There are many available choices surrounding pregnancy and childbirth—a hospital birth is no longer seen as the only safe option for delivery. Many couples are opting to have their babies at home or in birth centers that offer the kind of care that is tailored to each couple’s needs. Currently, holistic practitioners in the field of childbirth are addressing the need for dietary changes, abstinence from harmful substances, childbirth classes, and emotional support during the birth. Other options range from the modern technology of a hospital birth to water birth in the home; obstetric care to midwifery and doula care; and medical drug intervention to labor-inducing herbs.
Although each individual responds to pregnancy differently, and there is no such thing as a perfect pregnancy, there are many ways to contribute to a healthy one. Probably most important is that the woman realizes the physiological impact carrying a child has on her health and that she listens to her body’s needs. Adequate rest, including naps, ‘mental’ breaks, and sufficient sleep, is essential. Maintaining a positive outlook and keeping stress to a minimum are beneficial to both mother and baby. Comfortably paced, regular, non-jarring exercise, such as low-impact aerobics, walking, yoga, and swimming, can increase stamina for labor, strengthen muscles used during delivery, and may enhance the ability to cope better with labor.