Do you know that your beliefs about birth effect the kind of birth experience you will have?
And have you considered that the beliefs your antenatal care providers have about birth may also impact on your birth?
Or that the information provided by hospital run birth classes will reflect a belief that birth is a medical event?
The one thing I wish someone told me before my first birth was that birth is a doing word, something I didn’t understand at the time. Instead I relied on my midwives and obstetrician to deliver my baby for me; I was more a passive observer going along with what I was told than the one taking centre stage.
As a result I wasn’t prepared for the reality of birthing in a hospital environment. I had little understanding of the cascade of intervention and definitely no clue about my natural birthing hormones. My belief was that I was fortunate to be a modern woman giving birth with the safety of access to medical assistance and, best of all, pain relief. My birth education taught me all my pain relief options according to the medical model. I read pregnancy magazines and the general consensus was don’t be a martyr, ‘Why would a woman want to put herself through the pain of labor when she is lucky to be able to have an epidural?’ Well that made sense to me, I swallowed it hook, line and sinker.
So I had the birth that I prepared for, that reflected my beliefs at the time.
Three days later when the shock wore off I was left with a sense of having been robbed on a some deep soul level. It wasn’t until I went through the experience of a birth without feeling or power that I understood how naive and ill informed I had been. My unquestioned belief was that the medical system would best support me during labor and I entrusted my baby’s safe delivery to the experts. Essentially I had prepared for a medically managed birth, gave away my power and did what I was told.
It never occurred to me that I was the number one expert when it came to my body and my baby! How about you?
How to Prepare for Natural Childbirth
For my next pregnancy I got proactive. I invested in my birth preparation like an athlete training for a marathon. I trained daily! I read up on natural birthing and actively sought out stories and people who trusted birth as a natural process. One of my most powerful influences was the iconic book Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin where I read birth story after birth story of women giving birth with love and trust and this made a powerful impression on me: birth is meant to be blissful! This book was pivotal in changing my belief about what is possible during childbirth. If they could do it so could I. I read it cover to cover many times and gained deep wisdom from the women and their partners sharing their birth journey, their voices giving me faith and confidence and a new understanding of my body’s ability to birth.
Physically I prepared myself and prenatal yoga became a beautiful ritual of honouring my body after I discovered an original hard cover edition of Prenatal Yoga & Natural Childbirth by Jeannine Parvati Baker in an op shop. Yoga stretched my body but also connected me to a deeper part of myself. Through deep meditation I learnt to listen to my inner voice and to find the confidence to stand up for what felt right to me.
I sought the support of an independent midwife who was an essential source of professional reassurance. This helped because a lot of choices I felt were right for me were going against what was mainstream and my baby’s father had his concerns. She had 25 years of experience as a home birth midwife and from her radiated absolute trust in birth. She gave me her time, listened and provided a wealth of resources so I felt informed and better equipped to understand the decisions I was making during my pregnancy.
By the time it came to giving birth I felt 100% ready; calm and confident in my body with a complete trust in the birth process. I took centre stage and did the work to birth my second daughter, my midwife was the passive observer. The result was whole body rejoicing. This is the way it is meant to be, feeling the intensity. I’d do it again any day it felt so good!
If I can do it so can you!
Lets break it down, these are the steps I used to prepare for my positive, empowered birth (plus extra suggestions for you):
1. Self love
Most important! I invested time in myself and my birth preparation because my heart and soul desired something I knew I had missed out on with my first birth.
2. Mental Preparation
I trained my brain by filling it with positive stories. I read and reread story after story written by women who had given birth in a gentle, peaceful way. I educated myself about natural birth, the hormones and physiology and changed my beliefs about what was possible with birth.
- Birth Hypnosis. Library books. You tube videos. Visualisation. Mantras. Private Birth Classes.
3. Physical Preparation
I developed techniques to manage the physical demands of labor. I practiced yoga during my pregnancy and learned how to relax and breathe into the sensations of my muscles stretching.
- Prenatal yoga. Belly dancing. Pelvic awareness exercises. Bodywork. Acupuncture. Breathing techniques.
4. Emotional Preparation
I wrote in a journal daily throughout my pregnancy and sought to understand my fears. I created a birth space that supported my emotional needs for privacy, intimacy, trust and respect.
- Journalling. Kinesiology. Counselling. Art Therapy. Flower Essences.
5. Spiritual Preparation
Meditation and yoga during pregnancy helped me connect with a deeper place of inner wisdom and helped me find the inner strength and faith needed to let go and trust birth.
- Meditation. Retreat. Prayer.
6. Environmental Preparation
I sought the assistance of a health professional who helped me believe in myself and my ability to birth naturally. I chose a support team I trusted. I created a birth space that felt safe to me.
- Doula. Independent midwife. Private Birth Classes. Aromatherapy. Music. Birth Pool.
What about you?
What steps are you taking every day to achieve the birth you want?
Remember, birth is a doing word. It’s the action you take that will make your vision a reality. Please feel free to add any suggestions that worked for you in the Comments section below…
Until next time,
Ps. My passion is using what I learned from my experience to help you prepare for natural childbirth and achieve a peak birth experience, however that may look to you. If you would like to prepare for natural childbirth then you might want to consider private birth classes that offer a fundamental belief that birth is a normal and everyday natural occurrence and help you trust that process.