You ARE in control: 5 expert tips for a truly positive labour and birth
Without a doubt the day you meet your baby is one that will be etched deeply in your memory forever, whether it’s baby #1, #2, #3 etc...each one leaving a lasting imprint that ideally you can treasure forever, reminiscing as each birthday rolls around. But a positive experience is far from a given; many aspects are outside of your control during pregnancy and childbirth and it’s not really something that you can plan as such.
If things don’t go the way you wanted or you weren’t treated with dignity and respect, all too often people will try to appease you with some variation of “a healthy baby is all that matters”. But; a healthy baby is NOT all that matters and your emotional, physical and mental well-being are so important for you, your baby and your family.
If you are currently expecting and planning for the months ahead, rest assured that there are plenty of things that ARE within your control - steps that you can take in pregnancy to stack the odds in your favour of having a positive birth experience.
- Get informed - information is power
Find out what is involved in the birth process; learn about your choices and how you can navigate the Irish maternity system; read books by recognised childbirth experts (see here for my top 5) and write up your birth preferences with your partner. The very act of writing birth preferences helps you to discover what your options are and what is important to you, so if you do only one thing; let it be this.
- Train your mind for resilience
While you may not be able to control when and sometimes how your baby comes into the world, you can work on your mind-set and your ability to accept whatever path your baby’s birth takes. Learn to trust yourself; your body’s ability to birth your baby; and your instincts.
- Surround yourself with positive birth stories
Turn off ‘One Born Every Minute’, tune out from the horror stories that family and complete randomers seem to enjoy sharing with you, and instead relish in the honest and positive birth stories that can be found in the writings of the likes of Ina May and Sheila Kitzinger, and in online and real-life positive birth communities and forums.
- Plan the support you want for birth
Your birth partner has a crucial role in your baby’s birth, advocating for you on the day and managing all potential distractions to enable you to get on with the physically and mentally exhausting work of birthing your baby. Taking time to work through this together is essential. You may also want to consider hiring a doula, to surround yourself with emotional support, and to help you and your partner stay focused on each other and bringing your little one earth side.
- Get your body baby ready
Yoga is your friend here: helping to strengthen your body; understand your body and breath; and still your mind. Often pregnancy yoga classes can also help with point 3 above, and can offer a place of solace to meet other mums-to-be.
If you are wondering where to start with all this, GentleBirth was the answer for me – it’s a one-stop-shop for points 1-4, and much more. It certainly was for me anyway! Attending a GentleBirth workshop with my partner when we were expecting our first baby was unquestionably the best thing we did in preparing to become parents. Add a pregnancy yoga class to the mix and you are well on your way to stacking the odds in your favour 🙂
Wishing you all the best for your baby’s birthday xx