So, you're having a baby!

This is by far one of the most exciting, overwhelming and life changing times of your life. You've scoured through websites and profiles, I'm sure your Pinterest board is full and you've watched all kinds of videos on socials about what pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood is. But a narrative that's been missing for a long time from most of these posts, is how empowering birth can be.

We've seen it all on tv. The sweaty, screaming mom. She's in a hospital bed, yelling at her husband and he's just standing there aloof. The mom screams for a minute or two, and then theres a crying baby placed in her arms. Imagine, for decades that was the only insight we had into birth! I know, before I had my first daughter, I was TERRIFIED. Birth was gross. Birth was painful. Birth was something that had to happen but no one ever really felt good about it.

Imagine my surprise when I had my firstborn daughter -and even though things went WAY off course (induction, days of labour, failed epidural, dural puncture, forcep delivery, etc etc etc) I was riding this incredible high. I was so empowered. I just did that. I just brought this tiny, beautiful human into this world.

I was so strong. I was so brave. I was heard and respected and it was beautiful. Isn't knowing that part of the story so helpful in guiding us to having more empowered births?! If we can get rid of the fear based, inaccurate depiction of birth we've been fed for decades, maybe, just maybe, we can actually begin to feel powerful and brave heading into our delivery.

Here's a few things you can do to help you have the most empowered birthing experience possible.

Pick a provider that meets your needs.

You've found out you're pregnant, there are many options depending where you live to support you through your pregnancy and delivery. You can have an OB, family doctor (im some cases), or a midwife follow you. You also have the option of some wonderful doulas who will act as a support and advocate for you alongside your care provider.

Research who is available in your area. You can self refer to the midwives, and typically they fill up fast, so I always encourage others to apply as soon as they know they're pregnant.

There are tons of amazing OB's in the area, and will support you through your low or high risk pregnancy's.

Search local doulas, do some interviews. Find someone who will support your labour and delivery goals!

What's your vision? Bring it to life!

What do you visualize when you think of your delivery day? Are you at home? Hospital? Is it just you and your partner? Are you labouring on the bed? In a tub? On all fours? How are the lights? Are they low? Is it quiet? How about Music?

Write out a list of what your ideal birthing environment looks like. Then discuss this with your care team and your support people prior to your delivery day to help make it all happen.

If you're birthing at home, you can set up the room exactly how you want, but the hospital offers lots of options too. Bring fairy lights, bring speakers to play music, etc. They offer exercise and peanut balls, sometimes, theres a tub available for you to use! Get familiar with your birthing setting and make it your own!

Who do YOU want in the room?

This is a big one. So many times I hear moms talk about how they have to invite their mother, or MIL or sister etc into the room but they really just want themselves and their partner.

Today is your day. In the throws of labour, I promise you won't be feeling guilty your aunt Susan isn't there to watch you go through this experience.

What you might regret? Worrying about making others comfortable when your comfort is the main priority.

Learn about pain management options available.

There are so many pain management options available to you while you labour. Some fairly standard options are..

In a hospital you have the added options of an Epidural, which can be a highly effective approach to pain management during labour. A catheter is inserted into your lower back, and medication flows through it.

Many hospitals also offer the option of using Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) to help offer a sense of calmness, and to lessen anxiety, often helping pain to subside.

Your partner or doula can offer counter pressure techniques where they apply pressure to your hips/ back and help provide counter pressure through contractions.

Your midwife or Doula (Or you can purchase yourself) often carries a TENS machine, this is often attached to your lower back and small electrical impulses are delivered to that specific area - this can reduce the pain signals going to your brain.

You can try labouring in different positions, as well as in a birthing tub or hot shower to provide relief during the labour ( and with midwives, if you're given the all clear, you can often times deliver in the tub as well).

Learn about birthing positions.

When you think childbirth, what do you visualize? It's most often a woman laying on her back in a hospital bed. Did you know, while that's most often represented in the media, it can be one of the least natural ways to deliver a baby?

Learning about the different ways you can deliver can help you feel empowered to birth in a way that feels right to you. Some common options are:

Squatting position (either on a birthing stool, or freely)


On hands and knees

Side lying

leaned forward (on side of the bed, or in birthing tub)

Flat on your back

Reclined position in bed

You might want to try multiple positions before you find what works best for you, but trust your body and listen to it, even if it's telling you to try something you haven't seen represented much in common media.

Educate yourself.

This is so important. Learn about birth, learn about what to expect and different things that can happen. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the more confident you will feel.

Ina May's guide to childbirth is a great read. Birthing from within is another good read.

Watch videos. I refused to watch videos before my first daughters birth because I was terrified of what I might see. After I had her, I watched multiples, and thought how much less scared I would've been if I saw that it wasn't nearly as scary as I had decided in my head.

There are also so many podcasts, social media accounts, books, classes and online resources that will help you to feel educate and knowledgable.

Create a birth plan/goals.

I distinctly remember saying to my husband "why would I create a birth plan.. birth is so unpredictable. It's not like I can plan it" before my first daughter. How I wish I would've written out my goals/wants onto paper to help me make decisions that were unique to my own desires while in the moment.

Maybe you really want delayed cord clamping? Do you prefer immediate skin to skin? Does your husband want to cut the cord? Do you have any preference in pain management techniques?

When you're in the midst of labour, you might not remember or be able to communicate all of the things you knew you'd like to have happen!

Know your options

One of the reasons I truly loved my experience with my midwives so much was their informed choice approach to pregnancy and birth.

Learn what options and decisions you have. Can I labour at home after my water breaks? For how long?

Can you have delayed cord clamping?

Can you nurse baby before they worry about weighing and measuring?

Can we do skin to skin immediately after delivery?

What about episiotomies?

There are so many different aspects of delivery that have a common practice, but also many other safe practices and if you feel like something would make more sense for you and your family than what is commonly done, look it up and discuss it before labour time with your provider!