by Liza Janda AAHCC, E-RYT, RPYT

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If you want a safe and healthy birth for both you and your baby, take the time to understand what is normal in labor and birth.

Understanding the physiology of labor, or the normal function of our bodies during labor, can take away a lot of the fear many pregnant women have about their baby’s birth. Below are 7 aspects of preparing for labor and birth which will help you have less fear and more control over your whole experience of labor and the birth of your baby.

1. You can ALWAYS count on one thing in labor and birth – THE UNEXPECTED!

So, should you still write a birth plan? Absolutely! Not only write your birth plan, but review it with your care giver, have them sign it, and then have a copy at the office, at the hospital or birth center, in your pre-registration file, and bring 3 or 4 copies of your birth plan with you, to give to nursing staff, when you arrive at the hospital or birth center in labor. Cover all the bases with your birth plan and have positive expectations. Click here to learn How to write a birth plan.

3. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between an imagined experience and a real one.

So, it is extremely important to spend time, every day, actually visualizing the birth that you truly want. You can do this in many different ways. You can actually meditate on it. You can pray about it as though it has already happened with a sense of gratitude. You can write your imagined birth experience from beginning to end with specific details about how things happen, who is with you, what you do and say, the exact time labor begins, the time the baby is born, etc. Then read that story you’ve written every night before bed. Expect your birth to go as you imagine it will go. Click here for a Birth meditation. To get ideas of what you want or don’t want for your baby’s birth, read birth stories by clicking here. For Guided Imagery for practicing relaxation for labor, click here.

4. Understand that the stresses of labor are actually GOOD FOR YOUR BABY!

According to Dr. Sarah J. Buckley MD, the stress hormones you produce in labor and the contractions actually cause your baby’s body to respond with her own stress hormones. The contractions and birth experience boosts baby’s immune system, increasing circulation, and increasing lung surfactant, making it easier for baby to breathe after birth. It is much safer and healthier, for most babies to experience the contractions and to pass through the birth canal, where they pick up important, good bacteria, creating a healthier and stronger immune system. Babies born by planned Cesarean do not get any of these benefits of passing through the birth canal. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering: The Wisdom and Science of Gentle Choices in Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

5. Birth is inherently safe.

The proof of this statement is shown countless times during, mostly, second births. Second labors and births tend to be faster, with less complications than previous and subsequent labors and births. Ask around. Probably, many of your friends know at least one person whose healthy baby arrived in the car, on the freeway, on the bathroom floor etc. before the paramedics could get there to help. But if it’s your first baby, it will probably take a lot more time. Forget EVERYTHING you’ve ever seen or heard on TV or movies about labor and birth. They have nothing to do with reality. The average first time labor is 16-20 hours. Learn about the practices that increase safety for mother and baby, and what pregnant women need to know in order to have safe, healthy births.

6. Hiring a doula can enhance your relationship with your partner, and make your labor shorter and safer.

A good doula will get to know the two of you before your due date. Doulas observe how you communicate, and how your partner supports you. A good doula will encourage him to keep doing the things that are helping. She will step out of the way when necessary, and she will step in when dad needs a break. A doula can be a calming influence on the whole family. Find a doula

7.  The words you use will impact your birth.

Instead of “I am going to try to have a natural birth”, say, “I am having a natural birth.” The words you choose will manifest in your thoughts and your actions. ““I hope” is very positive, and yet “I will” is even more so. “I might” gets you facing in the right direction, while “I will” takes you all the way there. “I’d like to” helps you set your goals, and “I will” makes them happen. “I should” is good at nagging, yet “I will” is the master of achievement.”

Pregnancy, Labor, and Birth are the EASIEST part of parenting! Labor and birth are just a drop in the bucket, in the big scheme of all things parenting. It is very important to get as prepared for labor and birth as you can.  Ideally, take a class that is a minimum of 5 classes, 2 hours long. But don’t stop there! Attend breastfeeding support groups. Take parenting classes together. Take time for yourselves as a couple. The hard part begins after that very first breath.

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