Birth trauma is real. People often come out of their birth disappointed, feeling like things were done without their consent, and while that definitely does happen today I want to give my three best tips to prevent birth trauma in your own birth!
But first, how do I know all of this? Hi — I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 Besides delivering thousands of babies, I’ve also had three of my own and I know how important mindset is in your delivery. I can’t wait to share these tips with you.
Please join me in my Free Beginning Prenatal Class — it’s your first step towards being your own birth boss!
Ways to Prevent Birth Trauma
I want to first stress that like any serious medical event, there may be some trauma that does happen with birth. If you have emergency surgery, or a life-threatening event it is sure to create anxiety and ptsd-type symptoms.
I also want to be clear that I believe birth trauma is real, and I do think people may need therapy to move on in a positive way after hard birth experiences. That being said, I frequently see birth trauma that could have easily been prevented in a few ways.
Take a Prenatal Class
Taking a prenatal class is paramount in your efforts to prevent birth trauma.
Why? Well, let me give you five ways that a prenatal class can help you have a satisfying birth:
It helps you know what to expect — knowing what is likely to happen is a BIG plus in something that seems so unpredictable (but really isn’t that unpredictable to birth professionals)
Example: Admitting can seem really intimidating right off at the hospital. Understanding what it’s for and what is going to happen during that makes it seem really normal (rather than like a marathon of questions).
It helps give you the words to communicate with your birth team — it can be intimidating to communicate with your doctor, but if you understand what some of the words they use mean (or why they use them) you can use your words to get your thoughts across too!
Example: Understanding what doctors REALLY mean when they say they’re going to do xyz (they mean that’s what they recommend, but sometimes they over-speak), allows you to know that you can always choose a different path (and you’ll know how to get the information you need to make that choice).
It helps you speak the language of labor — there are new words that you won’t use in your everyday life. When you know what those words mean, you’re LIGHTYEARS ahead (and everything seems less intimidating)
Example: There are just so many words that are just not used in regular life. Things like catheter, infusion, saline and things like that. A good class explains all of that.
It makes you aware of interventions that might happen — knowing what we often do when things look less-than-perfect will help you know that it’s not an emergency — it’s what normally happens.
Example: It’s normal for several of the staff to come in if baby doesn’t look great on the monitor (which isn’t rare). They will perform interventions that will hopefully help the baby. Having a horde of nurses coming in can be intimidating!
It normalizes things that don’t seem normal — if you don’t work in labor and delivery, a lot of the things feel very uncomfortable. When you know what all of them mean it really makes you feel so much more at ease.
Example: The fear of breaking your water on a nice clean bed can be nervous for people, but the hospital is already prepared for that with absorbable linens already underneath you!
I recommend The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. It can be done in just a few hours, and is created by a top birth professional who can really prepare you to know what to expect in both good and bad cases.
Have an Open Mind
Having a very SPECIFIC birth in mind can often lead you to disappointments.
I 100% think that patients should come up with birth preferences, and things that they hope to have happen if that is an option. But, your body, your baby or Mother Nature just sometimes doesn’t back that plan.
Talk With Your Birth Team
Just like in everything, communication is key. Keeping an open line of communication is important.
One of the MOST important things is that YOU think that how YOU think is how EVERYONE thinks. But that’s not true.
Some people want to hear every single step of us placing an IV. And some people want to hear NONE of it, and just want to pretend it’s not happening. And we don’t know which one of those you are. The more you can tell us what helps you the most, the better we can help you.
I would also remind you of the old saying that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Please be kind to the staff when you ask for things. They very much understand that it is stressful and you are in pain, but the more you can be kind when you ask the better the situation will be for both parties.
Honestly, these three things can really make any birth better. But, I have one last thing to recommend.
Have a provider that you trust. If you don’t like your doctor/midwife and you’re less than 30 weeks, I’d encourage you to see one that you do seem to “mesh” better with. And, if that’s not possible just brush up on your communication skills. Between kindness and being specific I know it will REALLY help.
Finally, I can’t stay strongly enough that you should take a prenatal class. The Online Prenatal Class for Couples with its 14-day Guarantee is just sitting there waiting for you. But, if you think that’s not the class for you, please do find a class you think you’ll love!
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice. She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.
As an evidence-based prenatal educator Hilary has delivered thousands of babies and has educated hundreds of thousands of parents from a diverse patient population to help them have a confident birth.