I wish I could sit down with every newly pregnant family and explain what an incredible journey they are about to embark on. I would remind them how incredible their body is and that it’s perfectly designed to grow and birth a baby. I would tell them that while challenging, birth can be a positive experience.

So much of what families hear about birth is negative, but the truth is, human bodies are amazing and powerful, and there is great potential for a positive birthing experience.

Many of us already know that a positive birth starts with caring for our bodies and our growing babies. You are likely here because you are familiar with the benefits of caring for your pregnant body through chiropractic care, and you probably are familiar with the need to eat well for you and baby. In addition to preparing your body, there are seven things I’d like to offer that can help you prepare for a positive birth experience.

1. Address your fears
Nothing takes the joy out of pregnancy and birth like fear does. Maybe your fear is rooted in the unknown, you just don’t know what birth will be like and that scares you. Maybe you have heard stories that are less than encouraging, or maybe you have had a previous birth experience that felt scary or traumatic. Whatever the fear is, you will do well to address it before the birth day arrives. Depending on the how strong you feel the fear, addressing it may look like talking it through and verbalizing your feelings, journaling your thoughts, talking with a birthworker, or doing therapy. The more peace you are able to enter birth with, the more relaxed and comfortable you will be through the process.

2. Learn with your partner
Birth can be an incredibly intimate time. Your body is pushed to it’s very limits to welcome a new human being into the world, and as you are able to experience it with the one who helped you create this new life, the potential bonding and intimacy available through the birth experience is something that is hard to find any other place. As you learn and prepare, do it together. Read books together, take classes together, and talk about what you are experiencing with one another.

3. Find a birth team you work well with
Take time to get to know your birth team and don’t be afraid to find a better fit if your first try doesn’t feel supportive of your wishes. If you are just finding a doctor and hospital or you are feeling like you need to find a better fit, try reaching out to like minded families and ask for recommendations.

4. Educate yourself
Feeling empowered in your pregnancy, labor, and birth can create a more positive experience. Taking time to read a few books (ideally with different perspectives to see what you feel most comfortable with), finding a thorough childbirth class, and talking with other moms who have had the type of birth you desire can be great ways to gain education and feel empowered in your choices.

5. Learn to tune into your body
No matter how much you plan for your birth, at least some part of the process will not go as planned. A good way to determine what to do in those situations is to tune into your body and follow its lead. Our bodies are designed to communicate to us in a variety of ways. You would do well to learn to tune in early on in pregnancy and get to know your body more and more.

6. Create a safe environment for your whole self
Choose a birthing place where you will feel safe and secure. This is different for every person, but regardless of if you choose a hospital birth, birth center, or home birth, you can plan ahead to be sure that you feel safe and secure. Be intentional about who you have around while you are laboring, as well as the external environment such as lighting, sounds, and smells. When your body feels safe it is more willing to bring forth your baby and you are more likely to settle in and allow it to do its thing.

7. Be flexible while advocating for your desires
It’s impossible to know exactly how your birth will look, so going in with a mindset of flexibility while also having a strong sense of what your priorities are will allow you to enjoy whatever journey is ahead of you. If you have educated yourself or taken a class that allows you to have a good sense of what’s going on along with potential variations from normal, then you can decide ahead of time what is really important to you and what circumstances you might encounter that would cause you to exercise your mindset of flexibility. A mindset of flexibility doesn’t mean you have to just follow whatever advice you are given. You can always ask questions and advocate for what is important to you.

Sara Paine is a Wellness Coach and natural childbirth educator. She is a wife and mom to three kids, one adopted and two biological. Her mission is to help families experience greater joy and wellness in all areas of life.