Giving birth is one of the biggest moments in a mother’s life. 40 (ish) weeks of anticipation lead up to this event that is filled with so many emotions and as much as we try to plan out the experience, chances are things won’t go as planned. Which is not always a bad thing! While there are a lot of things out of our control throughout the birthing process, there are also a lot of things we can do to prepare ourselves for the moment our little one joins us earth side.
Choosing where you give birth is not always a simple decision! There are a lot of options out there which can be overwhelming, so here’s a high level view of some options:
Hospital births account for the majority of births in the United States. Typically, you’ll work with your care provider to find the hospitals in your area (and that work with your provider) and you’ll do a tour of the facilities to get familiar with them and decide what’s right for you.
Many hospitals now have additional birthing options for parents like tubs, birthing centers, and other helpful tools through the birthing process if that’s something you’re interested in.
Very Well Family has a great comprehensive list of questions you should ask on your hospital tour.
What Should You Pack for a Hospital Birth?
Packing a hospital bag ensures you not only have the essentials the hospital doesn’t provide, such as a nursing bra and car seat, but it also allows you to bring things from home to help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during delivery and while in recovery after your baby is born. Plus you’d never want to pass up the chance to buy and pack the cutest little outfit for your baby’s first picture!
Birthing Centers can often be found in hospitals or nearby. Birthing centers are great for providing a low-tech, family-centered childbirth experience for healthy women with low risk for complications. Birth centers feel more like a home than a hospital and provide you with tools that can assist in a natural birth like comfortable beds with real linens, rocking chairs, aromatherapy, birthing balls, tubs, and on-staff doulas.
Birthing centers are also equipped with backup plans should an expecting mother need to be transferred to a hospital.
Questions to Ask Your Birthing Center
According to a 2021 study by the CDC, home birth rates have gone up since the pandemic. Since 1990, home births have accounted for approximately only 1% of all births, but through 2020 this percentage saw a 19% increase to 1.26% of all births reported. (In 2019 there were 38,506 home births reported and in 2020 there were 45,646).
When you look at the statistics for non-Hispanic Black women, in April, home births increased 30%, from 0.54% to 0.70%. Home births in 2020 continued to exceed 2019 levels for May through December with increases ranging from 20% to 63%. The percentage of home births peaked in December, increasing from 0.49% in 2019 to 0.80% in 2020 (63%). https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr70/NVSR70-15.pdf
Read more about some of the disparities in health care here.
A home birth takes place in your home with the assistance of a midwife and maybe a doula. Families that choose a home birth are those who might feel more at ease in their own space and want a natural birth with no medical intervention. Home birth is not an option for high-risk pregnancies or breech babies.
Preparing for a Home Delivery
Your midwife and doula will be your best resources in setting up your home and preparing mentally for your home birth. The most important thing is that you have what you need to labor comfortably – a comfortable bed, mattress, tub, couch etc…
Think through the entire experience! What smells and sounds calm and ground you? What people do you want (or not want) around you? You might consider taking birthing classes or reading up on different techniques for pain management and calming.
Alternative Pain Management
Hypnosis uses audio, visualization, meditation, and relaxation techniques to help managed pain during labor and delivery. This method is not only available in home births! Some families will bring audio recordings into their delivery room at the hospital or birthing center and listen throughout labor and delivery. There isn’t a lot of research around this method as pain management, but some studies do show that it helps with discomfort in labor.
Experts do suggest that you begin familiarizing yourself with this technique early on in pregnancy so when it comes time to give birth, you’re comfortable with the method. You don’t need to be a meditation expert! But practice helps. You can attend HypnoBirthing classes, or use books or online resources to learn about the method.
Birthing with Acupuncture
Acupuncture uses small needles to stimulate various points on the body and can help labor progress and can also help reduce pain. If you’re planning on a birth in a hospital or birthing center, ask if they will allow you to bring in an acupuncturist. Acupressure is another option for pain management that acts similar to acupuncture without the needles.
Birthing with Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy is another name for water immersion where women will labor in tubs or Jacuzzis filled with warm water. You can also safely deliver your baby in the tub (which is known as a water birth). Warm water helps release tension and can keep you relaxed.
Some studies suggest that water immersion during the first stage of labor may be associated with a shorter labor and decreased use of epidurals. This type of pain management is not typically available for those who have a baby that needs constant monitoring.
First and foremost, it’s important to consult your care provider for guidance on what birthing location is best and safest for you. If you are at higher risk of complications, it’s important to make sure you have the resources to
combat any issues that may arise.
Postpartum Must Haves
Embrace Newborn Carrier is the sweetest way to stay connected to your newborn while you discover your new life together. Available in two fabric ways, Ponte Knit and Soft Air Mesh, this newborn carrier gives you the softness of a wrap with the structured support and simplicity of a baby carrier. That means comfort for you, comfort for baby, and comfort to embrace all the moments you’ll be sharing with your newborn.
Our Grey nursing pillow is supple but firm, so you’re not slouching too much. When you’re nursing 12x a day, you’ll notice the difference. Most moms use a nursing pillow for added support while breastfeeding. But a nursing pillow is multifunctional. You can also use one for extra support while bottle feeding and to help prop your baby up during tummy time.
Give your baby longer, more peaceful sleep with our sleep swaddler, and you’ll sleep easier too. Swaddler wings are carefully designed to prevent breakouts, you can easily keep baby swaddler during diaper changes and the 100% cotton is perfect for baby’s sensitive skin.