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Need to Know

May 26, 2009 |
Need to Know,  |
Kellie Moeller, CNM

For Your Own Birth

Author: Pauline (polly) Perez, RN, BSN, ACCE-R

Following are steps toward taking responsibility for your birth.

1. Educate Yourself
Read everything about childbirth that you can. You will find that you often read conflicting information and this may be confusing to you. Do not worry about the confusion. It is better to be confused than to only know one point of view. If you are confused with some information you read, consult your childbirth educator or primary caregiver (midwife or physician.)

Search out childbirth classes that are both comprehensive in approach and small in size. Be sure that your childbirth educator is certified. Simply being a maternity nurse or an interested consumer does not make you a childbirth educator. Childbirth education requires a totally different set of skills from other occupations.

2. Keep yourself and your baby healthy
It is not the job of the midwife or physician to give you a healthy baby; it is your job to grow a healthy baby. Learn all you can about nutrition and its effect both on your developing baby and your labor and birth. Avoid alcohol, drugs of any kind, and caffeine while you are pregnant.

3. Learn about places of birth.
Don't rely on preconceived ideas about where is the best place to give birth. Do your own research. Find out how birth differs in a hospital, birth center, and home environment. Find out what makes birth SAFE in all those settings.

4. Learn what makes birth safe.
It is not equipment or the place that makes birth safe. Learn what YOU do to make your birth safe. Be sure that this topic is addressed in your childbirth class. How does your health both physically and emotionally change the outcome of your birth? What makes you feel safe?

5. Choose a supportive caregiver.
Don't settle for average-seek the best. Physicians, Certified Nurse Midwives, and lay midwives all can be supportive caregivers. Find out what makes the care from each of them different. It is important that you like your caregiver and know that they are giving you complete information with which you can make informed decisions about yourself and your baby.

6. Make your preferences clearly known.
Decide what is important to you in your birth experience and discuss this at length with both your physician or midwife and those at your chosen birth site. Do not be falsely reassured by the words family centered care. Ask not only whether it is possible for you to do something (for instance, deliver without an episiotomy) but HOW OFTEN this is done. This will help you have a clearer picture of the chances for you to get what you want.

7. Ask questions.
Ask questions until you have no more questions to ask. If you aren't sure what questions to ask check with your childbirth educator. Through education you will know what questions to ask. Be sure that your childbirth education class encourages questions.

8. Change caregivers or place of birth to get what you need.
Don't settle for "we don't do that here." Find out who does it or where it can he done. Remember that all medical caregivers (childbirth educators, nurses, physicians, midwives) work for you. If one of us is not doing the job, fire us and hire someone who can do the job you need. We do not own you. Seek out what is best for you.

Blog Posted: May 26, 2009
Posted by: Kellie Moeller, CNM
President HomeBirth Experience, Inc.