Plenty of my HypnoBirthing clients ask me what I did to prepare for my own births. As a HypnoBirthing Practitioner I have plenty of knowledge about birth and I also have personal experience having HypnoBirthed all 3 of my children (one hospital birth, 2 home births). As a HypnoBirthing Practitioner, this doesn’t mean that I do nothing or that I just ‘believe’ everything will be great on the day. I actually love the preparation for birth during pregnancy and I’m extremely diligent about preparing my mind, my body, my family and my space for a new baby.
Here are some of the ways in which I prepare for birth:
HypnoBirthing is a birth preparation course; there are plenty of tools and techniques you and your partner will learn that you can use during pregnancy, labour and birth. Choosing which techniques you practice is up to each individual. I always advise that mothers-to-be choose techniques that they feel work best for them, which resonate with them and which they can most readily include into their daily routines. You never know what you will want to use or choose to use on the actual day so having tools and techniques at your disposal will give you options when you are birthing.
Breathing & Relaxation
For me personally (and I also advise this in my classes), breathing and relaxation are key. Breathing into the belly relaxes you, conserves energy, ensures ample oxygen is reaching baby and relaxes the muscles of the uterus – all of which help you in labour and help labour progress. Relaxation is also beneficial in labour, as it conserves energy, helps you pass time, ensures your body and uterine muscles are relaxed and aids in keeping you calm.
So for me, deep breathing into the belly was something I practiced daily, whenever lying down or whenever I found myself waiting (for the kettle, at the traffic lights, for school pick ups – any waiting time was breathing time) and this is how I incorporated it into my day. Relaxation (actively practising relaxation) was somewhat harder with small children around most days so I would practice this at night while drifting off to sleep. The same relaxation track each night, sometimes during the day if I had the chance to have a nap or had 30 minutes to myself.
Feeling safe, secure and supported
Birth isn’t just about what exercises you practice in anticipation of the event. It’s so much more and there are many subtleties that can affect your birth. Take into consideration how you feel about birth in general, how you feel about your upcoming birth, how you feel about the people you have chosen to support you and how you feel about the place you have chosen to birth in.
For me personally and for many women, the environment in which you give birth is key and goes hand-in-hand with the person you have chosen as your care-provider. What is important is that you feel safe, supported and happy with your choices and if you don’t feel this way, make all the possible changes and choices that enable you to feel these things.
Prepare your mind, body, support team and birthing space
This seems like a lot! I managed to incorporate all of these therapies by scheduling one per month then 1-2 per week or whatever I could fit in in the last four weeks.
Pre-natal Yoga or Pilates
Active Birth Workshops
Also just talking about your feelings (fears and hopes) with your tribe of supportive friends, family and care providers can help you delve deeper to resolve any fears and help your support team understand what’s important to you.
Visualise what it is you want for your birth, where are you, who is there and how you feel.
Use positive affirmations and have these posted around the house or as screen savers to remind you.
Create birth music playlists.
Create a birth vision board (mine pictured below).
Create a birth labyrinth
I’m sure there is more I could add to this list and the point is not to overwhelm, just to highlight that preparation is important. Do what you can. I often hear people say, Birth is just one day in your life, it’s what comes after that you need to really prepare for. I disagree. Birth is so much more than one day in your life, it’s a transformative experience, it’s huge, it’s something you will never forget and it will have a significant impact on you. Regardless of what transpires during your birth (natural birth, interventions or a Cesarean birth), it’s important that you feel empowered the whole way through, that you feel safe, secure and supported and that you feel you made all the decisions because this is how we can have a positive birth experience.
Equally important is preparing yourself for your postpartum. My last two births have been relatively easy but I’ve not experienced an easy postpartum period yet, so keep your eyes peeled for my next blog – preparing for your postpartum!
If you’d like more information on HypnoBirthing, Birth Preparation, Pregnancy Sleep or Holistic Sleep Solutions for your babies, please get in touch.
Above photo credit: Minna Burgess