Mar 25, 2013 -
Ever since your home pregnancy test came back positive, you’ve been planning and plotting. But as your baby becomes more of a reality, what are the things left on your to-do list? Assemble a crib? Pick out some adorable clothes? But maybe most importantly, take some time to get to know what to expect when you give birth. Educate yourself about your options for when you give birth, and consider hiring a doula. A birth doula is "a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth" (Klaus et al). If you decide to use a doula, you can ask at your chosen birth place about hiring one or seek one privately.
Schedule a tour of potential facilities
You probably either know what you want in a birth facility or are sure you’ll know it when you see it. So the next step is to grab your partner, a friend, your mom or even just pop over by yourself to see what to expect on the big day.
Birthing centers have changed a lot in the last few decades. More hospitals are opting to have baby room in with Mom, for more bonding with baby. So chances are, you won’t see a big nursery full of babies.
As you walk through, take the time to ask questions: Where will labor and delivery happen? Some hospitals have labor and delivery in one area with postpartum rooms for mom and baby, while some facilities have one room for everything. Is there continuous monitoring or can you can move around during labor? Some facilities encourage laboring mothers to get up and move around, with monitors attached only periodically, while others require that the mother stay in the bed and remain hooked up to monitors throughout labor. Does the facility offer water births? What pain relief options are available? Make sure you ask all your questions (bringing a written list along can help you remember) so you can choose your facility carefully.
Choose your caregiver
Some people will tell you to choose an OB/GYN or certified nurse midwife first, but if you have your heart set on a particular place to give birth, you may find out that your chosen provider does not have privileges to deliver there. Choose where you plan to give birth, then look into a caregiver who is affiliated with that facility.
Make it a classy affair
You can prepare both physically and mentally for childbirth. Prenatal exercise classes will keep you healthier in general and can help increase your energy and physical endurance for what can be an exhausting process. Childbirth classes will teach you essentials such as stages of labor, relaxation and breathing techniques, comfort measures, positioning for labor, partner’s role, pain relief, anesthesia, Cesarean birth, postpartum adjustment, basic breastfeeding and newborn care. Breastfeeding preparation classes explain the advantages of nursing, breastfeeding techniques and positions, breast milk expression and storage, ways to prevent common problems, handling the first few weeks at home and more.
Think through your birthing plan
After the tour, classes, and talking with your caregiver, you probably have enough information to draft a birth plan. In fact, you likely will have learned about things on the tour and in your classes that you can now include. Remember, a birth plan doesn’t have to be complicated—just one page that lays out what your preferences are on the day you give birth. Consider things like how you will manage pain, when you want to go to the hospital, who you want in the room, water birth, doulas and more.
It’s important to take the time to get your wishes down and make sure you are on the same page with whomever will help you through the birthing process. Once you have a draft you like, make sure you provide a copy to people who will be important during your labor and childbirth.
Ask what additional services the hospital has
You may be pleasantly surprised as to the options available to you after baby arrives. Some hospitals have visiting nurses, doulas, lactation consultants, mom’s groups and more. Ask now and keep a running list, because when you get home with a new baby, these resources will become extremely valuable.
The ECHN Preferred Doula and Mentor/Doula Program
ECHN is proud to offer expectant mothers access to doulas through our Family Birthing Center. Our Preferred Doula Program provides doula services to women who want or need additional support during their pregnancy, birth and postpartum period. Interested women will be matched with specially trained, experienced and certified birth doulas.
The ECHN Mentor/Doula
Program was created in 2003 through a grant from The March of Dimes to provide a nurturing ongoing service for pregnant women with maternal/fetal conditions that require specialized care. Eligible women must be planning to give birth at Manchester Memorial Hospital. This service is provided free of charge to those who qualify.
ECHN’s Family Birthing Center
The Family Birthing Center at Manchester Memorial Hospital features a maternity unit designed with families in mind. Plan a visit to see our facility and learn about perks like:
- Labor, birth, and aftercare in the same room
- A commitment to offering safe and effective pain-relief alternatives and coping tools such as birth balls, water births, showers and squat bars
- Special “spa rooms” for water births and water therapy during labor
- A ratio of one nurse to each laboring mother
- A commitment to allowing women to try for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), with an 84-89% VBAC success rate
- A hospital where being continuously tethered to a monitor is the exception, not the rule
- Our special doula programs
- A Level II NICU with a staff of neonatologists, physician assistants and neonatal nurses
- Seven-days-a-week lactation support from board-certified lactation consultants for nursing moms
We also offer postpartum support to moms and their partners via continuing lactation support, newborn and infant massage classes, mother/baby exercise classes, classes on coordinating breastfeeding with returning to work or school, a “new moms” social group, a new-parent “warmline” and more.
We are committed to doing all we can to make the birth of your child a joyful, memorable and safe experience. We offer you as many choices and as much flexibility as possible in your care. Our experienced, caring staff explains and respects your options before, during and after the birth of your child.
For more information and to schedule an interview with a doula, call Betsy Crayton, Perinatal Education Coordinator 860.647.4790
Klaus MH, Kennell JH, Klaus PH. The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier, and Healthier Birth
, Third Edition. Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2012.
Childbirth Education Programs. Eastern Connecticut Health Network.
Accessed March 28, 2013. http://www.echn.org/Files/Interior/Childbirth2013web.aspx
Doula Programs. Eastern Connecticut Health Network
. Accessed March 22, 2013. echn.org/Service-Directory/Women-s-Health-Services-of-Eastern-Connecticut/Maternity/Doula-Programs.aspx
Maternity. Eastern Connecticut Health Network.
Accessed March 22, 2013. echn.org/Service-Directory/Women-s-Health-Services-of-Eastern-Connecticut/Maternity.aspx
"After 4 Years of Labor, MMH new maternity unit is born." Journal Inquirer, 28 July 2003: Online. Accessed March 22, 2013. http://www.sbmfoundation.org/sbm-charitable.php?page=07282003
“Creating Your Birth Plan.” American Pregnancy Association
. Accessed Marcy 22, 2013. http://americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/birthplan.htm