We prepare ourselves for so many of life’s big transitions. Take your wedding day for example. You seek out advice and information, you research and ask questions, you explore all of your options and most of us diet and exercise cause you want to look a million bucks in that beautiful dress you probably spent too much on.
So why do the majority of women in our culture not approach preparing for labour and birth with the same gusto?
In general, it’s tough trying to balance our lives today. Add in becoming pregnant and trying to navigate all that comes with that and it’s pretty daunting.
Giving birth in our culture has become a feared, over mediatised, almost heartless experience that has lost its way, often leaving women and their partners feeling wounded even traumatised.
Mothers and their partners are being sent home lacking confidence and questioning their instinctual behaviour to care for and connect with their baby.
Postnatal depression is on the rise and the number one cause of maternal death in our country is suicide.
Labour and birth is without a doubt one of life’s biggest transitions. Yes, you birth a baby but we are also born and transformed into mothers. Labour and birth is the gateway to motherhood and it is a mental, physical and spiritual experience, which is designed to unpack us and then divinely redefine us. Transforming us into the fierce, loving, confident mothers that we were born to be.
I hear and see so many women putting so much time and energy into the baby’s nursery or stroller choice and saying things like, “I’ll leave the birth up to the experts”. WHAT? You are the expert and you are the one who is going to be giving birth. It’s not always an easy path but women have been doing it for centuries and your body was built to birth.
This is your birth experience, your transition so it’s important to take charge!
Researching your care providers is the first place to start when preparing for labour and birth. Some people have accidentally engaged the services of a care provider that they discover late in the pregnancy does not agree with their birthing philosophy.
It is a great idea to clarify your birth vision for yourself and your partner early on in the pregnancy so you have options available to you. This vision can later form the basis of your birth plan and wishes. What a lot of first-timers don’t realise is that Private practicing Midwives, birth centres and Midwifery caseload in hospitals all have limitations on the number of women they can take on, so these options go early. Some of my clients over the years have missed out on using a birth centre purely by ringing and trying to book in at only 9 weeks into their pregnancy.
Once you have your care providers and place of birth sorted its important to think about preparing the mind and body, as it’s a crucial part of the big picture. You would not just go out one day and run a marathon. You wouldn’t make it. A runner trains and works with the body and the mind feels prepared and understands the symbiotic relationship between the two.
Gentle regular exercise, eating well, and drinking plenty of water during pregnancy will help prepare your body.
Swimming, stretching and walking are all excellent in pregnancy to keep you healthy and on track for the labour.
Visualising a positive birth experience and making a regular time every day to relax and be present to the miracle of pregnancy and the growing baby in your belly is also apart of preparing for the labour and birth. Practice focusing on nothing else but your breath. Noticing the difference it makes to stay calm and centred. You can recall this skill and use it in your labour.
Prenatal yoga is a great way to bring the body and the mind work together.
Another part of preparation is getting educated so you can learn some great hands-on skills for your support team /partner and for yourself to understand what you can expect, how your body works and how you can best cope overall.
Birth information and education used to be given and handed down from our mothers and the elders of the village if you like. Today in our society we rely on classes to educate women and their partners through the birth and early parenting continuum. Most hospitals offer classes and groups but they can be overcrowded, basic and biased. If there is an independent organisation or childbirth educator, seek them out. You will get a better gage of hospital policies and your options if you attend classes outside of the system.
I say to my clients that once you hit 36 weeks close the books, stop looking at the internet and focus on your inner strength and qualities. You can only prepare so much for anything coming into your life, babies included. You then have to let it all go, trust yourself, your baby and the process. Happy Birthing!
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