Tracy Donegan is a Midwife, “positive birth expert”, emotional wellness specialist, author and Founder of GentleBirth – www.gentlebirth.com – an increasingly popular birth preparation program experienced through the GentleBirth App and at live workshops around the world. Donegan brought her positive birthing expertise and GentleBirth business model all the way from Dublin, Ireland to Silicon Valley two years ago. Positive birthing, reinvented. Tracy shares her tips for a positive birth.
Tracy Donegan’s 10 Tips for a Positive Birth
Choose your place of birth carefully- According to recent US research your risk of having a cesarean depends more on your choice of hospital than any health complications you or your baby may experience on the big day. Not all hospitals are the same and doing some homework in early pregnancy can make your pregnancy and birth a much more positive one.
Move your body in pregnancy and in labor– Half of all first time moms in the US are considered obese at the beginning of pregnancy. That doesn’t mean crash diets and CrossFit classes are recommended. Light exercise in pregnancy reduces the risk of complications and is good for you and your baby. You build endurance and focus – all helpful in labor. Being upright in labor is associated with shorter labors, less pain, and less fetal distress. You get to share those lovely happy hormones (endorphins with your baby too). Yoga, walking, swimming are great options.
Take an independent birth preparation class– Traditional hospital birth preparation classes often focus on what can go wrong in labor rather than what can go right. In an independent childbirth class you’ll learn about your hospitals policies as well as all of your options for the big day so you and your partner can navigate any decisions that need to be made more confidently. An independent instructor works for you – not the hospital.
Hire a Doula- There’s a saying ‘if doulas were a drug it would be unethical to not to use them”. There are many benefits to hiring a birth doula – including less need for pain relief, significantly reduced cesarean births, less Pitocin, a reduction in postnatal depression and higher breastfeeding rates.
Avoid the negative nellies– No doubt you’ve already met a few. Those well meaning friends and family members who can’t wait to tell you how awful labor is. Find your positive birth tribe – people who will uplift you, encourage you and keep you feeling excited about what’s to come. Find like-minded groups, both in person and online.
Partner Preparation- A well prepared partner is one of the most important tools in your labor toolkit. For too often partners have been sidelined in the birth room but with support, information and training they can be the rock you need on the day for emotional and physical support.
Written Birth Preferences- Written birth preferences are a wonderful communication tool. You’ve never met your nurse before so it’s a great way to help your nurse support the kind of birth you’re planning. It’s not a contract or guarantee but helps you and your partner explore your options for the big day and access personalized care rather than the standard hospital protocols which may or may not be evidence based.
Labor in Water- It’s also known as the midwife’s epidural. Deep warm water immersion shortens labor, reduces pain and allows for greater freedom of movement. You are weightless – absolute bliss in labor!
Build Your Labor Toolkit- Don’t give birth without a fit ball! Just sitting on it opens the pelvis and reduces pain as you move your pelvis around your descending baby. A TENS machine, acupressure, music and mental strategies can also help you feel calmer and more in control. Medication is also part of your labor toolkit – keep everything on the table for the most positive birth possible.
Focus On What Can Go Right- Despite what you see on Greys Anatomy in most cases birth goes really well for healthy women and babies. Your mindset heading into birth is hugely important. Train your brain in pregnancy to prepare for a calm, positive birth, whatever direction that birth takes.
Tracy Donegan, Founder and President of GentleBirth – www.GentleBirth.com – is a medically trained midwife, published author and positive birth expert.