Whether you are pregnant with your first baby or your third, there is no time like the present to focus your attention to your baby's entrance into the world.
It is only natural to be a little frightened of your labour, but remember, your body is made for childbirth, and with the right preparation, you can turn your worry into wisdom.
Emily Jones from Acacia Wellness is a prenatal and postnatal educator. Emily shares her wisdom with Melbourne Mums Group, with her list of top 5 things to prepare for childbirth:
1. Independent Childbirth Education
There are numerous Independent Childbirth Education specialists from HypnoBirthing to Lamaze and are all beneficial investments. These independent educators are not based on hospital policy, but rather what is best for you and your desired birth outcomes. You will know all your options for birth, and not only have an understanding of what your body is capable of, but also believe in your own ability.
Independent educators also focus on the role of the birth companion, to ensure that they have an artillery of skills to support you, and are filled with confidence that they can be the best support for you when you need it most. Evidence also shows that comprehensive independent educator can shorten the length of your labour, decrease the use of anesthesia and reduce the instance of a cesarean births.
Being in labour is not the ideal time to learn new information, this is best done during pregnancy so that when you are birthing your baby you are already aware of your options, you have informed choice and you can make the best decision, based on the knowledge you already have.
Communication is of the utmost importance. You need to clearly communicate with your birth companion, birth support and your care providers, so that everyone is clear on your desires not only for your birth, but also afterwards. George Bernard Shaw once said ďThe single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken placeĒ, donít assume that the people supporting you know what you want because itís possible that they donít.
Communication with yourself is also often forgotten. Self-talk can be one of our biggest tools, but equally can be your biggest enemy. If you approach birth like a marathon runner, you need to be able to visualise the finish line, understand what is required to reach it, and then believe in yourself that you can do it. No successful athlete tells themselves that they canít win that race; they see it, feel it and believe it, they tell themselves over and over again until it becomes their reality. This is what you need to do in preparation for your birth.
3. Have a plan
And by plan, I mean preferences or wishes, not a tick list. When you plan your birth with an expectation that all will unfold exactly as you have laid out on paper, you place a huge amount of pressure on yourself. However, it is important that you are clear on what your preferences, desires or wishes are in any given circumstance, and what decisions you will make in different scenarios. What happens when the midwife who attends your birth has never met you, and has no idea what your wishes are? Do you want something to happen that is not standard procedure for your hospital?
The other benefit of creating your birth preferences is that you and your birth companion discuss all of these options together. It is important that your birth support knows what your wishes are too, so that they can be an active participant in your labour , and act as your advocate so that you can continue to birth your baby the way you know how.
Your birth preferences need not be a lengthy wordy document, a concise single page dot point outline or even using an app like My Birth Wishes which will help you create your birth wishes using icons so that your birth wishes are very clear and easy to read. Personally, I donít even go to the supermarket without a list, and I donít believe that birth should be any different or even less important!
4. Surround yourself with support
You need to ensure that your midwife/obstetrician supports your choices because you need to be able to build trust and feel comfortable with them. Ask them questions, lots of questions.
Make sure that the people in the room support your birth choices. This includes your partner, mother, best friend or whoever you need in your space. You need everyone to be onboard with you, and to make sure that your support team will encourage you, stay calm , and be strong (for you). Birth is not a spectators sport, so whilst it is of course exciting (and an honour) to be present at the birth of a baby, they are there to support YOU!
5. Prepare your body and mind
Our society is inundated with images of women birthing their babies laying on their backs; this is, in fact, not the optimal position for a labouring woman to be in to effectively birth her baby. Utilising the powers of gravity is always helpful, so staying active during pregnancy (and birth) will help to keep your stamina up when the time comes. You donít want to be hitting gym hard every day or exhausting yourself at crossfit, but regular walking, pregnancy pilates/yoga and even swimming will do wonders for your lungs and your limbs.
Toning your pelvic floor will help you during birth as well as afterwards, but squatting is now one of the best toning exercises you can do. Squatting will help to open the pelvic space to make way for the baby, it can help to avoid interventions and can even shorten the length of the labour. It is important that you donít injure yourself in your preparations so build your way up slowly whilst you familiarise yourself and your muscles with the position (and make sure you support yourself so you donít topple over!)
Self belief and self talk is important, but so is preparing your mind and body to relax. When your body experiences stress, fear or tension, you produce stress hormones; cortisol and adrenaline, which can put your body into fight or flight mode. Your body's natural instinct then is to stall birth until you are in a safe environment to allow your baby to be born safely. When you relax your body and feel safe, it allows all the wonderful hormones required for a peaceful birth to do their amazing work.
Emily Jones BIO
Emily Jones, Acacia Wellness
Melbourne based Emily is passionate about Calm Beginnings, from Conception, Birth and Beyond. A mother to two beautiful souls, it was through a beautiful entrance into the world that was so peaceful and empowering that it compelled Emily to share this amazing gift with other families. From this birth Acacia Wellness was born, and like her family, has grown into something special. Through Acacia Wellness Emily offers a number of services for you, your baby and your family. Emilyís My Birth Wishes app provides you with your trusted birthing companion and the must have app for all pregnant families. For more information visit acaciawellness.com.au or mybirthwishes.com