In a medical system that prides itself on the use of technology and seems to control outcomes, how does a woman give birth with minimal interventions? Planning and preparation are required.
A healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet are a good start. Then a woman needs to become educated about birth. Preparation for birth helps a woman understand her body and ways to work with labor. The website, MothersAdvocate.org, is a good source of information. A number of print materials are available including a birth planning worksheet.
Choosing a care provider can be a challenge. It is wise to know a doctor’s (and the hospital’s) cesarean section rate. A couple can interview doctors and midwives to see their perspective on birth and interventions.
Finally, a woman needs good support and encouragement. This is where a midwife or doula can be helpful. A doula has received training in supportive care for labor, birth and postpartum–she does not interfere with the nurse’s role. The doula focuses on giving emotional support, guidance, assistance with positioning, massage. Sometimes the nurse is able to provide this support, but her attention is divided as she documents the progress of labor, watches the fetal monitor and communicates with the doctor. As a woman reaches the intensity of labor she needs someone to cheer her on, to tell that she is doing a great job and making progress. The person beside her must believe that the body is equipped for the process of birth, must give helpful guidance.