5 Tips for Positive Birth
Being a dreamy 25 year old student I went for the stereotypical hippy option, a pain-relief free homebirth on the living room floor. Using hypnobirthing breathing techniques and plenty of youthful naivety I had an incredibly powerful and positive birth experience. It put me on the road to where I am now, somewhat older, slightly wiser and considerably more grounded. What I learned from giving birth is that women are shape-shifting superheroes and are much tougher than we seem! Our bodies completely transform in birth and open up like blooming technicolour flowers.
These days I am a midwife working in a busy South London birth centre and a hypnobirthing teacher. I love my work passionately and feel lucky to have found what feels like a calling, something I never imagined I would find. A large part of my job is preparing parents and especially first time mums for their births. Now if you have had a baby or been with a birthing woman you will have your own take on what birth is, how it feels and what advice you will give to your friends when it’s their turn. From what I’ve seen every woman will have a strikingly individual experience and what would be a heavenly natural homebirth for one can be painful and traumatic for another.
Here are my TOP FIVE TIPS to have a positive birth experience, no matter which way you decide to birth your baby:
1. I’ve noticed that the women who stay active in their pregnancies tend to have easier births and quicker recoveries. This seems pretty obvious - of course if you are fit and healthy your body will work more efficiently. But this isn’t so easy when you are nine weeks pregnant with raging morning sickness that lasts all day and all you want to do is lie on the sofa with your duvet eating malted milk biscuits! When you get to your second trimester and have a little more energy get active again. Walking, swimming, pregnancy yoga and pilates are all fantastic.
2. Stay relaxed. Easier said than done when you have a two year old causing all kinds of crazy in the kitchen cupboards! Especially now that she has just figured out how to climb up and open the ones you didn’t think you would need to child proof. If you already have little people who need your constant attention, relaxation may mean you take ten minutes out at the end of the day to lie down quietly and do some breathing. Or find an obliging chap to give you a good long foot rub. Make time for yourself you deserve it!
3. Many of the women I see are very anxious and fearful about birth and pain. They are often very well informed and have definitely watched plenty of ‘One Born Every Minute’. To a certain extent you can choose what you fill your life up with so immerse yourselves with healthy, happy birth. Watch some beautiful water births on YouTube, talk to your friends who have had good experiences and read anything by Sheila Kitzinger, Ina-May Gaskin or Michel Odent.
4. These days most women will make a birth plan, a long wish list cherry picking all the best bits. I think it’s great to be well informed and know what you want! I have also noticed that from time to time babies don’t read the plan and have ideas of their own. How dare they! I recommend that you also write a ‘birth tweet’ (not that this should be published of course). A tweet has space for only 140 characters which is about two sentences. This enables you to condense down the essence of what is really important to you. This would be mine ‘We want our baby to be born in a calm, peaceful and loving environment’. Give it a go!
5. Can you guess my last top tip? Of course it’s hypnobirth. Having supported hundreds of birthing women and used hypnobirthing myself I know how well it works. Hypnobirthing provides the knowledge and understanding of normal birth, combined with relaxation techniques to keep you calm and in control no matter what happens. I have supported a couple who used hypnobirthing during an elective caesarian, the calmest I have ever attended!
Once you have had a baby you may suddenly realise how epic every woman who has ever gone before you really is. Something that your children may also realise about you when they finally grow up and stop climbing up the kitchen cupboards!