I often say to expectant parents that how labor and birth unfolds is based on the rule of 25% -- 25% preparation, 25% labor support, 25% choice of care provider and place of birth, and 25% good ole' fashioned luck. The good news is that, most of the time, 75%* of how your birth unfolds is within your control (*this is not a scientific method, simply an estimate)! The challenging part of this rule is that sometimes, the luck factor can significantly impact the course of your labor and birth. But for today, let's address what you do have control over. I'm going to share with you five proven steps you can take to reduce your risk of interventions in labor and birth.
5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of Interventions in Birth
1. Know the risks, benefits, and alternatives to common labor and birth interventions. One of the best preventative measures you can take is to become more informed. Knowing the ins and outs of an epidural, for example, will help you make a more educated decision about choosing it for labor pain relief. It's important to know not just the risks and benefits, but the alternatives -- and in most cases, there are lower risk alternatives!
2. Take a childbirth class. What's the best way to achieve #1? Take a good childbirth class! A comprehensive childbirth class will review interventions and alternatives to interventions in depth, as well as a host of other pertinent details and tips to have a safe and healthy labor, birth, and postpartum period.
3. Know your care provider and place of birth. Of course you know your doctor/midwife, but how well do you really know them? In other words, do you know how often they use interventions and why? If you haven't already, begin the conversation now (or at your next prenatal appointment) to find out what your risk of having interventions (epidural, IV fluids, induction, episiotomy, cesarean) while in the care of the providers at your practice. Here's a great set of questions.
4. Hire a doula. The use of a doula has been proven to reduce the risk of interventions and shorten the length of labor. There are no known risks to hiring a doula! Search online for doulas in your community and set up interviews to see who will be the best fit. It's almost never too late to hire a doula, though it is advisable to start searching in your second trimester.
5. Avoid interventions to avoid more interventions. Usually, one intervention is linked with several more. Again, this is where #1 on the list comes into play. Know your options, know the alternatives. Avoiding one intervention may help you avoid several more!