Preparing for a Positive Birth Experience
Published on: November 17, 2019
When you are pregnant it’s important to prepare yourself mentally and physically so that you can be in control and make choices for a positive birth. Here are the key aspects to consider on your journey to motherhood.
By Iasnaia Maximo
I used to live in Amsterdam, where I worked as a Doula and also ran the Positive Birth Movement monthly meetings. The model of care was women-centered even when birth becomes medicalized. Once in Bangkok, I had to make some adjustments and adapt to the local birth system landscape, I had no expectations and continued to apply the same concepts that are essential to achieve a positive experience regardless of the type of birth you will have.
When it comes to having a baby in Bangkok, you need to make the best from what is on offer and your options will be certainly limited, as there are no self-standing birth centers or midwife-led units and the impossibility, due to legalities, of having a licensed medical provider attending your birth at home. And with the majority of providers preferring a schedule surgical birth, you will need to sift the wheat from the chaff from a handful of doctors who understand birth physiology and are supportive of vaginal births.
Giving birth in Bangkok is not as straight forward as “going to the hospital and delivering”- not in most cases. The work you put into researching your options, hospitals, and gathering information, looking into what the evidence says, carefully interviewing doctors to discover if their style of practice is aligning with your wishes, will surely pay off. And when I say choices I mean, educate yourselves to understand the physiological process that unfolds, what each medical procedure entails and the alternatives. This applies if an unmedicated vaginal birth, or natural birth, is what you have in mind. If it is a medicated birth what you want, find out how to make the epidural work for you, when to take it, to change and rotate positions on the bed and that you don’t need to push on your back and use stirrups — there are options. If a planned C-section is on the cards, you can still have your baby and your partner in recovery with you. Even when circumstances change during your pregnancy you still have choices. If you don’t make your choices known, the decision will be made for you.
Your doctor may be very experienced, famed and run a busy practice which may leave you with a very short appointment. You may still have plenty of questions and need answers. Ask the questions that are relevant for you or better, tell the medical provider what you expect from him/her and see if there is a common understanding. A birthing person must be able to access (or should I say extract) the information they need from their care provider. People are different and some will need to know in detail and others will prefer to leave all at their doctor’s discretion. But pregnancy is not an illness and birth doesn’t always require medical or technological interventions. Some are wonderfully beneficial when truly needed and others can delay or even hinder the birth process. The way to have your choices and wishes respected during birth comes through clear, evidence-based information exchange and with informed consent.
Confidence and Trust
Once you have squared up and decided on an experienced, capable and hopefully caring and responsive Obstetrician, work on building the trust and rapport with your doctor, to the point where you can completely rely on his/her decision in a true case of emergency. Make sure your agreement with your doctor is in black and white, a.k.a. birth plan. The last thing you would want is to have to negotiate and argue about your birth preferences mid-labor. As a Doula, I encourage parents-to-be to attain full confidence in their care provider, to establish an open dialogue and mutual respect; and in case they do not feel convinced, there are always other medical professionals, even at the last minute.
Control of Protocols
You probably have realized during your pregnancy that obstetric care is ruled by medical and hospital protocols. For example, testing all women for Group B Strep Infection (GBS) as a blanket rule. This is not backed by conclusive evidence if based exclusively on the outcomes and can vary from country to country. Protocols are not law, and certainly, they are not people. They are in place to better manage pregnancy, labor, and birth and are based on medical practices, statistics, risks, some on evidence and others based on purely legal aspects and are intended to avoid litigation. Your needs as an individual are unique and protocols can be adapted and adjusted to suit your medical history and personal requirements, so don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself if you disagree or prefer another alternative.
Birth is a marathon, it requires stamina, energy, fuel, good breathing techniques and pacing yourself. It also makes you feel sweaty, hot, tired and a bit out of it (blame the endorphins). Take your time to build up your strength by walking, swimming, cycling, or any other sport that you enjoy. In the last stages of pregnancy, adding gentle physical activities such as prenatal Yoga and Pilates will help to length and relax your muscles, fascia, and ligaments priming for labor. A 20-minute walk in Bangkok while pregnant will count as hours in the gym.
So, you have amassed quite some knowledge, done childbirth classes, found your ideal doctor and hospital, and you are both ready to meet your baby. Now, comes the most challenging part — letting go. Sort out any work, family, couple dynamics or personal issues prior to the onset of labor. Let go of your worries, fears, concerns, negative birth stories, and other people’s opinions. Forget about all that and abandon yourself into labor, allowing it to take over your mind and body to soon meet your baby. Accept that birth takes time and see it as a transformational process in which you also will be reborn as a mother. Do this for each birth – rather than an ordeal you will have to endure in order to have a baby. Although knowledge is a wonderful thing and practical tools will be helpful, it will not birth your baby for you. Feeling secure, loved, cared, accepted and respected will.
About the Author
Iasnaia, a Brazilian with a pinch of Irish, who started out as a Lawyer, now dedicates her time and passion to empower and support women in all aspects of motherhood as a Doula and HypnoBirthing practitioner. In Thailand since July 2016 with her German husband and their 2 Amsterdam home born boys, together they enjoy eating their way through Bangkok and traveling She is part of BAMBI Bumps & Babies team. www.maedoula.com
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