Plenty of my HypnoBirthing clients ask me what I did to prepare for my own births. Yes, I have plenty of knowledge and personal experience (3 babies) of birth but as a HypnoBirthing Practitioner, this doesn’t mean that I do nothing or that I ‘believe’ everything will be great on the day. I actually love the preparation for birth and I’m diligent about preparing my mind and body, my family and my space for a new baby.
Here are some of the ways in which I prepare for birth:
Obviously, I use HypnoBirthing techniques so for those of you who aren’t aware, HypnoBirthing is a childbirth education course. You and your birthing partner learn plenty tools and techniques to 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 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 deep breathing (surge breathing) into the belly is something I practice daily, whenever lying down or whenever I find myself waiting (for the kettle, at the traffic lights, for school pick ups – any waiting time was breathing time) and this is how I incorporate it into my day. Relaxation (actively practising relaxation) is 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
Preparing for birth isn’t just about practicing breathing, relaxation or other tools and techniques. It’s much, much more and there are many factors (both internal and external to you) that can affect the path your birth takes. It’s therefore super important to 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 that enable you to feel this way.
Prepare your mind and body
This seems like a lot of things to fit in but I usually managed to schedule one per month then in the last four weeks I aimed for 1 per week or whatever I could fit in and afford!
Pre-natal Yoga or Pilates
Active Birth Workshop
Communicate with your birth team
Talking about your feelings (fears and hopes) and what you really want for your birth with your tribe of supportive friends, family and care providers is integral.
They can help you work out whether you need to delve deeper to resolve fears and/or whether you need to seek additional support to do so.
Then you can focus on the positive, visualise your birth, where you are, who is with you in the room and how you feel. Communicate this to your support people, if they know what you want they can help you achieve it and advocate for you during birth.
Prepare your birth space
Put up birth affirmations around the house, behind the toilet door, on your bedroom mirror, on your screen-savers… anywhere you like.
Create birth music playlists, one to get you moving and one to help you stay relaxed and focused. Have your birth relaxation track on a playlist of its own.
Create a birth vision board (mine pictured below). Have this in your labouring space while you’re at home then if you are transferring to hospital you can take it with you by taking a photo of it or by having it on a cork board or small whiteboard that can be easily carried.
Create a birth labyrinth
I’m sure there is more I could add to this list but the point is not to overwhelm, be prescriptive or to suggest this way works for everyone. It is designed to provide you with ideas, suggestions and to highlight that preparation is important – whatever that looks like for you.
I often hear people say that 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 a huge event and it is something you do that will stay with you always. It can have a significant impact on you, your relationship with your partner and your baby. Regardless of what transpires during your birth (natural birth, interventions or a Cesarean birth) the point of preparation and education is to empower you so that you can ask questions and make decisions in order to feel safe and secure in your ability to birth and the team you have chosen to support you.
If you’d like more information on HypnoBirthing or birth preparation, please get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org
Above photo credit: Minna Burgess