- Express birth preferences clearly
Shifts change, caregivers work long hours, dads get tired and once in labour, you might not want to talk much. If you’re in a hospital and have a long labour, you might see a few different midwives as people come to the end of their working day.
…once labour begins, dads are much more likely to be listened to than mum. Take advantage of this and allow dad to express his natural instinct to protect his mate and child.
It really pays to write down your birth preferences clearly and simply and have copies of them ready to share with whoever is looking after you. If you need to, ask your midwife if they have 2 minutes to go through them verbally with you. This is definitely a job for the dads – research shows that once labour begins, dads are much more likely to be listened to than mum. Take advantage of this and allow dad to express his natural instinct to protect his mate and child. This will give mum the chance to remain in her birth bubble, focused and unworried.
- Ask questions
It’s your body, your baby and your birth. I’ve heard it said that we ask more questions about fixing a roof or fitting a kitchen than we do when a baby is being born. How can that be right? Birth is magical, awe inspiring and a little bit other worldly, it’s true, but it’s also a normal process that has been researched and studied. Your caregivers are professionals who train for years to be able to do their jobs. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t understand, use their knowledge. Talk with them. Satisfy yourself that every decision you make with them was the right thing to do. Don’t leave any room for doubt. It’s OK to ask for the risks and benefits of every option. It’s OK to ask for time to decide. It’s OK to decide to say no. But first, you must ask the questions.
- Thank goodness for modern medicine
You may have had your heart set on a natural water birth at home and then your baby arrived via c-section. You might not have wanted any pain relief but on the day you decided differently. Isn’t modern medicine wonderful? You have these choices available to you and can make decisions in clean hospitals, with fully trained caregivers in support and your baby will arrive safely and healthily. It’s so easy to demonize more medicalised births and be disappointed if you don’t achieve a natural one, but we are lucky women. So many women in the past and around the world now, don’t have the access to healthcare we have. The fact that we are able to pick and choose in itself is a luxury.
It’s so easy to demonize more medicalised births and be disappointed if you don’t achieve a natural one, but we are lucky women.
I often remind parents-to-be that positive and negative are relative terms and thoughts are fluid. There are physical ways to increase your chances of having a more comfortable, natural birth like hypnobirthing, keeping fit during pregnancy and eating well. Equally important is preparing yourself mentally for what is about to happen.
If you take the time to get informed and make plans, whatever path your birth takes, you can look back on your birth experience knowing that everything that happened was right for you and your baby. And who can ask for a better start to family life than that?
Hannah is a KG hypnobirthing teacher, mama, writer and feminist. She’s passionate about women’s and children’s health, and runs hmhypnobirthing.co.uk, helping parents to be in south London plan for empowering, confident births. She can also be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.