Preparing for a Positive Birth Experience
Sometimes I have conversations with pregnant women who say: “There’s no point preparing. What will be will be. I do not influence how it goes on the day.”
I know many women feel this way. But it doesn’t make it any less sad to hear.
It’s understandable why we feel like this. There are so many negative stories about birth, the heavily-dramatised depictions we see in film and on TV, and the messages we hear about what our bodies are capable (or not) of achieving.
I thought about a few things that I’d like to share, which may help shift your thinking if you feel the same way:
- Know that you have choices – You have choices every step of the way: from where you choose to have your baby, to how you organise your environment, to who you have supporting you on the day. Even if your birth doesn’t happen exactly the way you want it to, feeling in control of the decisions will make you feel empowered and influence how you look back on giving birth.
- Environment matters – it really matters. Women, dogs, cats, elephants…all mammals! When it comes to giving birth, the one thing that they all have in common is that they need to feel safe. But what feels safest to one woman, might feel different to the next. For example, you might feel the safest in a hospital and your friend feels happiest at home. Wherever you choose to have your baby, there are common elements. It needs to be somewhere that is private, where it’s quiet with minimal interruptions. And somewhere that’s warm and is dark or low-lit. The environment helps to create and maintain a hormone called oxytocin which women get in spades to help them labour and give birth, but only when they feel safe and adrenaline and fear is nowhere to be seen.
- Making a birth plan is a great idea – and it does not set you up to fail. It’s okay to have expectations around birth. It’s okay to plan. It’s fine to put your preferences down on paper. Make a plan A, a plan B, and a plan C if needed. It’s your experience and it’s perfectly acceptable to let those supporting you know what’s important to you.
- Seek out the positive stories – if your aunty, your best mate or a work colleague has had a positive experience of giving birth, ask them about it. How did they prepare? What made a difference to them? If they can do it, so can you.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare – despite the quote which started this post, birth is something you can prepare for. But like anything else in life, it takes a little time and motivation to commit to that. Learning how to relax and reduce fears and anxieties is a skill that can be learned during pregnancy and used during birth. The more relaxed women feel when they give birth, the easier it is.
- Do a hypnobirthing course, take that antenatal class. Dare to hope, dare to trust that you were designed to do this and approach it with the time and energy you and your baby deserve.
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