension. Some find it helpful to think of these intense sensations in other terms. Barbara Harper, in her book Gentle Birth Choices, describes some visualizations for labour such as imagining that with every contraction you are riding a giant wave or melting like a candle. Ina May Gaskin, the author of Spiritual Midwifery, prefers to call contractions "rushes". Labour is not the pain of injury but of transition; it signals progress in the birthing process. Surrendering to these feelings will help you to relax and cope with every contraction as it comes.

But that doesn't mean you have to take the pain lying down! There are many comfort measures that may help you feel more relaxed and help advance your labour. Think of things that you do when you are feeling pain in everyday life: a warm bath or shower, a soothing massage from a loved one, a hot water bottle on the abdomen, aromatherapy (lavender is good in labour), music, conscious relaxation, or cold/heat on your lower back. Many women prefer an upright posture such as sitting, walking, squatting, all fours, or standing and leaning. If you are feeling exhausted, try dimming the lights and lying on your side with pillows.

Your environment makes all the difference to your level of comfort. Did you know that you may bring your own sheets to the hospital or wear your own clothes in labour? You can dim the lights if you find the room too bright. If you want to try music in labour bring a small tape recorder to the hospital. You can bring a special object or picture to focus on for contractions. Don't be shy about unpacking your comfort tools in the labour room so they are easy to access. Some women bring a small crock-pot to keep their water hot for aromatherapy compresses.

With good support and care, a few coping strategies, a comfortable environment, and most importantly, a positive state of mind, you will be most likely to have a fulfilling birth experience, however it unfolds.

Michelle Prouse is a certified doula based in Charlottetown. For more information on her services please call 894-3926,
e-mail prousem@hotmail.com or visit www.peidoula.com

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