Maybe it's too early to be pulling out the birthing books but whatever! :) I'm so pumped. Childbirth is one of my favorite topics even when not pregnant. I love hearing women's birth stories and read them at nauseam sometimes. Hehe.
Here are a few things that I deem *essential* to a positive experience:
My healthcare is provided to us by the government because of my husband's job (read between the lines there) and since it's such a HUGE system there's not a lot of continuity of care. I never see the same provider twice! To be fair, there are few practices nowadays where you can be assured that your beloved midwife or doctor will be the one on-call to deliver your bundle of joy. There's something about being familiar with your care provider that adds a level of comfort to your birth and a doula fills all the gaps in the uncertainty of who will be in your delivery room.
A doula is someone who attends your birth JUST FOR YOU! She accompanies you to the hospital (or meets you there) and coaches you through the entire process. The doula we have chosen also provides post-partum house calls for two weeks as well. (Huge help for first-time mamas!) She's hands-on, experienced like you wouldn't believe and is widely respected in the medical community here.
I cannot recommend researching and choosing a doula enough! (I have the info of mine to give out if anyone's interested.) Husbands and mamas are great to have on hand, but my doula made all the difference in the world. Research is showing that having an experienced doula drastically reduces the length of women's labors. I could go on and on and on and ooonnn.... Hire a doula. Period. ;)
Okay, maybe this one should have been #1 but it's also so basic, I just assume that everyone does that before they have a baby. Right???
Ina May Gaskin and I don't see eye-to-eye on every aspect of life but her birthing approach is my absolute favorite. She is an experienced midwife who runs a birthing "center" The Farm, originally a hippie village founded in the 70's where they still live and work. She's written a few books that I highly recommend reading! Like I said, I don't espouse all of her beliefs but she's pretty genius when it comes to birth. Of all the books I've read on the subject, hers are my favorite.
READ and watch documentaries! Positive documentaries, I might add. None of those TV horrors stories like "A Baby Story". That stuff is junk. "The Business of Being Born" and "More Business of Being Born" are good ones, both on Netflix. (Beware, there's some nudity in those.) Also, YouTube has an extensive archive of Ina May Gaskin workshops. I will be watching those again in a few months!
Make a calming playlist for delivery.
My playlist consisted of ONE song. "I Will Exalt You" by Hillsong. Brooke Fraser's voice is a natural pain reliever. Hehe. And those lyrics... We listened to it on repeat for the entire three hours.
4. Birthing ball!
Or medicine ball. Whatever you want to call it.
I didn't take mine to the hospital because I wasn't actually in labor (I posted my birth story a few months ago in case this isn't making sense) but my sister had brought hers two days before when she gave birth to my niece Haley. She was recovering in the same hospital with the ball still in her room so my husband retrieved it as my labor really got going. That worked out well... LOL.
I spent some good tough contractions on that birthing ball.
These are only my non-expert suggestions. Take what you will and flush the rest of you don't agree! Everyone's definition of a "positive birth experience" is different. Do what works for you.