If you think you'd like to avoid any of the previously discussed interventions during your birth, don't wait and see how things go when you're actually in labor. Instead, arm yourself with knowledge and the intention to have the birth experience you want.
Negative birth experiences have been linked with postpartum depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder. No provider can guarantee that you'll have the outcome you hope for, but giving birth with a provider you really trust and feeling like a partner in your own care can help you understand what happened and give you a feeling of peace about your birth experience, even if it didn't go perfectly according to plan.
Learn All You Can
Read books on childbirth, study comfort techniques, and learn about methods like Lamaze or birth hypnosis. Take a childbirth-education class, but don't be discouraged if the teacher seems to assume you'll end up with a very medical birth — if that's not what you want, you can work toward something different. Find resources that can help you educate yourself.
Communicate Your Wishes
By the time you've reached your last trimester of pregnancy, you should be talking with your doctor or midwife about his or her philosophy on birth and intervention, as well as how he or she plans to help you avoid unnecessary and unwanted medications or other procedures. Sooner is better than later here, since you may want to switch providers if you find that your current caregiver is unable or unwilling to assist you in pursuing the kind of birth you want.
How can I know if my hospital or birth center is breastfeeding friendly?
Unicef and the World Health Organization (WHO) have created the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, which gives its stamp of approval to hospitals and birthing centers that follow 10 steps to make the facility breastfeeding friendly, such as allowing unrestricted breastfeeding and helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within an hour of birth.
Check Out Your Birthplace
The hospital or birth center where you'll give birth will likely have a larger say in what goes on during your labor than your provider, who may not even arrive on the scene until you're ready to push. It's very important to tour the place where you intend to give birth and find out its policies and procedures.
Will you be able to eat and drink during labor? What about IVs and routine fetal monitoring? How will they help you with breastfeeding? Not all lactation consultants are created equal.
Sometimes, the nurses in a maternity unit will have preferences for the kind of birth (i.e., highly medicated or low intervention) they like best, and will try to match up their preferences with patients who also want those kinds of births. And no matter what sort of nurse you have, she won't know your wishes if you don't tell her.
Consider hiring a doula to assist you with your birth. A doula will provide support in achieving the birth experience you want and act as an advocate on your behalf. She can free your husband or partner up from the stressful job of coach, and make sure your wishes are communicated to the medical staff and that you understand any procedures or interventions your doctor or midwife wants to perform.
Even if your doctor or midwife is very familiar with your birth plan, it's still crucial to inform the nurses on staff when you go into labor. In most hospitals and many birth centers, nurses do the majority of the labor care — as mentioned previously, your doctor may not even arrive until you're ready to push!