It is all about informing yourself and knowing your choices and options so that you can approach birth feeling prepared and confident. Informing yourself also means that your decisions are based on true facts and evidence, rather than hospital policies or worst, fear.
Have a plan A, and B, and maybe C and D too. It’s not a bad idea for example to plan for what you would like if you were to have a Caesarean birth, so that you can have the discussion with your healthcare providers in advance and set realistic expectations about what is possible in your local hospital. Some women like the idea of a gentle Caesarean birth for example which many hospitals can accommodate in some ways (more information about this on the blog).
Document your preferences in your birth plan (for Plan A, B, C and D) so that you can easily refer to them if you need to. The birth room is not the place for in-depth research and evaluation as what that will do is activate the conscious part of your brain and take you away from your birth zone. If you have your preferences for various scenarios documented however, you can focus on the birth that you want and staying relaxed, reassured that you are prepared to navigate the surprises that may arise. Of course we know that birth is unpredictable and you can’t plan for every eventuality, but it is helpful to know that the things that matter most to you are accounted for, such as immediate skin-to-skin after birth which is something that can be accommodated in most cases.
Making a birth plan is also a useful exercise for fully exploring your options and what you do want for your birth experience. Discuss it with your partner so that you are on the same page before the discussion with your health providers.
Finally, here are four great sources of balanced information about pregnancy and birth to help you make informed decisions that are right for you:
AIMS books. There is one on most topics.
A Positive Birth Movement meet-up near you