Feel Good Birthing and Pregnancy Tips From a Jewish Doula
Nowadays, you have complete power and control over the pregnancy and birth experience that you desire.
I teach prenatal yoga classes and work with doula clients, and I see such a wide variety of choices. Some want to do a home birth, and others want to have a C-section. Some women choose to do prenatal yoga, while others do light walking every day. Some hire only midwives, and others swear by doctors.
The goal for your pregnancy and birth is to focus on what you really want, get informed, and find a support system. Of course, it is ultimately God’s plan, but if we have tools and knowledge on our side, we will be able to deal with whatever comes our way. Informed consent means that it is really up to you, and not even doctors can make a decision for you under the law.
If you come in with no plan and no knowledge, nurses and doctors in the hospital will fall back on their medical model of prevention. Once you are at a hospital you are on the clock, and if things do not progress they may rush birth by breaking water or even suggesting a C-section.
If you’re pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, all you have to do is plan. Know what you want ahead of time, and don’t feel guilty about your choices. They are extremely personal and up to every woman to decide for herself.
The following are five tips for planning a pregnancy and birth you’ll feel good about.
- Start your prenatal care as soon as you find out you are pregnant. It is vital to have proper nutrition, stay active, and listen to your body when you need rest.
- When you’re pregnant with your first baby, you are so excited that you absorb as much information as you can. Surround yourself with people that you trust, and tell other people that your doctor told you not to listen to any stories.
- Once you already have children, it is important to focus on the current pregnancy and make time to take care of yourself. Treat yourself to a prenatal massage, acupuncture, and yoga to feel your best while you juggle a family and pregnancy.
- Pay attention to what your body wants to eat, but also think of balance. I remember my own cravings at the end of my pregnancy. All I wanted was meat. But luckily, I also loved fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Protein is essential to a healthy mom and baby; add it into your snacks and meals throughout the day. A few great choices are fish, chicken, and red meat.
- Prenatal yoga, swimming, and walking are the best exercises for pregnancy. If you already have a workout regimen that your doctor says you can continue, do not start anything new or vigorous until six weeks after you have the baby.
Now, you can start to plan how you want to give birth.
Determining how to give birth
I just experienced my first home birth as a doula. When the midwife stepped out for a minute, I caught the baby!
What I loved the most about the experience was that the mother completely trusted her body and her team. The midwifery model is called watchful waiting; there is no timeframe and no rush. The midwife is similar to a doctor and she has all of the tools necessary for a safe and hygienic birth. In my experience, the midwife even administered medication because the mother was Group B streptococcus (GBS) positive.
I personally prefer laboring at home and going to the hospital when it feels right. Trust me, you will know.
I highly recommend getting a doula, so you have a professional watching and knowing what to do while you focus on your labor and birth. A doula will help labor progress and use different tools to help manage the contractions, such as massage, a birth ball, and laboring in water. I enjoy encouraging the mom to trust herself and listen to what feels good and does not feel good. Most importantly, I empower her to choose her birth journey.
If you know you definitely want the epidural, stay home until it is challenging to manage the contractions. Then, the active labor will continue even with limited movement.
There are also birth centers that offer a beautiful experience that is a mix of home and hospital. Some places are part of hospitals with rotating doctors, and the doctor is only there to catch the baby. The medical side is there for you if you need it.
There are a variety of methods for labor and birth such as Hypnobirthing and Bradley. Thank God for all of them, because we are all different.
It is important to get informed and then trust the process and your team to have a conscious and positive birth experience.
What I find is the most important aspect of a positive birth experience is the mother trusting what is right for her. As Jewish women, we are very blessed to know Hashem is with us. Some people like to daven for others or use birthing as a way to communicate with Hashem.
My experiences giving birth
My own personal experience was magical, and I am blessed to always trust Hashem 100 percent.
My husband’s sister introduced me to her doctor and doula, who were a perfect fit for me. I just needed to know someone was there so I could trust my gut, breathe, and get through it one contraction at a time.
I definitely did not want an epidural, but my doula told me not to torture myself. That really set me free to be present and go with the flow. I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible and go to the hospital just to birth.
Thank God for good genes and a healthy lifestyle; all three of my three pregnancies were wonderful.
My first was a September baby. It was really hot, and I remember somebody making a list of what to take to the hospital. One of the items was a personal fan. That fan was all ready with batteries and felt wonderful as we headed to the hospital, where I found out I was eight centimeters and my water had broken. I did not want to be asked about any pain, and everyone, including my doctor, just left me alone.
Once it was time to push I had to snap out of my breath zone, which was helping me get through contractions. I needed my doctor and nurses to guide me.
My beautiful eight-pound, 15-ounce baby boy came into the world. I still remember the moment of disbelief how a baby suddenly appeared. It is just a miracle and no science can explain how nothing becomes a perfect something.
I encourage and empower you to birth your way.