10 Tips for Your Best Birth

If you are pregnant we know you are getting ALL KINDS of information from your friends, family, the internet, and books so it can be hard to pick and choose what is most important. Today the Alaska Birth Doula is here to break it down for you and give you the TOP 10 things you need to focus on to have the best birth possible! We would love to know what made YOUR birth great! Leave some positive birth vibes down in the comment section!

Posted by One Family Community Birth Center on Monday, April 3, 2017

10 Tips for a Positive Birth

Pregnancy and birth are so full of questions.  As a doula and childbirth educator, I love to help my clients find answers and determine what is best for them and their babies.  I enjoy helping them work through the pros and cons of any particular choice or circumstance, and go through what the evidence and research shows so that they can make fully informed decisions.

I often hear things like, “What do you think about Dr. So-and-so?”  “Which hospital is the best?” “Will I be allowed to eat/drink/shower/stay home/wear my own clothes?”

In my Gentle Birth workshops and childbirth classes I go over these ten best tips for a positive birth experience:

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

1. Focus on what can go right! 

We are inundated with scary stories about pregnancy and childbirth in the media, where birth is almost always depicted as an emergency.  Sometimes our friends or family members seem to think our pregnancies are a good time to tell us their horror stories, or that of their best friend’s cousin, or delight in sharing some scary thing they “heard.”  Pregnancy is such a mystery, growing this little person we may get a rare glimpse of via sonogram, or hear their little heartbeat on occasion, feel their kicks and bumps… but otherwise we must choose to trust that all is well and growing accordingly.

We do have some power over our thoughts – we can reframe them and focus on what is going right, right now, and what can go right in the future.  We can look to the evidence that the vast majority of babies are born healthy, to healthy mothers.

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

2. Choose your birth space carefully

You have a choice in where you give birth.  In Anchorage and Mat-Su, we have several hospitals,  multiple birth centers with midwives that offer birth center, home birth, and hospital delivery, and several home birth midwives.  You have options!  Your birth space and your caregiver is one of the most important choices you can make regarding your pregnancy and your birth.  Choose  wisely!

3. Move your body

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

Keeping your body moving is so beneficial for a healthy pregnancy and birth!  I love prenatal yoga, walking, and swimming.  For the most part, you can and should continue to do your usual activities and listen to your body for modifications as your baby grows and your balance changes.  I also suggest considering visiting a Chiropractor trained in the Webster Technique Trained to check for and maintain proper spinal and pelvic alignment.

4. Take an independent birth class

I know I’m biased, but I can’t stress the benefits of educating yourself about the childbirth process, comfort techniques and coping skills!  Just like choosing your birth space, finding the right class for you and your partner is important.  There are so many options!  Online, in person, private, group, Hypnobabies, Hypnobirthing, Lamaze, Bradley, GentleBirth!  Reach out to the instructor, ask questions, and determine what class seems like it would be most appropriate for you.

Or, take a couple of different classes, and benefit from the varying styles and bits of wisdom you’ll gather from several methods and philosophies.

5. Hire a doula

Again, biased!  But I have evidence to back me up! 

Doulas are proven to lower stress during pregnancy, shorten labor length, lower pharmaceutical pain medication use, decrease use of Pitocin and forceps, lower rates of cesarean birth, and increase women’s satisfaction with their birth experiences. (Journal of        Perinatal Education, Winter 2013. PMC3647727)

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

6. Avoid “Negative Nellies”

It’s perfectly okay to stop someone who has begun to relate a scary childbirth experience or story, or scorn your choice of caregiver or birth space.  I like to encourage my clients to say, “That doesn’t sound like something I want to hear right now. I’m focusing on the positive.” And simply change the subject.  Having a ready list of things to talk about instead can come in handy – like something you’ve picked out for the baby’s nursery, or a new restaurant you want to try, or the weather… anything! 

If you have someone in your life that simply won’t let up, it’s okay to avoid engaging them in conversation about your pregnancy or birth choices.  Just like a mama bear protects her cubs,  you can protect your mental and emotional health and protect your baby from negative influence in your mind and heart.

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

7. Prepare your partner

Does your partner feel ready?  Perhaps a class just for them would help?  Would they like to go  to consults for potential pediatricians?  Are there books or movies that might be reassuring? Can   your doula or childbirth educator offer tips on any of these, or support for breastfeeding, swaddling, baby wearing, diapering? 

8. Write your birth preferences

I like to give my clients planning a hospital birth a one-page bullet-point template for writing up their own birth preferences.  I find that the staff in labor and delivery are generally receptive to reading and honoring these.  Calling it birth preferences rather than a “plan” allows space for things to change if need be as labor progresses.

9. Labor in water

Water is nature’s pain relief! Use the warm, soothing spray of a shower on your back or belly, or submerge in a bathtub.  Contractions are sometimes called “waves”, and working through the waves of labor in water is a soothing and relaxing way to experience birth.

Anchorage birth doula Alaska childbirth class placenta encapsulation

10. Build your labor toolkit

Recipe for filling your labor toolkit with the tools you’ll need for the hard work of labor:

Select the right caregiver and birth space.

Seek education for you and your partner.

Think and talk through your preferences for your birth.

Hire a caring, attentive support person to provide all of the physical, emotional, and informational support you might need during the big day.

Combine and mix well with your open heart and mind.

Now relax and prepare to experience your best, most positive birth!



Anchorage Doula Childbirth Class Classes Placenta Alaska


Hello, friends!
It’s almost springtime!  The sun is shining, and it’s feeling a little like a promise of warm summer days to come! I’m looking forward to gardening and playing outdoors more, and wanted to share some of the things that are “blooming” with Alaska Birth Doula.

It has been a busy winter, with 16 adorable little doula babies born in the last few months.  I am beyond honored to have been included in these pregnancies and births!  Thank you so much for putting your trust in me as your doula!

I’m still accepting birth doula clients for summer due dates, but spots are limited, so contact me soon if you’re considering hiring a doula for your upcoming birth! March and April are booked, and I have very limited space left for June, July and October.  Postpartum services are still available for all summer months, with limited availability in April and May.

Do you follow me on Facebook? And Instagram?  I’d love to keep in touch!

GentleBirth Shanna Switzer Alaska Anchorage Childbirth Class


Did you know?

As Alaska’s first and only Certified GentleBirth Instructor, I am thrilled to bring this incredible and innovative childbirth education program to our community!  

The GentleBirth philosophy combines brain training techniques including Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Sports Psychology, and Medical Hypnosis, along with tools, information and techniques to prepare for the most positive birth possible.

Workshops are held one weekend a month, or you can always contact me for more information or to arrange a class around your schedule!  Register or find more information here.

Childbirth Class Anchorage Alaska Shanna Switzer Doula


In addition to monthly GentleBirth Workshops, I am also hosting weekly Childbirth Classes on a rotating schedule!

These informative, interactive, fun classes and meetups are held every Thursday evening at One Family Community Birth Center. Childbirth education to fit your budget and your life – only $25/class, your birth support person or partner is free! You can join these classes at any time, and take them in any order.   

Meetups are FREE and all are welcome!  Bring those bellies and babies!

Shanna Birth Doula Childbirth Educator Anchorage Alaska Birth Collective

Are you following the Alaska Birth Collective?

From preconception to postpartum and beyond, we’re making connections between caregivers and community. Recent events have included brunch, Pilates for pelvic floor health, Babywearing 101, and much more!

We love this community and we want to build it!  

You can follow Alaska Birth Collective on Facebook And Instagram

Placenta Encapsulation Anchorage Shanna Switzer Doula


Book any Placenta Encapsulationservice before the end of April and you’ll receive a $25 discount on your package price, no matter your due date!  

Reported benefits of placenta encapsulation include more energy, higher milk production, lower levels of anxiety, depression, and hormonal challenges after birth, and mood stabilization.  You only get one chance at preserving the benefits of your placenta, contact me for more information or to take advantage of this special deal!

Childbirth Prep Class Private Baby Shanna Doula


Have you ever wished you could just sit down with a knowledgeable friend and get the nitty gritty on all things birth?  Someone who will tell you all of the ins and outs of hospital procedures, or help you develop your birth plan or pack you birth bag?  

Maybe you can’t find time in your busy days to take a childbirth class with your partner? Or perhaps someone gifted you a baby wrap, but you have no clue what to do with that insanely long piece of fabric, and YouTube isn’t helping one bit?

Do you want to know how your body might really feel and look, and how to prepare for the physical and emotional challenges of new motherhood?

Private Birth and Baby Prep Sessions are designed with you in mind. A 3-hour visit with me, a professional, certified doula and childbirth instructor, to talk about you and your baby and all things pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum.  I offer a discounted rate of $99 if you’d like to visit in my cozy home office in Eagle River, or for $125 I’ll bring all of my supplies, educational materials, and comfort items for labor to you and your birth support or partner in the comfort of your home.  

These sessions include a full childbirth curriculum plus a workbook that is yours to keep, plus continuing support via phone, email and text during your pregnancy and for as long as you need after your baby arrives.  Let me know how I can support you for your best birth!

Warm wishes,


Anchorage Doula Childbirth Class Educator Placenta Shanna Switzer