1. Know Your Options
It’s all in the preparation! You don’t know what you don’t know. Educate yourself and decide on your preferences. The power of a birth plan isn’t the plan itself – it’s the process of becoming educated. This will empower you and your birth partner to be active participants, rather than having birth as something that happens to you.
2. Calming Environment
When a mother feels safe and loved, she can more easily open up and allow birthing hormones to be released; and keep stressor hormones at bay. A realm of peace can be created at home, a birthing centre or in a hospital. You may wish to keep lights dimmed (or candles), have your own pillow, soft music or familiar items that help you to feel safe and supported.
3. Conscious breathing
Deep, slow, diaphragmatic breaths during the first stages of labour not only helps to create a calm mind, but it also helps to oxygenate the uterus for efficient surges, all while keeping bubs happy. Nasal breathing is particularly beneficial as it stimulates the para-sympathetic nervous system to help keep stressor hormones away.
During the second stage, or ‘pushing’ stage, use your instincts! It may help to make some noise, pushing energy down can further open the birth canal.
4. Stay positive & keep a calm mind
This is more achievable if you have tools handy at your disposal! It will assist in creating a peaceful environment, and help you feel in control even if your birthing journey takes a turn. Affirmation boards and visualisations are great tools, as are self-hypnosis techniques. Remember – it’s ok if you lose your calm, you can get it back!
5. Birth support partner
Choose wisely! Their role is to keep you feeling safe and loved, and to speak on your behalf when you are busy birthing your baby.. This will allow you to ‘zone out’ and retreat into yourself, allowing birth hormones to take over.
6. Upright positioning during labour
Avoid lying down if possible. Use gravity to help bubs down the birth canal – leaning on a bed, bench, your partner, a couch, over a birth ball, standing in the shower, squatting, on all fours. Sway your hips and dance if it feels good. Get creative! This will help increase the size of your pelvis, while movement will help your baby in their journey into the world.
Trust your body knows how to birth your baby. You’ve done the preparation, now it’s time to surrender control of the outcome and let nature take over. Should the birth take a turn, you have the knowledge and confidence to ask questions, and you are empowered to trust your instincts. You are strong. You’ve got this!