My yoga teacher used to say, “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” Never were truer words spoken! With the best of intentions we often try to plan our lives but we all come to know in time that things often do not go the way we think they will. Even if they head in the right direction, the path can be curvy and often very steep. The only thing which is certain in life, apart from death and taxes, is change. Moment to moment we are in a state of flux. While we must accommodate to this constant state of change, making plans is crucial to ensuring you are heading in the right direction.
Making choices or a plan for your birth can be contentious, where public and professional opinions abound! As soon as you announce you’re pregnant, a barrage of (often unwarranted) comments and questions arise such as: “Are you seeing an obstetrician or a midwife? Are you taking birth classes? Where? Why would you not have an epidural? Oh you’re going all natural, wow you’re brave…” It can often seem endless. Pregnancy seems to somehow make you public property overnight!
In the end though, the choices you make on the birth journey are yours (and maybe your partner’s). This may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Embracing the experience and making choices from a place of intuition, true desire, with priority for the safety of you and your baby is paramount to a happy birth process. Here’s a few tips to keep the process authentic, awesome and also real:
1. Become empowered, excited and fearless about your birth experience and meeting this new human entering your world. Nurture a peaceful mind – just some of the ways to do this are:
- utilise the breath
- get into yoga (if you haven’t already)
- get hypnosis
- use visualization
- use affirmations
- try massage
- find some form of movement
- or anything that will nurture positivity and will see you into labour with a sense of calm and clarity!
This attitude will enhance the effect of the labour hormone oxytocin and will decrease adrenalin (which inhibits oxytocin). YOUR state of mind really counts. Knowing you have this box of tricks with you as you go into labour will be comforting and encouraging.
2. Know that labour and birth is dynamic and sometimes things happen beyond our control. That’s okay! Just nurture your sense of calm and go with it. The universe always has a grander plan. Some things on the plan will change, and other won’t (hooray!).
3. The baby’s comfort and safety are of upmost importance. Don’t lose sight of that through preconceived expectations of an experience. The aim is a healthy baby in your arms.
4. Trust yourself and your body by honing self-love, self-nurture, self-trust. Check your internal dialogue; are you kind to yourself? A little self-compassion can go a long way!
5. Get yourself an awesome birth partner. That is, make sure your chosen one knows their role in the labour/ birth room. Their role should mainly be to nurture you, keep you calm, and to love and support you. They are your advocate and guide (when you may not be able to express yourself fully!). Share your feelings, plans and thoughts with them leading up to the big day
6. Do seek opinions but make up your own mind about your choices. Trust your own instincts. Other women’s birth experiences are theirs – not yours. Your experience is bound to be different. No two births will ever be the same!
7. Aim for a happy and safe birth. Adding words like ‘normal’ or ‘surgical’ to the word ‘birth’ may foster guilt and a sense of being abnormal if it doesn’t all go the way you intended. You’re not abnormal and you won’t be, regardless of the outcome.
8. Try to have continuity of care such as a good midwife or other support person, who can spend ample time with you during your pregnancy and labour. This is the one thing which has been shown to increase your chances of having a birth without intervention. These people keep you centred, nurtured, and they know you and they know what you want.
9. Be careful of online birth forums, as they can scare you and even give you biased and badly written information. Take them with a grain of salt, and if in doubt, check with your midwife or obstetrician.
10. Know that your caregiver has your and your baby’s best interests at heart.
11. Don’t be afraid to do your research about birth and what’s available (medications, alternate positions, interventions, etc). Delve, read, ask and just do what YOU need to.
12. Invest in an awesome child birth education program; one that nurtures a peaceful, positive mindset and combines practical guidance for birth and motherhood. The program should give you useful coping tools as well as evidence based information (without blinding you with the science). NB: You do get what you pay for!
13. GET EXCITED! Embrace this! It’s soon going to be your baby’s birthday!!! A new beginning where love will take on a whole new meaning! <3