5 steps to a better birth

Whether you're planning a high-tech hospital birth or want to stay in the comfort of your own home, spending time thinking about what might happen on the big day is advisable - being informed puts you in charge of any decisions that need to be made.
1. Be well read: visit your local library or spend time online learning about pregnancy and birth, your pain relief options and their relative pros and cons. Even if you're not sure it's for you, knowing about water birth, self-hypnosis, epidurals and all those other terms you've heard will help you feel that whatever decision you make is the right one for you.
2. Ask, ask, ask! Don't be afraid to quiz your midwife, doctor or anyone else involved in your pregnancy, especially if you feel they're blinding you with science. Their job is to help you at this time, so do tap into their knowledge as much as you feel you need to.
3. Plan: while it's impossible to say how you'll feel on the day, writing a birth plan will make you weigh up your options and leave you feeling empowered and in control - but do be aware that your plan is a best-case scenario, and events may overtake you during labour.
4. Choose the right birth partner: Your partner may seem the obvious choice and will almost certainly want to be there to see your new baby, but if your partner is squeamish, for example, it might not be the ideal choice.
5. Expect the unexpected: your labour won't be the same as your best friend's, your mothe's or your worst enemy's. Birth is unpredictable so do listen to the advice your caregivers are offering and do be prepared for anything!