Birth is a spontaneous natural event which is unpredictable but with the right ‘toolkit’, good support, and an open mind-set, birth can be a positive and beautiful experience whatever happens on the day.
“A positive birth means a birth in which a woman feels she has freedom of choice, access to accurate information, and that she is in control, powerful and respected. A birth that she approaches, perhaps with some trepidation, but without fear or dread, and that she then goes on to enjoy, and later remember with warmth and pride.” The Positive Birth Movement
A key way to feel empowered and have freedom of choice is to understand those choices both natural and medical. Have your partner understand them too. It’s also reassuring to read other people’s positive birth stories and learn how well a woman’s body is designed to give birth in order to build trust in the natural process.
2) Let go of Fear
Fear causes the fight/flight response in the body. Fear increases adrenalin which lowers or even blocks the birth hormones especially oxytocin. It also causes pain. It was Dr Dick Read who famously promoted the understanding of the ‘fear = tension = pain’ cycle during labour.
Working with a hypnotherapist, hypnobirthing practitioner or other specialist will help you let go of fears around birth if you are unable to do it on your own.
3) Learn to relax
Relaxation ‘tools’ are empowering as you learn how to control emotions and even sensations in your body. Practicing relaxing your body helps you build a sense of control and confidence in your own ability to cope plus helps it become second nature.
Relaxation in pregnancy also offers a mum time to tune into her body and bond with their baby both of which have been proven to build her confidence for birth.
Relaxation tools include: visualisations, Emotional Freedom Technique, Mindfulness, rhythmic movement, aromatherapy and massage
4) Practice breathing
The number one tool I found helped me through labour was learning to breathe properly and deeply.
Your baby and uterus need oxygen during labour but also breathing deeply turns on the relaxation response in the brain. During the most challenging moments, the easiest thing to come back to is focusing on your breathing.
The concept is the same whether you use yoga or hypnobirthing breathing – Keep the oxygen flowing, to keep the birth hormones flowing and to stay relaxed.
5) Movement & gravity
A baby’s position in the womb can greatly impact how smoothly a birth is able to progress. The Spinningbabies.com website echos Jean Sutton’s teaching on Optimum Foetal Position or OFP and the need for balance within the body to encourage a good position.
Gravity is also your friend in labour!
Look for pregnancy movement classes which use yoga movements or which teach Active Birth.
Here are just a few recommendations for further reading:
- Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
- Hypnobirthing: The Breakthrough to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Childbirth, Marie Mongan
- Secrets of Confident Childbirth by Janay Alexander, Jackie Fletcher and Vanessa Turner
- The Gentle Birth Method by Dr. Gowri Motha
Happy Birthing x
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