Every birth is different and no matter how much you plan, it will usually go a little bit differently to how you’d imagined. However, whether you’re a first time mum or on your second (third or fourth!) pregnancy there are steps you can take to help you prepare mentally and make the experience as positive and stress-free as possible. Read our expert advice below.
MAKE A BIRTH PLAN
Making a birth plan is a way for you to state clearly what you do and don’t want. It’s a way for you to take ownership of a process that can often feel out of our control. Taking back some of the control can help to alleviate some of our fears and stresses about labour. Take the time to think about what kind of birth you want in an ideal world and write it all down into a wishlist. Then make a plan B and plan C. For example, what would you want to happen if you have to have a planned caesarean and also in the case of an emergency caesarean, as they can be very different. Write down a plan for the minutes and hours after birth as well – including details such as whether you want to have skin-to-skin. Then go through your plan with your birthing partner, doula and HCPs and make sure they all understand your needs and any requests that might be different to the ‘norm’.
Staying active during pregnancy can really help you to have an easier birth and also a quicker recovery. Giving birth takes strength and energy and making sure you are physically as well as mentally strong will help you to push your baby out! Walking, swimming, pregnancy yoga and pilates are all brilliant. If you already have little ones at home, it can be tough to find time for exercise, but there are lots of pregnancy-safe YouTube work-out videos that you can do in your living room.
The mind is an incredibly powerful thing. Baby wellness and childcare expert and founder of Babyopathy Angela Spencer says: “It’s our brain that tells us we are in pain, so if we relax our brain, we can help to reduce our pain levels.” Spencer recommends packing some pregnancy-safe essential oils in your hospital bag – such as her ‘Labour Day’ blend. She says: “It does some amazing things; when inhaled directly from the bottle during a contraction. It travels through our olfactory system (sense of smell) straight to the pain receptors in the brain, and it also helps to quieten our thoughts and relax our entire body – so guess what, it means it reduces pain.”
FOCUS YOUR ENERGY
When we’re in pain we tend to tense our muscles (and squeeze our birth partner’s hand really, really tight!). Angela Spencer says: “Tensing our muscles actually increases pain, and also holds all of our energy”. You will need all of your strength for pushing the baby. Angela says: “try not to tense your hands and allow the focus of the energy to go down through your body and push”.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE VIBES
Watching one too many ‘One Born Every Minute’ episodes or listening to a negative birth story can cause a lot of anxiety and fear leading up to your birth. Try to focus on having a positive experience – it can have a huge impact on how it goes on the day. Talk to friends and family who have had happy births and imagine how exciting it will be to meet your little one. You’ve got this mama!
To learn more about preparing for a positive birth experience, visit Babyopathy.
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