You’ve chosen a care provider (doctor, midwife, nurse midwife) that you feel comfortable with for prenatal, labor, and delivery care. That’s a great first step. Now it’s time to begin thinking who else you need or want on your side. Build a birth team that supports you in many other ways so you’re comfortable and healthy as you grow baby, bring her into your world, and adjust to life with a newborn.
Who do you need to support you?
From good friend to craniosacral therapist, each one supports an aspect of your pregnancy that prenatal appointments don’t cover.
- Prenatal yoga teacher – Helps you stay stretched out and strong as your body changes. Prenatal yoga teaches you to breathe—a labor technique you’ll use to help reduce labor pain or help you work with contractions. Yoga also helps
- Improve sleep
- Reduce stress
- Increase strength, flexibility and endurance
- Decrease lower back pain
- Decrease nausea
- Decrease carpal tunnel syndrome
- Decrease headaches
- Reduce risk of preterm labor
- Lower risk of intrauterine growth restriction (condition that slows the baby’s growth)
- Reduce hypertension-related complications
- Improve fetal outcomes
- Nutritionist or Naturopath – Helps you choose supplements and foods to enhance your health, digestion, stress, endurance, or sleep as baby takes up more and more of your body’s resources and space.
- Bodyworker – As the months go by and your body shifts to make room for baby’s increasing size and weight, it can cause an assortment of aches and pains. Bodywork (massage, chiropractic, osteopathic adjustments, acupuncture) can help re-align your skeleton, ease muscle tension, and enhance circulation that helps with relaxation, inflammation, and energy level.
- Friends – Whether they take walks with you or lend a listening ear, friends can make all the difference in how you feel and your stress level during pregnancy. Pregnancy offers a new world of friends to you as you participate in activities that relate to prenatal topics or postpartum solutions.
- Doula – Years of research has shown that having a doula helps labor and delivery with significant reductions in
- cesarean births
- instrumental vaginal births
- need for oxytocin augmentation
- shortened durations of labor
- higher newborn Apgar scores (greater than 7)
- overall higher satisfaction by mothers with the birthing process
Most of us focus on labor and delivery when we think about birth, forgetting that after L&D comes parenting. And newborn issues. And other children. And sleep. Or taking a shower.
No matter if you’re a first time or a fifth time mom, you need to recover and heal from birth while integrating a brand new person into the family—a person who sleeps weird hours, needs frequent feedings, poops and pees on an Olympic scale, and who may not yet be comfortable in their own body.
Multiply all this by 10X if you have other children, a complicated household, or significant healing to do from the birth.
Thinking ahead during pregnancy to post-pregnancy will help you form a postpartum team.
You can write a postpartum [birth] plan to help you think ahead and arrange for help and support.
- Postpartum doula – Many families don’t know such an important person exists. Postpartum doulas help families integrate their new member by
- “Mothering the mother” and taking care of things that make her more comfortable
- Supporting breastfeeding
- Giving evidence-based information to increase confidence in both parents
- Nurturing the entire family
- Helping with emotional and physical recovery after birth
- Doing light housekeeping so mom does not feel so overwhelmed
- Running errands
- Assisting with newborn care such as diapering, bathing, feeding and comforting
- Doing light meal preparation
- Showing baby soothing techniques
- Helping with sibling care
- Giving referrals to local resources such as parenting classes, pediatricians, lactation support and support groups
You can hire a postpartum doula to come during the day or stay overnight for the first few weeks after birth. Decide with her how often she comes and how long she stays, as well as how long after birth you need her services. Many families hire a postpartum doula for the first two weeks.
- Friends/family – They can be lifesavers, if they are the people you’re comfortable with. When these people are familiar to your other children and/or your pets, they more easily slip into the roles you need them to fill. They can
- Bring easily heated and served meals
- Do light cleaning or laundry
- Babysit older children or take them out of the house
- Walk the dog, feed the cat, bring crickets for the lizard —or even take pets home with them for a couple of days while you settle in
- Run errands
- Rub your feet while you chat and decompress
- Bring magazines, movies, or newspapers to entertain you
Your birth team can be assembled as you write your birth plan with your preferences (like having a doula). Some people on the team are mentioned in the birth plan and some become part of your team more organically as they offer support and help.
Whether they are listed on the final version of your birth plan that’s included on your hospital bag checklist, or they’re just the angels who appear at your door, everyone that helps you succeed and recover is a gift.
To learn more about pregnancy tips, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: March 2, 2018 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: March, 2018