I am all for learning from our experiences and being able to look back and say, "Wow! I'm so proud of what I know now!" However, having a negative birth experience under your belt should not be the requirement to achieving a great one.
When women ask me what I think is important in having a 'good birth' (which is completely subjective, you should know; only you get to determine if your birth experience met your expectations), one thing I always suggest is choosing a care provider carefully.
What's tricky about this is that we often aren't sure about the ins and outs of what we want our birth to look like until we are close to the actual birth, itself! While it is certainly possible (and a woman's prerogative) to switch providers at any point during pregnancy, the further along you are the more daunting it can feel. Here are a couple tips for finding a provider that shares your outlook.
1. Research! Early on in your pregnancy, or better yet - before you conceive, talk to those friends that have raved about their births. What made it great for them? Read positive birth stories (check out this and this to start) to hear stories of women that really felt empowered in their births. Then, assess what YOU connect with. The freedom to claim the epidural upon entering the hospital? The language the caregiver used with the client? Pushing as the client chose and not as someone else directed?
2. Referrals! Get names from friends that had birth experiences you wouldn't mind having as well. Your OB may be *GREAT* at pap smears and helping you sort out birth control options, but perhaps is less practiced in extending patient autonomy during the throes of labor. These are the things to know!
3. Ask the detailed questions early on! Say you want a water birth in the hospital. Your care provider might be fine with it, but perhaps the hospital you plan to birth at has restrictions in place. Things like this, when learned in the first or early second trimester, can more easily be addressed than if you discover them at your 38-week appointment. Give yourself some time to jump the hurdles.
4. Be honest! Remember, you employ your care provider. When you are looking for a company to give your home a new roof or you're getting estimates for a painting job, you get to be crystal-clear about your desires and expectations. Hiring a care provider to oversee your pregnancy and birth is no different (though, one might argue far more important). Be explicit in what it is you're wanting in your birth and care provider experience, and don't be afraid to speak up if those expectations aren't met along the way.
The are so many great birthing options in Evanston and the surrounding areas. If you aren't clicking with your provider, do a little research and find the care provider of your dreams!