A positive birth experience is an individual concept. It will mean different things to different people. For some, it might be how pain is managed, or it might be more important to have a certain kind of support, for others, it might be all about feeling in control of what is happening. This isn’t about how the baby is born, whether you have a caesarean or a natural birth isn’t what makes it positive or negative. What matters is how you felt on the day, and the ability to look back with no regrets. Even when things don’t go to plan, it can still be a positive experience. Here are 5 things that will increase your chances.
1. Feel Safe
We believe Feeling Safe is one of the fundamental elements of a positive birth experience. When a woman feels frightened, her experience of pain increases. Pain in the presence of fear leads to a feeling of suffering.
However, when a woman understands that what she is experiencing is normal and necessary for the baby to be born, she feels safe. This leads to a lovely flow of labour hormones that reduce the sensation of pain as well as assisting the labour to progress more quickly.
There are several components to ‘Feeling Safe’, one of them is understanding what you are afraid of.
2. Talk About Your Fears
The best way to deal with fear is to understand
- what it is you are afraid of
- what you can do to reduce the chance of it happening
- how your Health Care Providers can help you address it
- what will you do if it actually happens
By working with your Health Care providers, they can help you take an individualised approach to whatever it is you are concerned about. They can help you with strategies to minimise the chance of it happening. Let’s take the example of ‘What if I can’t cope with labour’…
For a start, your preparation for birth might look at the different strategies you would like to use to manage contractions, These might include positions, water, heat or pharmacological pain relief.
Then, Talk to your Health Care Providers about different things that you might like to use at different times so they understand what’s important to you. Tell them what it is that you are really afraid of so they can help you work out a good plan of action.
Communicate this plan with your support person or partner, so that if you get to the point where you feel out of control, or you’re not coping, you have a planned strategy to help at this point. The strategy might vary, you might want to use a particular breathing technique, you might ask for an epidural, you might want Gas and Air… it doesn’t matter what you choose, so long as it helps you in that moment.
3. Trust in Your Health Care Providers
When choosing a Health Care Provider it is important they are aligned with how you envisage being cared for during pregnancy, labour and birth. A good way to check this is to ask them if they support the things that are important to you as early as possible. For example, if you know you would like a water birth, but the hospital doesn’t have a bath, then that won’t work!
In Australia, we are fortunate to have Women Centred Care as a guiding philosophy for maternity care. Our midwives, obstetricians, GPs and other Health Care Professionals have your best interests at heart, so with good communication you should be able to work together for the best possible outcome. These professionals see thousands of women with all kinds of individual circumstances, so they are well trained, highly skilled clinicians who want the best for you.
4. Understand Your Options
If you are someone who has a higher level of complications or risks associated with your pregnancy, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or some other health complication, you are not going to have the same choices as someone who doesn’t.
To be in that lovely, calm birth zone in labour, you need to be prepared and know what your options are in advance. By doing this, you can possibly avoid long conversations about your options, and are less likely to be surprised by a recommendation from your Health Care Provider when you are in advanced labour and having strong contractions.
Being prepared means you don’t have to think, you can just be in the moment and let those labour hormones flow.
5. Trust Your Body/The Process
Giving birth is something a woman’s body is designed to do. Our bodies are amazing, it is phenomenal how we can grow, birth and nurture our children.
At every stage of pregnancy and labour, there are hormones, muscles and natural instincts that are working together outside of your awareness, preparing your body for birth.
By being prepared, and having a good understanding of your choices, trusting yourself and trusting the people around you, you will be helping mother nature do what she does best and give you that positive birth experience you are after!
Our Online Antenatal Programs for women with Higher risk pregnancies are designed to help women have a positive birth experience. Currently we have two available, Preparing for labour with Gestational Diabetes and Preparing for a VBAC.
As always, we wish you all the best.
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