What does it mean to have an empowered birth? I am sure by now if you are pregnant and reading blogs, books, and researching anything birth related you have heard the term. Is it only for those who want to have an unmedicated birth? The ones reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth? Absolutely not, an empowered birth is for all of us.
At twenty-five I had my first child. I didn’t even have an obstetrician. Once my nurse practitioner confirmed I was pregnant she referred me to an OB she worked with. I didn’t ask around, I didn’t visit more than one. I just went to the woman she suggested. My OB had me do all kinds of blood work and set me up for monthly visits. I asked very few questions and just showed up once a month. I got the Book What to Expect When You are Expecting and I skimmed through it, I didn’t even read the whole thing. I didn’t know what a doula was, I had no birth preferences and I didn't discuss my birth plan with my birth partner. It was almost like I was trying to ignore the fact that I was going to give birth. I was thrilled to be pregnant, but as far as thinking or learning about what to expect from birth, I did very little. The truth is I was afraid. I feared the idea of giving birth, and thought if I just ignored it and let the OB I barely knew lead me through it, I would be fine, my baby would be fine. This is not how you have an empowered birth.
As women we should research our options. We should ask obstetricians about their practice, their percentages, what they support and don’t support. We should consider hiring a doula, we should look for the right doula for us, we should research our options for childbirth. We should be informed. We should have birth preferences, we should discuss them with our birth partner, our doula, and our provider. We should have some expectations and we should be prepared and educated should things come up during our labor and childbirth. This is what it means to have an empowered birth. You want all the information and then you want to decide what is right for you and your family.
As doulas we get asked for resources and suggestions on what to read and how to prepare for an empowered birth, here are some of the things we suggest:
Read, read, read. There are many wonderful books on pregnancy and childbirth.
Childbirth education outside of the hospital. There are many different types of childbirth education, so do your research and find the best one for you. Bosom Buddy offers Your Birth Experience which lays out all the options and allowing you to determine your perferences. The parent guide is amazing!
Talk about your preferences with your provider, partner, and doula make sure you are on the same page. This is a good idea to do sooner than later!
Decide where you want to deliver: hospital, home, or birth center. Thankfully in Middle TN we have so many options!
Find a yoga studio that offers prenatal yoga and education. Here in Nashville we have a wonderful resource Blooma Nashville
Attend birth conferences or expos like the Empower Your Birth Conference in Nashville on March 12. (Stop by and say hello!)