to studies cited by PATTCh, an organization dedicated to the
Prevention and Treatment of Traumatic Childbirth (,
25 to 34 per cent of women report that their births were traumatic.
comes to the path of childbirth with different values, needs, and
desires.  There are no two pregnant women alike.  As
radically different as “ideal” birth dreams are from woman
to woman, most agree that the experience of birth matters to them.
what if birth goes differently from what you had hoped? 
a doula and childbirth educator for over 22 years, I have seen some
of the hopes and dreams women nurture during pregnancy dashed
violently against the rocks of surprise.
are five ways to approach your birth day that will decrease the
possibility of not only disappointment, but of avoidable trauma.
 They will also potentially increase your chances of
feeling like a rock star about your birth.
Have Realistic Expectations
hearing women recount their birth stories, it is apparent that many
believe a labour that lasted 18 to 24 hours was long.  In fact,
24 hours is normal for a first birth experience.
will serve you better to expect your labour to be on the longer and
harder side.  This will inspire you to mobilize some techniques
to help you pace yourself.  Patience is a key element in coping
with labour. 
your expectations meet the reality of a normal labour, you will not
react with fear or concern.  You will be more prone to remain
relaxed, which actually helps you to labour more efficiently.  It
tends to be psychologically easier on women to discover they are more
advanced in their labour than they thought (providing they are in an
environment that feels safe to them). 
you expect your body will open according to a formula that can be
dictated by an app, believing that times of contractions go according
to a dependable curve and can predict how close to full dilation and
delivery you are, you could potentially a) think you are WAY farther
along than you actually are, which is mojo crushing news to hear when
labour is intense, or b) birth in the car.
clock or an app can never tell you when your baby will arrive. You
will very likely know when it is time to take labour seriously
because your body will tell you.
Prepare for the Unexpected
is a good idea to have some solid coping skills under your belt in
order to meet whatever labour throws at you with confidence.
may not end up with the natural birth you’d hoped for. You could give
birth too quickly to get that epidural you wanted.  Or, you
unfortunately find your epidural doesn’t work quite the way you
thought it would. You may not have read the chapter in your birth
books on Cesarean, end up needing one, and experience more anxiety
than necessary because you didn’t have an idea of what to expect.  
good, unbiased, evidence-based prenatal classes that respect personal
choice and furnish you with simple labour coping techniques.  Know
your options at your place of birth (including for your contingency
plans), because without clearly understanding what is available to
you and what your rights are, your options are limited.
it all up to chance with an “it will be what it will be, the
experts will decide everything” attitude can deny you the
opportunity to truly own your experience.  I have found this
approach to have a higher likelihood of leading to disappointment and
your breathing and relaxation, which can be applied to any birth
situation, expected or not.  Ensure your birth partner knows
some good massage techniques to help with comfort.  Be open to
everything and attached to nothing. Stay centred.  
Find Your Centre
the end of the day, no matter how you end up at the big moment of
delivery, it is often the baby who decides how they need to come into
the world.  
can indeed influence the quality of your birth experience with good
diet, good prenatal care, good prenatal education, and a positive
attitude which affirms that the normal birth process generally works
magnificently.  But you cannot control the outcome.  It is
ultimately a mystery.
you can do, is practice having some mastery over your responses to
what is going on inside you and around you.  You can start now.
 When something hurts or gets on your nerves, take a deep breath
and repeat to yourself “Nothing can disturb my peace,”
until you actually feel anchored to the changeless peace that rests
beneath every experience.  Think of it like being the whole
ocean instead of just the waves.
way, you learn to discern that whatever is going on in your field of
experience is just one small part of any given moment, and it too
shall pass.  Being centred helps you to refrain from jumping
down the rabbit hole of  fear and tension in response to the
challenges labour provides. This will serve you as you work through
the sensations of your birth experience, as well as in difficult
parenting moments.
ability to access this centre is the greatest tool to have when
contractions start coming on strong, or waves of anxiety threaten to
crash in on the day of your planned C-section. 
centred doesn’t mean you will behave with Zen like calm.  It
just means that while you’re coping with labour in whatever way you
do (yelling being a perfectly valid way), you feel connected to a
source of inner strength and self-trust.
Trust Yourself
witnessed hundreds of births, I can tell you that in pregnancy,
birth, and motherhood, women often develop uncanny intuition when it
comes to their bodies and their babies. They may doubt it, as
intuition is not something we as a culture have a lot of practice
validating within ourselves, but it is there nonetheless. 
a young pregnant woman, I was amazed at how intuitive I felt about my
needs for birth. I am glad I trusted them, as I sense my birth
experiences would have turned out differently had I not.
a mother of four, I rely a lot on my gut when it comes to making
parenting decisions, and you will too
you and your baby are a symbiotic unit, it isn’t a stretch of the
imagination to realize there is a deep connection between the two of
you, and can lend to your having insider information about what is
best for your situation.
Get Support
the people you have on your birth team know what you want, what your
greatest concerns are, and are prepared to stand by your wishes
whenever possible.  They should take time to address your
questions and concerns, listen to you, explain your options, and
support your choices. 
Cochrane Review, a well known medical journal states: “Continuous
support in labour increased the chance of a spontaneous vaginal
birth….and women were more satisfied.”  
can come in the form of a friend, a family member, or a professional
doula who is trained and experienced in providing information,
comfort measures, and empathetic guidance to women and their partners
throughout labour and delivery.  

felt supported, heard, understood, loved, and upheld as active
participants in their decision making process wherever possible is
what women report helped them feel good about their birth
experiences…even if they didn’t go as expected.

the day your little bundle of joy arrives, it is my greatest hope
that you feel like a rock star…no matter what!  Because your
birth experience truly matters.