Forget the horror stories – giving birth can be a positive experience. But you need to prepare mentally to help ensure a stress-free birth and not let fear take over as your due date closes in.
While you can't control everything with your birth experience, you can stack the odds in your favour... But how? We've spoken to midwife and hypnobirthing teacher Anthonissa Moger to bring you her top tips...
- From the moment you get the happy news, start immersing yourself in positive birth vibes! That means ducking out whenever a stranger wants to tell you their birthing horror stories, and surrounding yourself in the positive ones.
- Your birth partner, whoever they may be (sister, mum, friend, husband, wife) can be your biggest champion and greatest support on the day. They can literally pull you through the toughest moments. But in order to be confident, they may need a little training themselves! Get them involved at every step, give them some books to read and write a plan together of what they will do for you at each and every stage of labour on the day.
- Getting your body strong for birth is just as important as getting your mind strong. Giving birth is a big job and takes physical strength and energy. Exercising regularly will give you the power to labour AND push your baby out. Some of the best ways are yoga, pilates and swimming. If you have little ones already or have a busy work schedule, this can be pretty challenging, and it might look more like doing a DVD at home or walking for forty minutes, a few times a week. That’s still great!
- Start focusing on getting excited to meet your gorgeous little one! You can do this in lots of ways like talking, playing music and singing to your baby - after all, they can hear from 23 weeks old!
- Think long and hard about where you plan to birth. This can have a big impact on the birth itself. There is good research that shows that planning a homebirth with a first baby significantly reduces the rate of medical intervention like the use of epidural, forceps or caesarean birth, even if you transfer into hospital before or during labour! Planning to birth at home or in a midwifery-led unit sends a strong message to your psyche that you can do it!
- The way your baby is lying inside your pelvis can have a big impact on your birth too. Seeing a good osteopath before 34 weeks of pregnancy can make the difference between having a straightforward birth and needing assistance with forceps or even caesarean. A skilled osteopath can work wonders to align your ligaments, muscles, pelvis AND baby.
- Perineal massage! There is much debate raging in the birth world as to whether this works or not. In my opinion getting familiar with your intimate areas can certainly do no harm, and may reduce the chance of tearing. Start your perineal massage three times a week for ten minutes from thirty four weeks of pregnancy.
- Think about and plan for the ambiance in your birth room. The environment that you birth in can have a mega impact on the hormones which control the birth process. So you want to make this a ‘home from home’ vibe, which will make you feel as relaxed and comfortable as you possibly can. Things to consider are smells, sounds/ music, lights, laughter, mobile phones and communication.
- As a working midwife, I see the difference that hypnobirthing makes to a birth experiences. Hypnobirthing is a complete birth preparation, no matter how you want to birth. The best way to engage with hypnobirthing is to do an in person course with a teacher you like and get on well with, but if you can’t afford that, an online course or just a book and set of MP3s are still worth their weight in gold!
- Start thinking about the days and weeks after baby is born, whilst you are still pregnant. So often mums can’t see past the birth itself and forget to think about motherhood. Doing a little planning can make this transition much easier.
Anthonissa is a midwife working at a busy central London hospital, a Hypnobirthing specialist and mum to one. You can enjoy her free relaxation MP3 at www.thehypnobirthingmidwife.co