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I Love Labor (Really!)

I Felt in Control Yet was Open-Minded

When my obstetrician asked if I had any particular expectations about my delivery, I took the opportunity to unload my fears of needles, drugs, and being confined to a bed. When I went into labor (and there were no complications), he arranged for me to have no IV and no restrictions on my movement.

This lack of unnecessary medical intervention made me feel more in charge. Researcher DiMatteo found that two types of control were important to feeling more fulfilled by childbirth: self-control (the kind you get through pain-management techniques) and situational control (having a degree of autonomy about everything from your body positions to whether you get to wear your glasses to watch the birth).

Some current obstetric trends are providing women with more control, too. These include homey labor-delivery-recovery rooms and birthing centers, the resurgence of midwives and doulas (women experienced in labor and delivery who provide support, but no medical aid), and certain medical practices, such as allowing women to follow their natural urges to push.

As helpful as choice and control are, they come with a caveat: A woman must be flexible enough to alter her plans as conditions demand. After all, giving birth is nothing if not unpredictable.