By Sophie Fletcher, Mindful Mamma
Sophie Fletcher is a founding member of Mindful Mamma, Doula, Clinical Hypnotherapist and specialist advisor for the National Council for Hypnotherapy on Pregnancy and birth. Her book “The Mindful Mamma Hypnobirthing Book” will be published by Vermillion in 2014. Classes are run across the UK, it’s a one day class to hypnosis and mindfulness for birth. Sophie also does private classes for couple in London and the East Midlands. www.mindfulmamma.co.uk, www.sophiefletcher.co.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org
A friend this week asked if I could signpost them to some articles that could help some people they knew feel a little less afraid of birth. So I searched all my resources for an appropriate article, something that was an overview and that inspired confidence. Importantly something that made them think, “yes I can do this and it’s going to be ok, actually better than ok!”.
So I searched, and I couldn’t believe it. A simple comprehensive blog entry, that was an overview or that focused on building confidence totally eluded me. Don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of fantastic blogs on normal birth, hypnobirthing, home birth, confident birth but they’re a patchwork quilt of specific articles about one tiny part of birth.
If I were considering a normal birth that made me think about the birth with confidence, and helped me to think that it could be different and better than I had imagined, with some basic resources to get me started, I would be unlikely to stumble upon it. I would just feel overwhelmed with all the information.
Seasoned bloggers and natural birth advocates know where to look, but to a mum just beginning her journey who is frightened or apprehensive, and just come across the term normal birth, it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. A haystack that is stuffed full of comments and threads from pregnancy forums, compounding most fears about birth.
So for my Mindful Mamma clients and others who are interested I thought I’d write a condensed resource, a beginner’s guide to normal birth and a springboard into the vast network of information on the internet about how birth can be powerful and amazing.
There are some bullet points to get you thinking, a couple of videos that show you what you can do, and links to blogs and birth stories of mothers that have done it.
- Your body is designed to birth, you CAN do it and do it well. Women birth every moment all over the world about 49,000 babies are born every day and the large majority of those babies are born healthy and well.
- You have choice every step of the way, you can change your midwife, you can choose any hospital you wish, you can choose a homebirth, you can have as many birthing partners as you wish, you can choose to have a vaginal examination or you can choose not to have a vaginal examination, you can choose to have more time, you can choose the birth you want.
- Birth is not the worst pain ever, but fear of pain can make it worse. Some women say they don’t experience pain, others do and find it very intense. I broke my elbow a few years back it was awful, it was constant and it lasted for weeks. If you are contracting over a period of 8 hours 4 mins apart you are perhaps only having contractions for 2 hours. The trick is to remain focused and do a class that teaches you great coping strategies. Many second time mums find it easier, not because their physiology has changed or they ‘know how to do it’, it’s because they lose the fear and they know that they can do it. It’s amazing what we can do when we are in the right mind set.
- Stop watching anything like One Born Every Minute, I find that programme incredibly upsetting sometimes, and find it difficult to get rid of some of those images in my head. I can’t imagine watching it a few weeks before I’m due to deliver.
- Understand the truth about any fears you have during pregnancy, concerns about a big baby, concerns about tearing, or being out of control. Do some research so you can really understand how your body works and take preventative measures or do some good reading. Odds are that you’ll find research that contradicts common pregnancy myths and you’ll feel more confident.
- Learn about how your hormones work, and what your body is designed to do. You’ll learn that the more you let go of your fear, the easier it is to focus and to be in control of your birth.
- Do a good class, hypnosis for birth or yoga or even one of our Mindful Mamma classes. This will build your confidence and help you to see birth in a different way to how it’s generally portrayed in western society, a medial event and helping you stay in control. Even some confidence building Mp3s will help.
- Don’t always believe what you are told, if you don’t want what you are offered there is always an alternative. It’s up to you to ask.
- A cliche I know, but listen to your instincts. We are animals at the end of the day. Animals don’t come with manuals, they instinctively know how to birth.
- Focus on your baby, often forgotten, this is baby’s journey and your journey into motherhood. It’s a labour a love, bringing your baby into the world and into your arms. A good friend recently who is mother to two young boys said “there is too much focus on the birth, when becoming a mother is so much more”.
Links for Normal Birth
- If you are worried about having a big baby visit this Big Babies myth busting website.
- If you are worried about malposition visit this site Spinning Babies which is a great resource.
- Essential reading. I would urge every mum-to-be to read this. Learn the truth about pain during labour, this article Ecstatic Birth, by Dr Sarah J Buckley is a must and helps you understand what your body is doing.
- This site has been going for years and hasn’t changed either! It’s called Home Birth UK but is a superb resource for all things around natural birth. I refer all my clients to this site.
Favourite blogs on normal birth
- This blog, The Midwife Thinking Blog written by a midwife in Australia, gives you great insight into common interventions and why they are not always necessary.
- Milli Hill is a doula and founder of the positive birth movement. Her blog The Mule is a great insight into normal birth within the UK.
Favourite articles on normal birth
- These are articles around specific fears linked to birth that often crop up in classes or common interventions that can change the course of your layout.
- Tearing or needing an episiotomoy - http://midwifeinfo.com/articles/episiotomy-and-how-to-avoid-it
- Breaking of waters – a routine intervention in the UK to speed things up that is important to fully understand http://midwifethinking.com/2010/08/20/in-defence-of-the-amniotic-sac/
- Learn about what induction actually means and why it may not always be the right option.
Find a group near you to connect with others in a positive way:
The positive birth movement have classes all over the UK run by Midwives, doulas and mums. This a great place to meet others before you have your baby and to become more informed.
Two videos of normal birth
Please feel free to add your blog or any other resources that I have missed in the comments section. Or even some reassuring comments for first time mums who may be frightened of birth.