Think back to planning your wedding day or your last big purchase. There was likely a fair amount of preparation involved.
In the case of your wedding, perhaps you visited various venues or vendors to know your options; and chose music, flowers or foods that best fit your preferences. Perhaps you stepped up your fitness and nutrition so you could feel your best for the special day. You prepared yourself for the event so you could relax and enjoy the special moments to come.
In the case of a big purchase, perhaps you researched your options, read reviews and did a walk-through or test drive to find the right fit. You prepared yourself with quality information needed to make the right decisions for you.
Birth is life-changing. It touches all aspects of our lives. Ina May Gaskin so expertly stated, “Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body and your spirit for the rest of your life.”
My best advice for people during pregnancy is to do the prep work. It really can make all the difference. But how do you prepare for something this momentous?
Prepare your body
Your body’s balance, tone and mobility, as well as the baby’s positioning, have a huge impact on the way your labor will progress. There are ways you can prepare your body and encourage good positioning before and during labor for a smoother birth.
Practicing prenatal yoga, in combination with a birth class that teaches specific movements and when to apply them, can be the difference between an achy pregnancy and long labor versus a feel-good pregnancy and efficient birth.
Prepare your mind
Research shows it takes an average 17 years before clinical practice changes to reflect what evidence shows is best for patients. Being able to identify evidence-based practices can help you determine what options are right for you.
Take a quality birth class independent of your birthplace, focusing less on teaching you the typical routine and instead providing you with options and the evidence behind those options. You’ll learn how to ask the right questions and advocate for your preferences, helping you move outside of the routine and into evidence-based care.
Prepare your spirit
Research shows practicing prenatal yoga supports better outcomes. Those who practice prenatal yoga experience fewer complications, less pain and less stress. They experience more normal, vaginal births and shorter, more comfortable labors. Prenatal yoga provides opportunities to tune in to your body, build confidence in your ability to give birth and learn to flow with your labor, all contributing toward a smoother pregnancy and birth.
I frequently hear from clients preparing for their second birth: “If only I had known this before my first birth.” They know the difference this kind of preparation makes.
Whether this is your first or your fourth birth, I encourage you to do the prep work. You will not regret it. It just might be the most valuable prep work you’ll ever do.
Lacy Knipper is a certified birth educator, doula and prenatal yoga instructor at Statera Integrated Health and Wellness Solutions in Dubuque.