There is so much you can to prioritise a straightforward birth during your pregnancy. This is about preparing well, thinking about your options and knowing what could make a difference to you during labour and birth.
As a practitioner who has worked with expectant parents for many years, I know how essential it can be to enhance your knowledge with realistic birth preparation. Being better prepared for straightforward birth also means you are then better prepared if it becomes more complicated.
Labour and birth can be unpredictable and straightforward can not be guaranteed but there is strength in being better prepared and not leaving it all to chance. And personalising your birth preparation so it is tailored to you.
Don’t leave it to chance
Everyone prepares for labour differently – some people read everything and attend every group, others just want to deal with it as it happens. There isn’t really a right way to do this but I have lost count of the number of new parents who have said “I wish I knew…” about what some of the things they could do for themselves in labour.
If you can be informed about all types of birth – not just your ideal birth – then you are better prepared and equipped for decisions, options and being involved.
Read well and work with an experienced birth practitioner
Lots of people are passionate about birth and they want to be an expert – while that can be helpful, it might not be enough to just be given information. It can be more effective to be encouraged to think about what you want, what you might need, being able to remain calm, to work with contractions, to say what you need and to be at the centre of your care.
Straightforward Birth: Know what can help and what you might need
In its simplest form, the physiology of labour and birth is all about hormones.
Labour loves a calm environment where everyone is calm, where women feel safe, supported and able, where oxytocin, cortisol and endorphins can work to move your baby, to open you body and to give you natural pain relief.
Labour and birth can be helped by breathing and movement so you are as calm and as comfortable as possible, so you can work with your contractions and do what feels right for you.
Straightforward Birth: Know more about what can interfere with labour and birth
Where there is pressure, lack of support, the closing down of options, noise, lack of privacy and fear, labour and birth can slow or stop or contractions can be harder to deal with.
Use positions in pregnancy
Not only will this help you to be more comfortable during your pregnancy, it means that different positions and using a birth ball becomes more familiar so you are more likely to know what feels right for you.
And it is about doing it every day in your third trimester rather than just in a yoga class – build it into your life so it becomes positive habit.
Use your breathing throughout pregnancy
You can also build a really beneficial habit during your pregnancy, where you learn to focus on your breathing everyday. Focusing on your breathing, even just for a couple of minutes at a time, can help with stress & anxiety, with aches and discomfort. It can boost your ability to relax and it can even boost your energy.
And then you have robust relaxation and breathing skills to use throughout labour and birth – to help keep you calm and focused, to boost your hormones, to help you work with your contractions.
Find our more about Relax & Breathe
Talk to your birth partner
Your birth partner is an important part of your birth preparation, as well as your labour and birth support – they need to know what to expect, what you need and what their role could be.
Think about effective coping strategies
It can be really helpful to plan for how you might manage the discomfort/pain of contractions, along with the tiredness that can feature as part of labour and birth. What might you need, what’s going to help.
You might also think about how you might manage any changes to your ideal birth or if you experience any lack of support – what could you do and what might you need?
Prepare to be involved in your care
You have a say in your care so it can be helpful to think about whether you need more information, do you need to ask questions, do you understand your options.
Even when labour and birth requires medical intervention, it is most probably not an emergency situation and options will be available. It just might be down to you to ask about them.
Gather information and know more about your options
To wrap this up I want to bring it back to knowledge. You don’t have to know everything – the basics are truly enough, along with an understanding of going with your instincts, saying what you need, asking questions so you know your options, so you understand and so you are involved. This foundation will then equip you for straightforward birth, as well as handling any challenges.
Being educated and better prepared might not mean that labour is straightforward but it can make a huge difference to how you make decisions and whether you can be assertive and are able to stay calm.
The Birth & Baby Blog – where you can read and talk about pregnancy, birth, babies and early parenting
Pregnancy | Birth Preparation | Labour & Birth | New Baby | Feeding | Babyloss & Grief | Breathing Space | The Being Mum Project