So you’ve found out you’re pregnant and filled with emotions, congratulations! As you enter this beautiful stage of your life you may be faced with an overload of information and it could be daunting but fear not as help is at hand. Let’s get started with your birth day preparation.
Congratulations, whether it’s your first pregnancy and you’re feeling like a complete novice or whether you’re a veteran in this field knowledge is power and equipping yourself with information as you take on this challenge will ensure that you know all the options available to you for your birth day.
Let’s not call it a delivery, as pizzas get delivered. Whether a natural vaginal birth or a caesarean birth, this is a special day and the preparation leading up to it should be as important.
When I say the words “labour, birth, tear, episiotomy, caesarean” what comes to mind? Generally pain, right? Whether we choose to believe it there’s a negativity that surrounds birth and we see and hear it daily, when we speak about our births we never start with “It was amazing” we say it was sore, I was tired, we tell people we tore badly or the doctor had to cut me. We may not even know that by saying these things which are completely true we plant a seed, one of worry and fear. Well we’re going to try and rewire your thinking.
Giving birth is definitely not the same as having a massage or pedicure but it should never be feared. The pain we experience during this beautiful process is one of the few times you will ever experience pain with the most amazing outcome. It’s not always easy we know, but you were made to do this. I want to create a culture of birthing with confidence and birthing without fear.
With this comes preparation, Wayde van Niekerk doesn’t win without preparation so why would you embark on the ultimate endurance triathlon without preparing?
Let’s speak about the mental preparation needed for this quest. With the joy of pregnancy comes the thoughts of what ifs, the unknown and fears associated with birth. This is natural, you are normal. But getting into the correct frame of mind is key to your birthing experience. Again I stress the importance of preparation and information.
Words have a powerful ability to alter our perceptions and create impressions. So how do we alter these preset impressions? We reassess our words and thoughts to achieve a more positive impression. Easier said than done right? It starts with you. The words we use, the way we verbalize all influence our thoughts and can therefore influence our births.
Preparing for labour means both physically and mentally. Let’s get started with some practical tips to aid you in achieving the birth you deserve.
During your 9 month endurance training you will do the following:
1. Research is power, read books, join online forums, make notes and discuss these with your medical professional. Always go prepared. Evidence based research is always a great conversation starter with your healthcare professional.
2. Choose a medical practitioner that respects your decisions, sometimes you don’t find the perfect fit on your first visit. There’s nothing wrong with shopping around, after all this is someone you are trusting with one of the greatest experiences of your life. Do not settle.
3. Practice breathing, sounds weird right I mean this is something we born knowing how to do. What I’m referring to is breathing techniques, this will assist with coping during stressful times as well as labour.
4. Have a support system that is reliable, dependable and will be an advocate for you.
5. Understand labour and the stages, discuss pain relief methods during all stages of your labour. I will discuss this in further detail at a later stage.
6. Take care of your emotional well being.
7. Draft a birth day wish list, not a plan. (Parent24 has a great one – see here) Plans change and the last thing you want is to be left feeling sad.
8. Understand that there could be complications, discuss these with your care provider. Put all your what ifs on the table.
9. Reaffirm and reassure yourself and embrace the positivity of this journey.
10. Practice relaxation exercises, visualize your happy place and make this know to your support team. When you’re thick in the midst of contractions this could be a useful technique in order to get through. A positive distraction.
11. Meditate, it calms the nerves and builds confidence
12. Stay healthy, this does not only include attending your regular medical sessions but also light exercising. Stay healthy and hydrated.
13. Practice kegal exercises, tone that pelvic floor ladies it creates elasticity in the tissue and pelvic floor.
14. Start squatting, yeah you heard me. Squatting and lunges are excellent birth positions so why not get a head start in training your pelvis.
15. Do not skip this step – attend an antenatal class.
16. Invest in a exercise ball and practice your circular movements, this will be a life saver during labour and most facilities now have these balls in all labour rooms.
17. Practice perineum massage.
18. Educate yourself with the various birthing positions.
19. Do some belly dancing, it strengthens your pelvic floor as well your abdominal muscles. It may also encourage your baby into optimal position for labour. What’s more dancing releases the happy feels.
20. If you’re birthing in a facility (birthing home or hospital) then do a tour, this will help ease the emotions when the place is familiar.
21. Educate yourself on mother led pushing vs staff led pushing. Work with your birthing team, also include this in your birth day wish list. Mother led pushing; less stress for baby, potential less pelvic floor damage, you are in control as you listen to your body, reduces the risk of vacuum or forceps being used.
Let’s build a culture of women birthing with confidence, let’s trust our instincts and have the birthing experience we deserve.
You’ve got this Girl!