How can you feel better prepared for labour and birth? Do you feel ready for contractions? To manage tiredness? To ask questions, to say what you need and to be involved in any decisions?
No two births are the same and your need for information, support and reassurance can vary. As a practitioner who has worked with expectant parents for almost 20 years, I passionately believe in good education for all births – not just your ideal birth.
Only 27% of labours are currently without any intervention so effective birth preparation can be around knowing more about what to expect, knowing more about your options and how to manage if labour becomes more complicated.
To become better prepared for labour and birth it is worth considering a few questions…
1. Do you feel confident about working with your contractions?
You could have 400 contractions as part of your labour and birth so it makes a huge difference to know more about what to expect as well as how you can manage and work with them.
Contractions need to be intense and powerful, they have a job to do so it is important to know more about them, how to work with them and how to manage them.
2. Do you know what your body needs to do to bring you your baby?
This knowledge underpins how you work with your body and your contractions.
It helps to know what you might need during labour and birth, how you can listen to your body to go with what feels right for you.
3. Do you know how to use your breathing to stay calm and focused?
Relax & Breathe techniques can be essential in enhancing your ability to deal with any panic or overwhelm, as well as pain and discomfort.
4. Do you feel confident about using movement & positions?
Knowing more about using movement and different positions, along with using them during your pregnancy, means you are in a stronger position during labour and birth.
You are more likely to feel confident about using positions in labour if they familiar, so pregnancy is the time to move about, to use a birth ball and find alternatives to sitting in a chair.
5. Do you know what birth support might be helpful?
Birth partners need birth preparation as well – this can enhance the support they can provide as well as boost their confidence. It can make a difference to do some birth preparation together and to discuss what you might need and what they can do?
6. Do you know what could be helpful to you during labour?
Having a more strategic approach can help you to be better equipped to look after yourself and to meet your needs in labour and birth.
This comes back to knowing how labour works, what can help your labour progress and what can help you feel as calm, safe and comfortable as possible.
7. Do you know what could be unhelpful during labour?
It is also helpful to know what could be unhelpful to you and your labour, what can affect how calm, comfortable and safe you feel as well as what could impact how well labour is able to progress.
8. Are you anxious or worried about any aspect of labour and birth?
It is crucial to be honest about any concerns you have – talking them through, having a better understanding and have some kind of action plan can make a big difference.
These essentials can help you to feel comfortable, calm and better able to work with your contractions and to do birth, however your baby needs to
Being educated about birth is important so you know your options and so you can keep gathering the information you need to keep yourself at the centre of your care. With a calm and knowledgeable approach, my aim is informed and confident parents.
Janine Smith | A specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting