‘Believe you can, and you will’ – My tips for a positive birth experience.
I was just going against the natural process of what my body was designed to do.
When it’s your first pregnancy, of course you have all these mixed emotions swirling around, growing with intensity the closer you reach your due date, but with lots of simple thought, support and some tips along the way – you can make it such a positive and empowering experience.
Even when your first birth doesn’t go 100% according to plan you can still direct this in other following pregnancies, like with my first – I felt all those emotions, as it was the unknown, a new chapter, something I had no idea about no matter how much reading and researching i did. The birth went very well for a first timer to be honest, a three hours straight forward labour which did leave me stunned but equally with a rush of self belief that I did that, I brought our baby safely into the world on my own, trusting my own birthing plan. It wasn’t until two hours after giving birth that it went a bit pear-shaped and I suffered a big blood loss, having to be rushed to observations with talks of theatre wasn’t what I had envisioned for us but it all worked out just fine, with not many answers but baby I were well, after a couple of days rest of course.
The point of including that is that it didn’t put me of having to go through it all again, it also didn’t lower the empowerment I felt when in labour. The fact that for once in my life, I felt in control of myself on a whole other level. The pain of birth isn’t pleasant and I wont be one of these people who say otherwise as it does cause pain, but what I felt helpful was that it was a positive pain, I wasn’t ill, I was simply preparing our baby for the world.
Here are my tips for preparing and having a positive birth experience:
Preparing for birth.
Breathing techniques – whether this is by using a yoga dvd, going for a nice walk, or simply sitting in a quiet room, maybe even on a birthing ball and just concentrate on you, your breathing and the state of relaxation you want to reach.
Iron levels – Keeping a close eye on how you’re feeling as in my experience I have felt my levels dip towards the end and it does make all the difference prior, during and for recovery after birth.
Be knowledgeable of your birthing options – Do you want a hospital birth? home birth? water birth?… talk with your midwife to see what will suit you.
Remember that all births are different & unpredictable – So keeping a realistic mindset but one that you feel you can handle in the most relaxed way is going to give you the best chances of having the experience you want.
Keeping active – So your muscles don’t feel the ache as badly when in labour so much, just try to get as strong as you can prior to labour. A stronger mind and strong body will work wonders together rather with a physically exhausted and emotionally tired mama.
Trying to get/keep baby in the optimum birthing position – Try not to slouch on an ever so comfortable sofa (I know its so hard after long day, especially in my case when running about after three littles!) but for the most part I do try and keep as upright as possible when sitting, and even a birth ball can work wonders.
Talk about how you’re feeling – let go of any tense feelings, get support and enter the last weeks/days with as positive a mind as possible. So trying to remain positive before you even give birth is a wonderful thing to do, I have had little moments when I think ‘ I am not sure I can do this next contraction (with my first) but then I just knew that my body was doing all this for a reason, I wasn’t ill, a baby wanted to come out to meet us so it was my job to do that safely, and to finally say hello to my baby!
Preparation – The actual feeling of knowing that everything is prepared helps sometimes, hospital bag, the preparation of birth itself (antenatal classes, or just researching a little bit about the process out bodies are about to embarked upon, even though a little daunting to read as a first time Mama – I found this really helpful and would spend ages scrolling the likes of Mumsnet, NHS websites and also took a handy class with my first to show the physical movement of birthing a baby.) This may not be for some, but for me I kind of felt it was more ‘Knowledge was power’.
When you feel the urge that you’re losing control and want to maybe shout (we’ve all had that moment) just remember to focus and try to project that into a slow, deep breath that will help the flow of oxytocin in the contraction – turning the what seems like negative pain into positive progression to being one step closer to meeting your baby. This also helps to restore some energy in between contractions rather than screaming your lungs off and causing more stress for baby/anxiety for you! I believe its the mindset you have which really helps, focusing on each pain being one step closer to meeting your baby. The more relaxed you are, the more you allow to happen naturally.
Accepting/ or not accepting a helping hand – I found that holding my partners hand helped a lot in the first labour as it was all very new, fast and daunting but having that reassurance that you’re not alone in it all is comforting. On the flip side, do make it know if you want to be left to your own coping skills, wether this is just having someone close by but not necessarily being too in contact.
Natural ailments – In my experiences, at the point where i’d given birth twice, I knew that for me lavender oil held a little bit of magical power. I used it post-birth more so and it did help me heal better from labouring two big, fast babies. With my third labour, I wanted to use it more throughout my pregnancy & especially introduce it while birthing. My lovely sister-in-law massaged the oil into my back when birthing, literally when i was ready to push, I just found it very therapeutic, the smell was something that distracted me from the contraction pain believe it or not, that long with breathing techniques. I again used it post-birth as well to help the healing process.
Wearing your own nighty/ birthing gown – In my first birth it all happened very fast and even though I packed my wonderful birthing bag, the midwives (no matter how helpful) somehow managed to put one of those awful hospital gowns on me back to front – bang went my dignity! Some people like to birth completely naked, some with just minimal clothing, I just found comfort in wearing something of my own, something from home. So with our second & third babies I made sure it was the first thing I did when getting there even though I literally had minutes to spare before wanting to get ready to push.
The most important thing I found was to just remain positive, calm and telling myself this is a natural process for my body, that I could do this with the control I have within myself, that I trusted myself to birth our baby as safely as possible.
I often found myself mid contraction kind of letting my way of thought block out the pain (even though the pain felt like a complete beast at times) I just felt like I needed to try my best to embrace what was going, remembering the moments. I have been fortunate enough to have short labours, but I think as long as you try to be in control and calm, the length of labour may not make much difference. I may have had three short labours, but three very different ones making me have those moments of self doubt, questioning it all, could I actually do it all over again & each time I have reverted back to trying to keep calm. I completely sympathise with/ and know so many mama’s who haven’t classed their birth as something great, that the whole experience had been so traumatic but then i’ve also heard some of their other experiences where they did have a better time as they felt more at ease when knowing how to keep calm, do breathing, and remembering it is all worth it in the end.
Rest! and enjoy your baby! Remember to soak in those precious moments as they too quickly pass by, be kind to yourself, and remember what you & your baby have just achieved.
How did you find labour? What would your tips be? I’d love to read them.
Also if you fancy reading my third birth story you can read it here.