Ep 100: How You Can Have A Beautiful Birth

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I can’t believe it – we’ve reached episode 100! When I started this podcast, I didn’t have any goals about downloads or think about how long I would be doing this. It has been such a wonderful journey, and my work and mission have grown so much thanks to this show and all of you. Here’s to many more!

For this special 100th episode, I wanted to share my unique Beautiful Birth Prep Process with all of you. This is the framework that guides all of my work, especially my new and improved version of The Birth Preparation Course.

There are five steps to having a beautiful birth and I will walk through each of them today. I will talk about getting in the right mindset for your pregnancy & birth, preparing for the possibilities, and making birth wishes that really work.

Having a beautiful birth isn’t so much about the how of your labor & birth – it’s about making sure you feel calm, supported, prepared, and ready to advocate for yourself during your pregnancy & birth.

In this Episode, You’ll Learn About:

  • Why I want every pregnant person to prepare for & have the beautiful birth they deserve
  • Why you need to get into the right mindset for your birth and ways you can do that
  • The role your support people will play throughout your pregnancy & birth
  • What you need to do to learn about pregnancy & birth and prepare yourself for the possibilities of what could happen
  • Why educating yourself about what to expect is going to be your best self-advocacy tool
  • What to think about for the “fourth trimester” and how to set yourself up well for the postpartum period
  • How to make birth wishes – not a birth plan – that really work for you and your baby

Links Mentioned in the Episode

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I want this podcast to be more than a one sided conversation. Join me on Instagram where we can connect outside of the show! Through my posts, videos, and stories, you'll get even more helpful tips to ensure you have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. You can find me on Instagram @drnicolerankins. I'll see you there!

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Ep 100: How You Can Have A Beautiful Birth

Nicole: I cannot believe this, but I am at episode number 100. And in this one, I'm sharing exactly what you need to know in order to have a beautiful birth.

Nicole: Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a board certified OB GYN who's been in practice for nearly 15 years. I've had the privilege of helping over 1000 babies into this world, and I'm here to help you be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at drnicolerankins.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it. Hello.

Nicole: Hello. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 100. Thank you. Thank you for being here with me today. I cannot believe that I am at 100 episodes. Now, I have had some rebroadcast in there, so it may look like more in your podcast player, but this is actually the 100th unique episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. It, let me start out the episode by giving a listener, shout out because it really encompasses why I do this work. And the review is from AddieK88, and the title is thank you. And the review says with so much pregnancy and birth information and misinformation swirling out there, Dr. Rankin's fact-based podcast is so soothing and helpful. Thank you. Well, thank you for that kind of review and for the dozens and dozens of other reviews and DMS and social media shout outs that I get that say something similar.

Nicole: I am so incredibly grateful for this platform where I can share evidence-based information about pregnancy and birth. And I've said this before, but when I started this podcast, I had no goals in mind for downloads, or didn't have an idea of how long I was going to do it. I just knew that I was tired of trying to write a blog. I had been trying to write a blog and I knew that I wanted to be a reliable source of pregnancy and birth information, but I could not have imagined how many people that I would be able to serve through this podcast or all of the amazing types of guests that I'd be able to connect with or what doors this podcast would open for me in terms of opportunities to serve pregnant women beyond the podcast. See my deeper purpose behind all of my work, whether it is at the bedside, seeing patients or with the podcast or social media, all of those things, my deeper purpose in my work is to help transform the way that we care for pregnant people women, from a system that is rooted in misogyny, in power, and control, in a lack of consent and racism.

Nicole: I want to help transform that system to one where women are placed at the center of their pregnancy and birth experience, and are always treated with compassion, with dignity and respect. So thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart, for your support with this podcast and helping me to fulfill that deeper purpose in helping me to provide evidence-based and comprehensive information about pregnancy and birth. And just coming along with me on this amazing journey. So what I'm going to do for episode number 100 is share with you my unique framework to help you have a beautiful birth. It is called the beautiful birth prep process, and there are five steps to the beautiful birth prep process. Step one is to set the tone for your birth. Step two is to learn all the details of labor and birth. Step three is to prepare yourself for the possibilities.

Nicole: Step four is to get off to a great start postpartum, and then step five is making birth wishes that work. Now I'm going to go into each of those steps in a bit more detail, but before we get into those steps in the beautiful birth prep process, let me first tell you what a beautiful birth is. So a beautiful birth is one where you feel calm. You feel confident, you feel empowered, you're prepared to use your voice. You're ready to advocate for the birth experience that you want. You feel happy, you feel supported, you feel in control of the things that you can control and ready to navigate that things that you can't control. Now notice in that, I didn't say anything about a beautiful birth being unmedicated or a beautiful birth, meaning you have a short labor or even where you give birth, because although those things are important, those are not the things that ultimately determine whether or not you have a beautiful birth. What determines a beautiful birth experience is really on a deeper level. And so much of it is connected to how you feel throughout your labor and birth. And you're going to understand that more as I go through the steps of the beautiful birth prep process. All right. So step one of the process is to set the tone for your birth before you learn anything about like the details of labor and birth, you need to step back and do a few things to set yourself up for success. And none of these things have anything to do with labor specifically. So number one is you need to make sure you have the right mindset going into your birth. We do not emphasize enough how important mindset is in helping you have a beautiful birth experience.

Nicole: This is really, really important. And some things that you can do to work on your mindset. This doesn't have to be like overly complicated or dramatic. One thing you can do is have a regular meditation practice. If you don't already have a practice, I have a free guide that you can download to help you. It's a drnicolerankins.com/meditate, but meditation is something you can start doing right now to help work on your mindset. Some other things that you can do that are helpful are things like visualizations, affirmations. Maybe you might even need professional help with therapy, if you have issues with depression or anxiety, in order to help strengthen your mindset for when you go into birth. Another important element of setting the tone for your birth is making sure you have the right support. You need people around you who are going to support you and your wishes for your birth.

Nicole: Your support persons also need to be ready to advocate for you, if need be. Now, this is important for every pregnant birthing person, but this is especially important for at risk populations, meaning at risk for being mistreated or disrespected or ignored during birth like black women. It is really important that you have the right support set up for you before you go into your labor and birth. And then finally, an important piece of setting the tone is having the right energy surrounding your birth. And by that, I mean the physical environment of your labor room, we do things like decorate our home, we decorate our office space, because we know that our physical space influences how we feel. So you want to be sure that you've done some things to set yourself up to have the right energy surrounding your birth. Say for example, with lights or dim lights or having a certain type of music played rather, you want to set up that right energy surrounding your birth.

Nicole: Okay. Step two of the beautiful birth prep process is now learning all of the details of labor and birth. Now, of course, you want to understand all of the stages of labor. You definitely need to understand all of your options for managing pain, whether it's medication-free pain management techniques, nitrous oxide, IV pain medications, epidurals. You need to understand what those are, the risks, the benefits of each. You can grab my free guide for that at drnicolerankins.com/pain. If you want an unmedicated birth, especially then, you definitely want to know your options for monitoring your baby and understand what those are. An important piece of managing pain for an unmedicated birth is going to be movement and how your baby is monitored is going to affect your ability to move. Same thing with IV fluids. There's a lot of misinformation about what IV fluids are needed during labor. So you want to understand, like, what are your options for an IV, especially if you're planning an unmedicated birth and then eating and drinking in labor. Labor is work and it requires energy. So you want to understand, like, what is backed by science? What is reasonable what's appropriate for eating and drinking during labor.

Nicole: And you don't just want to know, like, what is considered acceptable based on the science and data and things like that. But you also want to know how your doctor and hospital approach these things. And if they're aligned with what you want now, of course you need to know like, what happens during labor. So what are vaginal exams? What does that information tell you and your doctor about the progress of your labor and birth, what should you expect in terms of the progress of your labor, how frequently should those vaginal exams be done? And then there's pushing your baby out. You need to know different positions to try. You want to know things that you can do to help prevent tears like perinatal massage with olive oil. You want to know how long is it acceptable to push, um, different strategies to be successful with pushing.

Nicole: And then finally you definitely need to know about that golden hour after birth. Okay. There are some things that should happen within that first hour after birth. And I've talked about these on other episodes of the podcast, but delayed cord clamping, skin to skin contact, breastfeeding within that first hour, you need to know why they are done. You need to know what your doctor's approach is, what the hospital's approach is and how to advocate for those things. If need be, okay. Step three of the beautiful birth prep process is preparing yourself for the possibilities. Right now, we know that the vast majority of births are normal, are healthy and uncomplicated. However, birth is an unpredictable process and that journey to getting to that healthy state at the end may not necessarily be exactly what you expect. And you want to be ready to manage that unpredictability of birth, like a champ.

Nicole: So you really need to learn about things like labor induction. You need to understand episiotomy. What about an assisted vaginal birth with a vacuum or forceps. Also, you need to understand a little bit about cesarean birth when you know something about these things. And again, you're not going to know like everything, right? Like you can't learn all of this stuff. You're not going to medical school. You're not becoming an OB GYN, but when you have a general idea of some of the possible things that might come up and you know what questions to ask ahead of time, this is how you can have that informed and intelligent conversation if things come to that, and this is how you will feel confident. This is how you will feel empowered to make choices, decisions that work best for you. All right. Step four of the beautiful birth prep process is how to get off to a great start postpartum.

Nicole: This is another thing that we do a really bad job of for the most part. I think we're getting better, but we do not do a good job of helping people prepare for the postpartum period while they are still pregnant. You really should start getting ready for the postpartum period during your pregnancy start getting ready in the third trimester, which is 28 weeks. And here's the thing. It can feel confusing because it's like, how am I supposed to get ready for the postpartum period? But you're not trying to figure out everything that's going to happen. Like you don't need to know, like what's going to happen at six months postpartum while you're still pregnant. What I am talking about is really learning how to approach those first six to eight weeks post partum. Okay. Even up to 12 weeks, I would say that fourth trimester that we talk about that is going to be the most intense time postpartum those first few weeks, where you're getting adjusted to having this new human being that you are expected to take care of. And you want to have a headstart on what to expect with that. Now you need to understand just like some basic things, like what happens with you and your baby while you're still in the hospital. Like after the baby's born, there's still a little bit of a hospital stay. How long are you going to be in the hospital? What is going to happen? You want to have a strategy or an approach for visitors, both in the hospital and at home now, because of COVID, it's not very likely that you are going to have visitors in the hospital just because of restrictions. But you certainly want to know how to approach having visitors at home and having maybe some of the help, if you're going to have help at home and how to line those things up. Of course, you need to understand about feeding your baby. Okay. Especially with breastfeeding, I called breastfeeding a labor of love. It does not necessarily come easily or straightforward for everyone. So you really need to get some basic information in the pregnancy period in the third trimester on how to get off to a great start with breastfeeding, and then perhaps, most importantly know, or have a plan for where to get help. If you have difficulty with breastfeeding in those first few weeks, that can definitely be a challenge.

Nicole: The other thing that's important for you to know about is how to care for your body postpartum, especially if you've had vaginal tears. So you need to know or have an expectation or understanding of what the normal changes will be, that your body will go through. And those first few weeks after you have a baby, it's also nice to know some of the like bare minimum things you need to get started to have a baby. You actually don't need a lot. You just need diapers, onesies, bassinet, blanket, not a whole lot of stuff. So just sort of those bare minimum things to get you started. And then an understanding that there will be ups and downs that first few weeks can be challenging. It's not all roses. So just understanding that that is possible and that it's okay to ask for help. It's okay to take time for yourself. It's okay if you don't have the warm fuzzies for your baby right away, all of those things are important. Things that you need to know. It's also important to know that you should take time and process your birth. If you need to, if you unfortunately had a traumatic experience during your birth. And perhaps one of the most important, or certainly a very, very high on the list of important things that you need to be aware of are warning signs to look out for in the postpartum period. But a lot of people do not understand is that 60% of maternal mortality actually happens after birth. Now it is not likely that you are going to have a severe event or die after birth, but you want to be on the lookout for warning signs to look out for. You can grab the free downloadable I have. It's drnicolerankins.com/warningsigns. It's just like a one-page thing. Can print it out, stick it on your refrigerator if need be. So you definitely need to know those warning signs to look out for after birth. Okay. And then the final step of the beautiful birth prep process is making birth wishes that work.

Nicole: Now, of course we say birth wishes and not a birth plan because no one can plan birth. Birth is an unpredictable process. Like I said, and I do have a free class that helps you with making your birth wishes. That's drnicolerankins.com/birth-plan. But let me tell you, in order to really turbocharge your birth wishes and get them ready, ready, you need to have that solid foundation with the information from the other four steps of the beautiful birth prep process as I teach in the free class and don't get me wrong. The free class by itself alone is, is very good and lots of helpful information, but making your birth wishes is a process. And an important part of that process is understanding how your doctor and how your hospital approach birth and the way that you're going to understand that is by asking questions.

Nicole: And I provide some of those questions within that free class. However, you are going to have a much more robust, intelligent, and informed discussion with your doctor if you've done that background work with the other four steps, you know what you need for having good support, you understand the details of labor and birth, you know those possible things that may happen and can think about how you would manage them, you know about that postpartum period. So when you go and have that discussion, and when you make those birth wishes, you're super informed, you're super prepared. You are super ready to have that beautiful birth. All right. So just to recap, a beautiful birth is one where you feel calm, confident, and empowered. You're prepared to use your voice. You're ready to advocate for the birth experience that you want. You will feel happy, supported, and in control of the things you can control, ready to navigate the things you can't control.

Nicole: The five steps of my unique, beautiful birth prep process. Step one, set the tone for your birth. Step two, learn all the details of labor and birth. Step three, prepare yourself for the possibilities. Step four, get off to a great start postpartum and step five, make birth wishes that work. Now, these five steps are the exact steps that I take you through in my online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. And by the end of the course, you will be calm, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful birth. You will not find childbirth education anywhere else that is this affordable, this comprehensive, and in the next couple of weeks, I am releasing an all new updated version of the course. It's taken me a bit longer to get it out than I would like, but it is coming. I have rerecorded the entire course added more visuals, added more content.

Nicole: The new version takes the already great content to the next level. So do check out all the details of the course at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. You still get an excellent idea of what is included in the course. Current students will be the first ones to get access to the updated content and that no additional charge. When you enroll, you get access to all of the updates for free, and there's also a 30 day money back guarantee for free. So if for some reason you're not satisfied with the course, you can get your money back, but do check out the course at drnicolerankins.com/enroll. And be on the lookout for that new updated version coming soon, I cannot promise, and I'm actually fairly certain that the price will probably go up a little bit with the updated version. So if you're thinking about enrolling, go ahead and snag the current price.

Nicole: That's drnicolerankins.com /enroll. And you will get those updates. You'll be the first ones to get it when they're ready and they'll be ready very soon. All right. So there you have it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcast or wherever you're listening to me right now. And I really love it if you leave those honest reviews in Apple Podcasts, they help the show to grow. And I do shout outs from those reviews as well. Seriously, though, if you're not following me on Instagram, follow me on Instagram. That is the place where I love connecting with folks. I do live Q and A sessions there. I do stories there. I'm just really, really loving Instagram. I don't do reels because I can't, I just, that's just not me. So I've thought about it. And I'm just like, I'm gonna just have to pass on that. So you're not gonna see me doing reels, but you will see me doing lots of other great things and providing lots of good content there. So do check me out @drnicolerankins on Instagram. Um, I would love to see you there. So that is it for this episode, do come on back next week. And until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth.

Nicole: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. Head to my website, drnicolerankins.com to get even more great information, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class on How To Make A Birth Plan That Works, as well as everything you need to know about my signature online childbirth education class, the Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's drnicolerankins.com and I will see you next time.