I’ve said it before, I will say it again, birth is bloody important!! It’s not how you birth that is important, it is how you feel about how your birth went that is important!
There will always be those of us who aren’t able to have a straight forward birth, and we need to be making sure that we still feel empowered, understanding, accepting and confident about how we birth.
#1 Prepare for birth
EVERY birth needs preparation, you may need to prepare as this is your first birth and you feel know nothing, or you may need to prepare as you have given birth previously and it didn’t go as you hoped, so you need to prepare your mind to learn to trust and understand your body, or you may need to prepare as this is your second, third or more pregnancy and you are at home running around after a toddler finding time to focus on your bump and your birth difficult! Whatever your situation you need to prepare! Preparation may be as simple as listening to some relaxation CDs and practicing and visualising your birth each evening, to attending a birth prep/antenatal class.
#2 Understand how birth works
This kind of follows on from above, if you understand the birth process, you understand how important your hormones are and how important it is to remain calm and relaxed whatever is happening, whether you are going for a drug free birth, an induced managed labour or a CS,your body will be allowed to do what it needs to do and release the hormones it needs to far better if you are calm and relaxed.
#3 Be open minded
Birth rarely goes to plan, things come up that we don’t necessarily account for, understand how those issues may affect you, may affect the birth process, and how you may need to change your plans and hopes accordingly…Some of the best birth stories I have read are from Mummas whose birth went off course, but she felt understanding, accepting and in control over those decisions that were made.
Remember taking pain relief does NOT mean you failed, pain relief is there for a reason, birth is not a fight to see who can tolerate the most! That said many mums won’t feel a huge amount of pain in labour (see my next blog on pain!), pain is subjective and no one can judge or make assumptions on how they will deal with it, until they are there.
#4 Trust your body and listen to your instincts
This is a tough one and again goes back to preparing for birth, as well as being open minded….think about the BRAIN acronym:
When any situation comes up in your birth journey, that may send you off course, question by using the above. What are the benefits, risks, alternatives etc, how do you feel about what is being asked? An example I give is being induced for post-dates (I would also add sweeps to this), there are benefits and risks to everything, if you are being advised to take a sweep or induction, question the benefits and risks, and think about how you feel about it? Doing this really helps you justify and accept that decisions being made are the right ones.
#5 Learn Relaxation techniques
Some of us are brilliant at relaxing and switching off, many of us aren’t! If you are someone that this doesn’t come naturally to, it is so worthwhile spending some time practicing. Get some hypnobirthing CDs, join a hypnobirthing or pregnancy relaxation or Daisy Birthing class, and dedicate some time at the end of every day to practice. Whatever is happening to you in labour, it will be 100% more productive and effective if you are relaxed and calm!
#6 Choose and educate your birth partner wisely
Doulas are wonderful, but if you can’t afford to invest in one (check out the mentoring scheme as some will do discounted rates for training purposes), making sure your birth partner understands your hopes and fears and understands how birth works.
They don’t need to learn snazzy massage techniques (although this can help massively), the simplest things are most effective, positive words of encouragement in your ear, a hand hold and long relaxed breath with you, a reminder to take a sip of water, making sure you are not too warm/cold…all things that if they also understand what is going on in birth, they will be able to do without much thought!
#7 Fill yourself with positive birth stories
The media work pretty hard at making birth look medical, scary, noisy and frightening, birth workers like myself and my teachers work hard at dispelling that! There are plenty of lovely Facebook pages which promote positive/normal birth, you tube is full of beautiful births, fill yourself with these! Getting your head in the right space for positive birth is half the of battle!
#8 Relax & Enjoy
Finally, and most importantly, you are on the most amazing journey, nothing can beat this, whether you achieve a drug free vaginal birth, or your baby makes their appearance via a planned CS, this is your journey, you are meeting your little one for the very first time, and life will never, ever be the same! This is something to be enjoyed, in awe of, relaxed and empowered! Relax and enjoy!