When you’re pregnant it's difficult to focus on anything other than what’s going on with your body. And, in my experience, it's impossible to focus on what's going to happen to your body as you inch closer to your due date. Labor is an incredibly intense, life-altering experience, so of course us soon-to-be moms want to read all the books, talk to all our friends, and do all the research we can. But there are things midwives want pregnant women to know about labor that, I think, are extremely beneficial for all pregnant women to hear, regardless of whether or not they have a midwife, birth at home, birth at a hospital, have an OB-GYN, give birth vaginally, or have a C-section. After all, there's no such thing as being "too prepared" for childbirth.
While an OB-GYN can certainly explain the ins and outs of the labor and delivery process, in my experience midwives often have a deeper connection with their pregnant patients and childbirth. If you birth in a hospital chances are you will see your nurses far more than you will your OB-GYN, for example, while midwives usually spend way more one-on-one time with you as you go through the various stages of labor and delivery.
The practice of midwifery itself has also existed for a much longer time than obstetrics, and midwives tend to have a bit more time to answer your questions and ease your labor-related fears. Romper reached out to a few midwives who were willing to drop some knowledge about labor and delivery, so if you’re currently pregnant (or plan to be) it might be helpful to pick up what they're putting down.
“You need to prepare for your birth like any big event — less like a wedding and more like a marathon. Taking good care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest, despite your discomfort, is so important. Arm yourself with knowledge and become educated about your choices — not just what your choices are, but what does the evidence say about them. Take comprehensive, independent childbirth education classes. And surround yourself with support, from your provider to your partner (if you have one).”
"Seek and know that you deserve care and support that is empowering. There's nothing like a solid tribe for taking on the task of motherhood.”
“I’d like them to know that you can’t plan birth. You can have a wish list of things you hope for, but you have no control over your uterus, your fetus, or your placenta. Nor can you predict how your body or your fetus will react to labor. So educate yourself about the physiology of labor and delivery and then let it happen. Trust your body to do its job, and your provider when you need guidance and help.”
“Women should approach pregnancy as an opportunity to work on themselves, pay attention to themselves, and work through any issues they have emotionally. They should see themselves as partners with their practitioner, and self-educate as much as they can. The more she knows the more empowerment she will feel through this journey into motherhood. Also, a woman should get in as best shape as possible. Take the stairs at work, sit on a birth ball, limit sugars and refined carbs. And above all, listen to and trust her body and her instincts.”
“If you’re low-risk, plan a home birth. Also, in labor, don’t exhaust yourself. Especially in early labor.”
“There are so many important things to consider during pregnancy: nutrition, hydration, activity level, etc. Pregnant people often get inundated with this type of advice so I will go in another direction.
In my experience, one of the most critical decisions that a family can make is their choice of care provider and birth location. This will have the single biggest impact on their overall experience and outcome. I advise families to truly and seriously consider how they want their birth to look, and then seek out providers who can honestly support those choices. If a family wants to have an epidural in labor then they should choose a provider and a location that routinely offers them, as they will be very good at performing them. If a family wants an unmedicated or 'natural' birth, they should choose a provider and location that routinely offer them so they will have the experience and support to provide that. It is all about choice, informed consent, and having transparent open discussions with possible providers. And as a small side note to that, never be afraid to switch providers if the one you have is not making you feel comfortable or supported.”