Informed Empowered Birth
Updated: Apr 13, 2022
My first birth didn’t go as planned. It felt so strange to be walking into the hospital to meet our baby without ever having felt a single contraction. My water had broken at 39 weeks. We had waited 24 hours to see if contractions would begin – meanwhile trying the things we had learned could naturally encourage labor to start. We had a birth plan, and it was for a natural, unmedicated birth. I was open to intervention if it became truly necessary for my health or the baby’s health, but otherwise, I wanted to let my body do the work on its own. Induction was certainly not in my plan.
Although I wasn’t thrilled to be going in for an induction, I felt at peace. Thanks to the quality, independent birth classes we had taken, we knew the questions to ask, knew our options, and were able to make informed decisions and advocate for our preferences. Because of the knowledge and skills we had gained, we were able to navigate this variation – advocating to wean off Pitocin once contractions were in a good, strong pattern and then proceeding with a beautiful natural birth.
It could have gone so differently, and looking back now at all four of my births – there were so many instances where, without the knowledge we gained in those independent birth classes, things could have taken a very different path. Through premature rupture, a breech baby, and a days-long labor we were able to experience four natural births. That being said, even if our births had unfolded differently, I am confident we still could have felt at peace – knowing that we had asked the questions, explored options, and made truly informed decisions along the way.
Informed, empowered, and beautiful births are what I want for all families – this is why I got certified as a birth educator and the reason I continue my education to provide the best support possible for my clients. From the data I collect, I know the families who take our classes are half as likely to have a cesarean as the general population in our area, a rate that falls in line with what the World Health Organization says the cesarean rate should be if cesareans were only performed when truly necessary. Most of the families who take our classes and intend to have a natural, unmedicated birth go on to do just that. And for those families whose births unfolded differently than they had planned, many share that they still felt more at peace with the path their birth took because they knew exactly what was happening and could ask the right questions to give true informed consent.
If you are expecting, consider a birth class that is independent of the hospital. Find a quality class that will equip you with knowledge and skills to help you move outside the routine and into evidence-based care and help you experience an informed and empowered birth.
~Lacy Knipper, M.Ed., Certified Childbirth Educator, Certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor