The birth of your baby is a huge life event and therefore should be prepared for accordingly.
Knowledge is power & during birth feeling in control is one of the most significant factors in how women view their childbirth experience. Empower yourself by researching your options for birth, beginning from when you discover you’re pregnant. Where you give birth & with whom will have a huge impact on your choices. Understanding your options is key.
PREPARE YOUR MIND
A positive mental attitude for labour & birth is of huge benefit during pregnancy & the birth process. It helps the natural hormones of labour flow uninhibited by stress. Avoid listening to horror stories from other mothers, seek out positive stories and influences. Many women find hypnobirthing, meditation, or visualisation useful to relax them and to help them get into the right mindset for birth. Antenatal classes with your birth partner will inform you of what to expect and allow you both to ask questions or allay fears. There are many types of birth preparation classes available. Find one that suits you, either in the hospital or privately.
PREPARE YOUR BODY
Staying active and healthy in pregnancy helps your body stay strong for the birth process. The more active you are, the easier you should find the labour & birth. Eating well, including taking a nutritional supplement like Proceive, will help keep your body in optimum condition for labour and for your recovery postnatally. Pelvic floor exercises and perineal massage can strengthen your pelvic muscles to make birth more efficient, with less chance for pelvic trauma. (Always a good thing!) Ask your midwife how to perform these exercises and massage. There are certain positions that you can adopt at the end of your pregnancy to encourage your baby into the optimum birthing position, such as sitting upright, keeping your knees lower than your pelvis and sleeping on your side whenever possible.
BE OPENMINDED AND FLEXIBLE
It is extremely useful to prepare a ‘Birth Plan’, also known as ‘Birth Wishes/Preferences’. This plan serves as a quick concise way to communicate to your maternity care provider what type of birthing experience you are aiming to have. For example, what type of pain relief you would prefer to use or not use. This may be especially relevant if you are not able to communicate while in labour or there is a shift change during your labour. The process of preparing a birth plan also allows you to think about what you want, or what you don’t want, ahead of the birth. It is important to note that these are your preferences & wishes, and while the maternity care team will aim to fulfil these wishes, it is not always possible. Your Midwife or Doctor can go through your birth plan with you at an ante-natal appointment prior to your labour, to explain or clarify your wishes. We have little control about how the physical process of labour goes, but we do have control about how we react & adapt when things do not go as expected. Feeling involved in the decisions made about the birth are key to feeling in control in labour.
PREPARE FOR PARENTHOOD
It is also important to prepare for the postnatal period that follows birth. Do you want to breastfeed? If so, an antenatal breastfeeding class would be extremely beneficial. Healthy eating and exercise throughout pregnancy will stand to you when you are recovering postnatally and potentially breastfeeding. Thinking about who will be part of your support network postnatally is a vital and often neglected aspect of preparing for parenthood. Who will you want around in the early days? Do you need to set up boundaries for relatives? How will you practice self- care while minding your bundle of joy? and how will your support network recognise if you are struggling? This may seem like an awful lot to think about, but you have a whole nine months to figure out what will work best for you and your partner!
Birth can & should be a positive experience for parents, even if it does not go as expected. Empower yourself to have the best birth you can have with support, respect and feelings of being in control of the process. It is an event you will remember for the rest of your life, and you deserve to have positive memories of this life altering, amazing event.