Giving birth is one of the most life-changing experiences you and your body will go through, so it is only right that you have a say in how you want it to happen and luckily, women have more and more choices available to them.

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” Osho

This is the birth of you as a mother, and it is only right that it happens the way that is right for you.

Let us just preface this article by saying that not everything is an option for everyone, and that you will need a medical opinion to see what is safest or possible for you. While a home birth may be an option in many cases, there are situations which will require a planned or emergency C-section. Whatever your situation may be, we want to try and help you take control of the situation as much as possible and give you the power to shape the experience the way you would like it to be.

As you are waiting for this baby to arrive, you probably have ideas of how you would like things to go. Write down all the small details that matter to you, as well as the questions you may have (for yourself, for a professional, or another mother). Get an idea of what you know you want and what you are unsure about, and try to identify where those insecurities come from. Ask yourself some questions about what matters to you: Who you want with you (or who you don’t), how comfortable you are in hospitals in general, how worried you are about being in an emergency situation etc.

Slowly, an image will form and you can start looking at how you can achieve this birthing situation for yourself.

The main questions will be where, with whom, and with what kind of professional assistance.

Your options will be a hospital, at home, at a midwifery unit, or a birthing centre. You can also think about who will be with you and how you can prepare together. For example, your birthing partner should have the same knowledge of techniques as you and know your wishes. If you choose to have a home birth and more people will be around, think about what their tasks will be or how younger children will be taken care of, what rooms are ready for them and whether someone has their routines down.

Finally, you can opt to have a doula. She will be with you before, during and after the birth, giving you information (without advising), and advocating for you as well as working alongside medical staff should you be in a hospital or birthing unit.

Then you can start looking at other details and see how they fit into your plan: Have a look at birthing with pain relief or without, different breathing techniques and physical preparation.

If you are giving birth in a birthing centre or hospital, you may want to write your wishes down so you can pass them to someone on the day, as you are likely to be otherwise preoccupied.

You can download a free birthing plan template from the NHS

The best way to imagine what you do and don’t want, and clarify the ideas in your head is to look at other people’s birth stories. While every pregnancy, labour and birth is different, reading or listening through other mothers’ experiences will guide you towards what feels comfortable to you (or not).

You can look for stories closest to your situation or personal preferences, but if you need a starting point, take a look at Happy Parents Happy Baby, the Midwife Center or The Positive Birth Company. These are specifically positive experiences (look up birth trauma to be informed if it is something you are worried about) but they will guide you towards an understanding of what is important to you, and help you formulate your wishes to your birthing partner and the team you have chosen to give birth with.

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