You see it time and time again, they’ve done the HypnoBirthing classes, they’ve attended every antenatal class, active birth position workshop and even breastfeeding to get them ready and prepared for this momentous day but then their labour either started with a trickling of waters that didn’t progress into labour according to hospital policy time or they became high risk, or were just so tired that they needed the much needed rest that an epidural could give them so they could keep going…but then all their wishes, dreams, visualisations for their birth went up in smoke and they get railroaded into the ‘I’ve already given in to drugs’ mentality and I might as well give up and let them do to me what they may.
Unfortunately this is quite common and women are then left disappointed, disempowered and feeling shattered to what could’ve been and what a way to start your mothering feeling like that.
I know what that feels like because I was that person feeling that birth was being done to me instead of me being an active participant, but then I thought what could I do differently next time and what can I teach the parents that I guide through birth to begin to heal and also swim with the tide and ensure that whatever way their birthing goes it can still be a magical day as for this is the day their baby is being born.
So here are my top 5 list of things you can do to give yourself the best chances of having a positive birth when birth doesn’t go to plan…
1) What is a positive birth?? ~ Think with yourself as to what a positive birth really means to you? Does it mean a natural birth? A birth with an epidural? A Cesarean? What your friends opted for might not be what’s right for you. And what does a ‘positive birth’ mean for your partner? Would he feel comfortable seeing you going through the transition of labour and birth? A ‘positive birth’ doesn’t necessarily need to equate to a natural birth, because whichever way your body and baby deems best will happen throughout your labour and you need to be able to surrender to that and be able to be accepting to do what is right for you as this is your body and your baby…a ‘positive birth’ is one which you felt respected, have given consent to anything being suggested to you and to feel as though you’re an active participant in what was happening to ensure a safe entry for your baby earthside. There are women whom have a completely natural birth and can look back at their birth as a day never to be repeated again and then there are women whom elect to have a cesarean with fond memories…it is how you felt that day which equates to the emotions you have attached to that day rather than the events of the birth itself.
2) Having the right support ~ The support at your birth can have a major influence on the way that you feel. If you feel that the people present at your birth are both supporting of the choices you have made and the way you choose to birth your baby then that will speak volumes on what decision making process you take and how strong you feel during the birth. You may choose only your partner there as you feel this is an utmost intimate occasion to only be shared by the two of you and if you do choose to just have your partner there than ensure that your partner gets educated prior to the birth so that they can be the best support person for you to relax you rather than create an anxious environment and also be your advocate when it comes to your choices…I highly recommend watching birthing videos as its paramount to aid them in visually seeing what a women labouring looks like and not ‘one born every minute’ that don’t really portray normal, natural physiology of a woman going through the transition of labour. Once they can see that it will help take away the fear that they may have and it will become the norm to see you vocalising and moving in the same ways they might have seen in the videos. Also attending an independent childbirth education classes to teach them what the crucial hormones which are involved for labour to progress and relaxation techniques to best support you.
If you choose to invite more people into your birth, then think carefully as to whom will make you feel comfortable, uninhibited and trusting to keep your birthing space safe as that is what a women needs to feel in labour for her to progress.
You may choose your mum as she covers all of those qualities, but just keep in mind that she is your mum and she may feel that she needs to protect you and take your ‘pain’ away so put that into the equation or on the other hand she might have her own birthing past that may creep anxiety and fear into the decision making process at your birth.
You may also choose to hire a Doula… A Doula is a woman that has been educated and trained to attend birth as a constant support to you, as that continuity of that one person that you know won’t leave you with a shift change is very comforting to the mum and because this woman has seen and knows birth inside out she can identify those moments when you need that extra support of encouragement, touch, position change, love and just the comfort of a woman who’s been there and knows. There is so much research to show that Doulas help mum avoid intervention in birth and so if that is what your wanting then it’s definitely worth researching your options and finding someone that you ‘click’ with. Also if you are wanting a medicated birth then having a Doula there can aid you with your choices and also supporting you with relaxation techniques to enable you to have enjoy this experience.
3) Choosing your place of birth ~ The place you choose to birth your baby is a crucial component in giving you the best chances of getting you the birth you want… Research has shown that birthing in a public hospital gives you a better chance to avoid intervention and a cesarean so if that’s what your wanting that is most likely the best place to try to avoid that. In a private hospital the primary person responsible for your care is an OB which are trained to deal with complications so unless you are high risk in anyway midwife led care has been statistically shown to have great outcomes for mums and babies. My best advice is to research your options and not just hire an OB or midwife that your friend used as it might have been right for them but doesn’t necessarily mean its right for you. Think long and hard with yourself as to what birthing experience you are wanting and then look and see if the chosen birth place you have selected works along the same model of care as what you are envisioning for your birth. This is about choosing a care provider that is going to do everything in their power to support you in making the best choices on the day to ensure all is well but also to ensure that you are feeling respected and not feeling like you are being bombarded to make decisions based on fear. Women research buying a car, a house, their wedding more than they do their care provider for the most important day of their life, the birth of their baby. This is a day that you will be able to recall when your in your 80’s…don’t take it for granted, let it be a good memory, rather than a negative one.
4) Attend independent childbirth education classes ~ Whether it being HypnoBirthing, Calmbirth or any class which teaches the physiology of labour and birth, promoting relaxation techniques throughout pregnancy and for the birth, releasing fears, helping dads feel an active participant in the birth on how to support mums through this… You need ‘tools’!!! without these ‘tools’ you will make this so much harder for yourself…I’ve done it and seen the tremendous difference it can make and I see it everyday with my clients…It’s amazing what these very subtle techniques can do for a labouring mum to get her through the ups and downs of labour. This is going to be the most amazing, challenging and emotionally driven day of your life and you need to obtain ways to get yourself through it and when you do, no matter how it turns out your going to feel incredible!! I’ve attended births when women have been induced with absolutely no pain relief with just the techniques of relaxation to get them through and they are falling asleep, I’ve had women going in for a cesarean smiling…and that is what a good birth is all about.
5) Surrender ~ In today’s world we are so obsessed with controlling everything!! We need to know what everything means, so we google every single thing, we need to know when we’re going into labour, we feel like we freak out once we passed our estimated due date…it’s all about control! So when we go into labour, this is the one time when we don’t have that. We can’t control how often we have a contraction, we can’t control the time in between them, we can’t control if our waters break, we can’t control baby’s positioning, we can’t control how long we’re in labour for…and what does control do??? It raises adrenaline which then reduces our beautiful hormone of love… Oxytocin and makes things much harder and maybe even longer… so the best thing we can do for ourselves is to surrender…surrender to the moment, surrender to the body, surrender to the breath, the movement and let the waves of labour go over us and go where they may and if sometimes we need a bit of extra help then we know its there but we know that we’ve surrendered and there is nothing else we can do.
Life has an interesting way of teaching us very important lessons and this is going to be the biggest learning you’ll ever go through… Birth is a transition into motherhood…surrendering to being the best mum you can be, not comparing yourself to others, not thinking that everyday will be this exhilarated high. You are only human and you need to be kind and gentle to yourself…and that is what birth teaches us!!
This is a once in a lifetime experience so please don’t take it lightly and take the necessary steps to enable you to have a good positive experience even when birth doesn’t go to plan.