Is there such a thing as a “perfect” birth? One of the first lessons of parenthood is often that no matter what expectations you bring into a situation, you’re almost always going to be thrown a curve ball somewhere along the line. For many parents, this lesson is learned during labor. What matters isn’t perfection or meeting 100% of our expectations; what matters most is that you feel honored and respected, and the elements YOU feel are most essential for a positive birth experience are in place. That’s why it’s important to understand what values lay beneath our expectations.
Our ideas of perfection tell us a lot about who we are and what we value. When you dream about your perfect birth, what does it look like? Would it be peacefully at home? Then perhaps what is most important, even more so than perfection, is a sense of security, comfort and intimacy. Would your perfect birth involve few or no medical interventions? What may be most important to your birth experience involves trusting your body and surrendering to the power of labor. In both of these scenarios, “perfection” could be lost, if unavoidable, while still preserving a positive birth experience if the underlying values are respected.
Letting go of perfection doesn’t mean letting go of the reins. Instead of a perfect birth, a better thing to plan and prepare for is your best birth. There are definite steps that you can take right now to prepare for a beautiful birth:
1. Do your homework
Preparation goes a long way. Learn about your body and birth options, and then examine your values to determine what is most important to you and why. Find a knowledgeable and passionate childbirth educator; taking classes not only helps to prepare you mentally but also emotionally by connecting with other expectant parents.
2. Fuel your body well and keep it strong
Never underestimate the power of diet and exercise when it comes to a healthy pregnancy and healthy birth.
3. Choose a care provider who supports you
It’s your birth, so it’s important to make sure that your midwife or doctor supports you and your decisions. No matter where you are in your pregnancy, it’s not too late to look for a care provider whose views of birth align with yours.
4. Find a doula
Studies have proven that women who receive continuous labor support are more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth with a shorter labor than women who labor without such support. Ask friends, relatives, your childbirth educator or care provider for recommendations. You can also search online for doulas in your area. Not sure if you need a doula? This article can help you learn more.
5. Trust your gut
It’s your body and you know it better than anyone. Listen to your inner voice and trust yourself. Be ready for bumps in the road, but trust your ability to navigate any obstacles that arise by drawing on your knowledge and emotional depth.
When you are informed, respected and empowered then the birth experience that follows may not perfect, but it will be yours. There is a freedom to be found in releasing the idea of meeting every single expectation and instead embracing the beauty of the moment – your moment.
If you are looking for more information on planning for birth, check out our Birth Choices booklet. It is filled with information to help you find a great birth team and communicate your desires for birth.
Jennifer Stutzman, Freelance Writer
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