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Mom preparing for labor and birth during Cleveland home birth


Preparing for Labor: 8 Questions to Ask Your Doctor | Cleveland Birth Photographer

January 31, 2024

As you’re preparing for labor and the arrival of your baby, you might be feeling overwhelmed with all the information about giving birth. I know I was when I was pregnant with my first baby. But don’t worry, I’ve got you! Here are 8 things your doctor may not have told you about preparing for labor and birth that will help you feel more educated and in control of your birthing experience.

And hey, if these pique your interest, bring them up to your doctor at your next appointment! I’ve included a handy printable checklist at the bottom of this post that you can download and bring with you to your next appointment.

Preparing for labor & birth outside of a hospital (it’s not your only option!)

Question for your doctor: If I decide to birth outside of a hospital, will you support me? Do you work with home birth midwives if I decide to go this route?

That’s right! While many opt for a hospital delivery (I did!), you’ve got other options. As you prepare for labor, think about the environment you’ll feel most comfortable in.

Giving birth at home or in a birth center can provide a more relaxed and intimate environment for the birth of your baby. It allows you to have more control over the birthing process and can provide a more personalized experience. This option is safe for low-risk pregnancies and studies have shown similar or better outcomes as compared to hospital births.

While Cleveland doesn’t have any freestanding birth centers—yet!—some of the local hospitals offer wonderful options for mothers who desire an unmedicated birth in a birth center setting. If this sounds like you, I highly recommend checking out Cleveland Clinic’s Fairview Family Birth Place

If you are set on delivering at a freestanding birth center and are willing to travel, the newly opened Ohio Birth Center in Columbus may be a great option for you. You can read more about the birth center here

Mom preparing for labor and birth at home with midwife

Epidurals are not the only form of pain relief available during labor.

Question for your doctor: Other than an epidural, what other pain relief options do you often see that are effective at managing pain throughout labor?

You may be thinking a lot about pain management when preparing for labor. Yes, epidurals are perhaps the most common form of pain relief during labor, but they are not the only option. Other forms of pain relief include nitrous oxide, analgesics (a type of opioid), spinal blocks, and local anesthetics. To learn more about the pros and cons of the aforementioned pain management options, check out this article.

There are also various natural methods to help ease pain during labor, such as hypnobirthing, acupuncture/acupressure, and massage. These options can provide a more natural and less invasive form of pain relief during labor.

Mom holding newborn baby after c-section

Birthing pools can help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during labor.

Question for your doctor: Are there birth pools at the hospital or another way I can use water to relax as I prepare for labor? (Note: some hospitals will let you labor in a bathtub, but not birth in the tub, so if this is something you desire make sure to ask about hospital policy around birthing in the tub.)

Warm water can help ease the pain and discomfort of labor contractions and also allows you to move around more easily, which can help the baby move down the birth canal. Laboring in a bathtub or birthing pool can also provide a sense of privacy and intimacy which may help your labor progress. 

If you’re preparing for a waterbirth at home, you can typically rent a birthing pool from a local doula or perhaps even your midwife. 

Mom preparing for labor and birth in birthing pool

There are lots of positions that can help make the birthing process easier.

Question for your doctor: What positions am I able to be in when laboring and birthing my baby?

Various birthing positions can help make the birthing process easier, such as standing up, sitting down, on your hands and knees, or even side lying. Being able to experiment with different positions to find what feels most comfortable for you is an important part of the laboring process

In a hospital setting, especially with an epidural, nurses and doctors will encourage you to push on your back. It’s super important to advocate for yourself—or instruct your doula or support person to—if you want to try differing positions. 

Mom holding newborn baby in hospital bathroom

Doulas are a great support when preparing for labor and aren’t only used for birth.

Question for your doctor: Do you work with doulas often? Are there any you recommend?

A doula is a professional trained to provide emotional and physical support to you and your partner during pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the postpartum period. A doula will help you with relaxation techniques, provide emotional support, and advocate for your wishes during birth, just to name a few.

You can also utilize doula support after you bring your baby home! Postpartum doulas are tremendously helpful in the first few weeks of your baby’s life, whether you hire them for overnight care or extra hands during the day.

Mom with midwife at Cleveland home birth

You may be able to eat and drink during labor, if you want to.

Question: Am I able to eat and drink during labor? Under what circumstances will I not be allowed to eat or drink in labor?

Having a light snack like fruit, nuts, toast, etc. can help keep your energy levels up during labor. It’s important to listen to your body and your healthcare provider during labor and to make sure you are well-hydrated and nourished for the hard work ahead. 

Newborn baby in warmer at Cleveland hospital.

The power of the mind – visualization and other relaxation techniques when preparing for labor

Question: Is there anything I can do now to learn how to mentally and physically prepare for labor? (Not all doctors will be equipped to answer this question. If yours doesn’t have any advice, try reaching out to a local doula for more information.)

Visualization and mindful relaxation techniques like hypnobirthing, yoga, and meditation can be tremendously helpful leading up to and during labor. for staying calm and focused during labor. These types of techniques have been shown to help you stay calm and focused, lower stress hormones and increase endorphins, which can make labor more manageable.

Mom preparing for long labor

Cesarean sections are not as scary as they seem.

Question: In what situations do you perform c-sections? What is your c-section rate?

C-sections, or cesareans, are a common form of delivery and can be planned or unplanned. While a c-section may not be in your birth plan, it may be necessary in certain situations for the sake of the mother and/or baby’s safety and well-being.

Want to read more real-life stories about cesareans? This article from Evidence-Based Birth is a wonderful resource on c-sections.

Mom and dad in Cleveland hospital room after baby's birth

So, there you have it, mama. You’re armed with some new information that will hopefully help you feel more confident and excited about your birth! You’re going to rock it!

Want these questions in a convenient and printable checklist? Your wish is my command! Click here to grab my PDF freebie on the 8 questions you need to ask your doctor when preparing for labor.

Enjoy this post? You might also find my blog post on how to find a birth photographer in Cleveland, OH interesting. You can check it out here!

Newborn baby being laid down in bassinet

Hey there and thank you for stopping by! I’m Mackenzie, owner of Mackenzie Romagni Photography, a birth and photographer serving growing families in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. I hope you found my “Preparing for Labor: 8 Questions to Ask Your Doctor” blog post helpful. 

Are you expecting a new baby and hoping to hire a birth photographer for your hospital, birth center, or home birth? Contact me here to connect! Not quite ready yet? No problem! Follow me on Instagram or join my email list here to stay in the know.

Mackenzie Romagni is an award-winning Cleveland and Northeast Ohio birth and newborn photographer. She offers documentary birth and natural and relaxed lifestyle newborn photography.

Mackenzie is based in Cleveland and serves all of Northeast Ohio, including the following counties: Lorain, Medina Summit, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake & beyond.

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every moment counts.

As a parent, I know how quickly our babies grow up; all the time in the world still doesn't feel like enough, and every moment counts. While I haven't yet figured out how to keep those babies small, I do know that a photograph does a pretty good job in the meantime.


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