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From where to deliver to how to choose between a doctor, midwife or doula, moms-to-be have a lot of important decisions to make – and it can be overwhelming. "You really need to plan ahead to create the most positive experience for you and your baby," says author and childbirth educator Gail J. Dahl. Here's what you can do to ensure you get the best pre- and post-natal care possible.
What to do when you discover you're pregnant?
"Reading a good childbirth book (and not just a book about pregnancy) is very important," says Dahl. "Women make better choices in birth when they have more information." Find out what all your childbirth options are and decide what makes the most sense for you. Dahl recommends seeking out a qualified childbirth educator. Childbirth education classes are available through hospitals, birth centers or separate organizations or associations (such as Lamaze International or the International Childbirth Education Association).
"You need a tremendous amount of information to be a good medical consumer during childbirth," she says. "Rather than just learning about a procedure, such as induction of labor or episiotomies, you can find out the pros and cons and why you may or may not want it." Childbirth classes usually include information on things such as signs of labor and techniques for coping with pain, but it's important to research the class to ensure it fits your own childbirth philosophy.