How to Prepare for Childbirth

Women's bodies undergo changes before childbirth to prepare them for extreme pain. See more pregnancy pictures.
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Our attitudes toward pregnancy and childbirth form over a lifetime, shaped in part by the values and beliefs of our families and our culture. The way in which we assist a baby's entry into the world reflects not only personal and family beliefs but also the prevailing cultural attitudes.

Since the turn of the century, the birthing process has undergone continuous change. When you talk to your mother and grandmother about childbearing practices during the years they were having children, they probably won't tell you it was wonderful "in the good old days." Most people believe that childbirth today is managed much better than it was one or two generations ago.

In this article, you will learn about the options available to you for childbirth so that you can make informed decisions about what's best for you and your baby. The following sections will help you not only choose the childbirth setting that's right for you, but also prepare for the upcoming event. You will learn about:

  • History of Birthing Methods Childbirth has come a long way over the years, and some of the fears and misconceptions you have about delivering a baby may no longer be relevant. On this page, we will discuss the history of childbirth and some of the ways the procedure has changed for the better.
  • How to Choose a Childbirth Doctor Choosing a doctor to help you have a baby is not as easy as it sounds. For starters, there are many different doctors with different specialties to choose from. On this page, we will help you tell the difference between a perinatologist, an obstetrician, and an osteopathic physician. We will also show you how to find a good recommendation for a doctor and how to check their qualifications.
  • How to Choose a Midwife Some women choose not to use a traditional doctor, but instead use the services of a midwife. Midwives, however, can be every bit as experienced and trained as their medical counterparts. Midwives, just like doctors, must be certified and licensed. On this page, we will tell you the various types of midwives and help you decide which one would be best for you. We will also show you where you can find a midwife.
  • Questions to Ask Before Birth Regardless of which caregiver you choose, a doctor or a midwife, you will still have to find the right specialist for you and your family. Naturally, this will require you to do a certain amount of interviewing, which might make you uncomfortable. Many new parents might not even know what types of questions they should ask a prospective midwife or doctor. In this section, we will show you the areas you should concentrate on when questioning a potential caregiver.
  • Giving Birth in a Hospital The overwhelming majority of new parents choose to deliver their baby in a hospital, but not all hospitals will be right for all parents. In this section, we will show you what you should look for when choosing a hospital, what special considerations you might be interested in, and what sort of environment you might require while giving birth.
  • Out-of-Hospital Births A growing minority of women is electing to give birth outside of a hospital in their homes or a licensed birthing center. Naturally, there are some considerable risks to delivering a baby outside of a healthcare facility, but it will mean that the parents will have more control over what happens during the labor and delivery. On this page, we will show you all the pros and cons of an out-of-hospital delivery and what conditions will mandate a transfer to a hospital.
  • Childbirth Classes Childbirth classes can help prepare you for the eventual birth and offer you tips and techniques for coping with the pain and stress of a delivery. A well-known example of one of these techniques is the Lamaze method. On this page, we will describe the various childbirth classes and help you choose the one that's right for you.
  • How to Create a Birth Plan A birth plan is set of instructions prepared in advance for the medical professionals who will help you through the delivery process. This step is a critical factor in making sure that your wishes are carried out on your delivery day. Find out how to write the best birth plan possible.

Deciding where to give birth is one of the most important decisions you will make during your pregnancy. Go to the next page to start learning about the experiences of other women giving birth.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.