Hey there new parent-to-be! Or mama-to-be! So, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information (or lack thereof) about giving birth. But don't worry, I’ve got you!

Here are 10 things your provider (aka doctor or midwife) probably didn't tell you about giving birth that will help you feel more prepared and in control.

(And hey, if these pique your interest, bring these up to your doctor or midwife at the next appointment!)

1. You don't have to give birth in the hospital.

Giving birth at home or in a birth center can provide a more relaxed and intimate setting for the birth of your baby. It allows you to have more control over the birthing process and can provide a more personalized experience. This option is safe for low-risk pregnancies and has similar or better outcomes compared to hospital births. I often say - give birth wherever you feel the safest.

Question for your provider:  Would he/she support you and work with a home birth midwife if you decided to go this route?

Pregnant laboring woman is leading on her husband. He is looking at her with admiration. Her eyes are closed and is taking deep breaths.

2. Epidurals are not the only form of pain relief available during labor.

Epidurals are a common form of pain relief during labor, but they are not the only option available. Other forms of pain relief include nitrous oxide, TENS Units, spinal blocks, and natural methods such as hypnobirthing, mindfulness meditation, acupuncture, bathtub, birth ball, massage and so much more. These options can provide a more natural and less invasive form of pain relief.

Question for your provider: What other pain relief options do they see often that’s effective other than epidural?

3. You can bring your own music or sounds to the delivery room.

Music can have a powerful impact on our emotions, and it can help create a calm and soothing environment for you during labor. You can bring your own playlist, a sound machine, or even your own voice to help you relax and focus during labor.

Question for your provider: Can I bring music to the birthing room?

4. Birthing pools can help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during labor.

Warm water can help ease the pain and discomfort of contractions, and it also allows you to move around more easily, which can help the baby move down the birth canal. Birthing pools can also provide a sense of privacy and intimacy during labor.

Question for your provider: Are there birth pools at the hospital or another way I can use water to relax? What is your policy about using a birth pool after my water breaks?

a pregnant person is laboring in the bath tub. She is laughing and looking at her partner who is kneeling next to the tub. He is pouring water on her pregnant belly.

5. You will probably poop during labor (and that's okay!).

It's a normal and natural part of the birthing process, and your nurses, midwives, and doctors are used to it. Don't let this concern hold you back, it's nothing to be embarrassed about. They really don't care. They are so used to it that it's not a big deal! The nurses usually clean it up right away before you notice anything!

Plus, if you're pooping while pushing providers see it as a good sign that you're pushing correctly!

6. Birthing positions - there are many different positions that can help make the birthing process easier.

There are various birthing positions that can help make the birthing process easier, such as standing up, sitting down, on your hands and knees, or even lying down. Experiment with different positions to find what feels most comfortable for you.

Different positions can help baby navigate through the pelvis depending on what position the baby is in and what station. A nurse or a doula who was trained by Spinning Babies can help offer suggestions! 

Question for your provider: In what positions are you willing to help me birth my baby? When was the last time you helped someone give birth NOT on their back?

7. Doulas are a great support and aren’t only used for birth.

A doula is a professional trained to provide emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and postpartum period. A doula can help you with relaxation techniques, provide emotional support, and help you advocate for your wishes during birth.

Research has shown that birthing people who used a doula has a 25% decrease risk of cesarean, better Apgar score for baby, shorter labor, and more likely to be more satistied with the birth experience. Read more about this at Evidence Based Birth.

Did you know that I'm a birth doula AND a birth photographer? I offer a free consultation to see if we're a good fit together for your birth dream team!

Question for your provider: Do you work with doulas often? Are there any you recommend? Protip: if your provider doesn't want to work with a doula, that's usually a red flag.

White woman is giving a cool washcloth on a laboring woman in the birth pool at a birth center.

8. You can eat and drink during labor, if you want to.

Having a light snack can help keep your energy levels up. It's important to listen to your body and your healthcare provider during labor, and to make sure you are well hydrated and nourished. Here's the link to the Evidence Based Birth's page about Eating and Drinking in Labor.

Question: Under what circumstances will I not be allowed to eat or drink in labor?

picture of a cheez-it box on the legs of a pregnant person who is sitting on a hospital bed. She is eating a snack.

9. The power of the mind - visualization and other relaxation techniques can help during labor.

Visualization and relaxation techniques such as hypnobirthing, yoga, and mindfulness meditation can help you stay calm and focused during labor. It can also help to lower stress hormones and increase endorphins, which can make labor more manageable. 

Question: Is there anything I can do now to learn how to cope with labor? 

10. Cesarean sections are not as scary as they seem.

C-sections are a common form of delivery and can be planned, emergency or unplanned. Your doctor and nurses will take great care of you and your baby during the procedure. It's important to remember that a c-section is a surgical procedure and there are risks associated with it, but it can also save the lives of both the birthing person and baby in certain situations.

Question: In what circumstances do you perform c-sections?

Black baby is being held up after being born via c-section. The spotlight is on the baby. The newborn's eyes are closed and mouth is open. There are people in surgical masks and scrubs on both sides of the newborn.

So, there you have it, birth giver. You're armed with some new information that will hopefully help you feel more confident and excited about your birth!

About the Author Kristen Schell

Kristen is a birth doula, photographer and childbirth educator. She wants to help families feel inspired by what birth can be. It can be beautiful, empowering, supported, and evidence based.

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