How to create a positive birth experience
Having worked in Birth Education and attending births as a Doula for over 15 years, Lael Stone (founder of About Birth) has seen a distinct theme when it comes to creating a positive birth experience.
A positive birth looks different for all women and Lael's aim as a birth educator is always to help couples achieve their best birth. That, however may look different for all women. For some their idea of a positive birth is choosing an elective Caesarean and for others it is aiming for an intervention free natural birth.
There are many factors at play when it comes to birth and putting in place a few key things can make an enormous difference to your birth and how you feel about your birth outcome. Lael is sharing four points that will help you to feel supported to make choices that feel good for you. And when a woman feels supported and respected in birth then she often feels positive about the whole experience.
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Written by Lael Stone - owner of About Birth.
Safety, Support, Knowledge, and Energy:
SAFETY When we talk about Safety, we are talking about doing whatever it takes for you to feel safe. Of course health of you and your baby are at the top of the list of priorities, but helping a mother feel safe in her environment can make an enormous difference to her labour.
As we are Mammals, we are hardwired to respond to our bodies when we don't feel safe in our environment. Our bodies can often shut down or make large amounts of adrenalin to support a fight or flight mechanism. This can either stop labour completely or make it more painful as we are on high alert.
When a woman feels safe in labour she will relax and usually allow her body to do what it's designed to do as her hormones can now work to the best of their ability. Oxytocin is often inhibited when a woman is on high alert ( this is the hormones that make contractions). It will often flow when a woman is feeling safe and secure.
Choosing a place to give birth that you feel safe in, makes an enormous difference. Whether that be at home, in a birth centre or in a hospital. Each woman is different and each woman has to choose what is right for her.
SUPPORT Support is all about feeling that team around you is on the same page as you and are invested in you achieving the birth you desire. This also contributes to you feeling safe.
It is imperative that you choose care providers that are aligned with what you want. If you are desiring a natural birth, but choosing to have a doctor that believes strongly in interventions and drugs, then that is not a good fit for what you are wanting. If you are aspiring to have a vaginal birth, but the hospital you choose has a 55% caesarean rate - that may not be the place for you.
It also applies to the people you bring with you to the birth. If you have extra support but they don't know how to support you or bring a lot of fear to the process, then they are also not a good fit for your support team.
This is where outsourcing support to a professional Doula or Midwife can be a great option, as they are very skilled at supporting labouring women and will also provide the continuity of care that many women crave.
You will have a hospital Midwife looking after you on the day, but in most cases this will be a woman that isn't known to you and sometimes personalities can clash. Your Midwife may not have the same ideals as you for your birth.
And even though most partners are expected to be there to support a woman in labour, they can often feel a great deal of pressure to know what to do. For most partners, they have never given birth before, are not medically trained and are also completely hooked into the woman birthing, so it can be tricky to be objective and hold women through a crisis of confidence in normal birth.
That's why we often recommend getting good support around you - a known person to you who understands birth and can support you in your wishes.
KNOWLEDGE Long gone are the days that we lived in the community and would see our cousins, sister and aunts give birth. These days the first experience of childbirth for most women is when they are in labour or if we take our information off the television, then we believe that all birth is dangerous and extremely painful.
Getting some good education around birth not only helps you make choices that feel good for you but also teaches you ways to work with your body and helps to normalise the process of birth. This in turn alleviates fear and helps you feel more confident about the whole process.
Especially learning extra skills like breathing and relaxation techniques and doing independent birth education so you understand what normal birth is all about and ways to work with your body.
ENERGY When people ask me what is the magic ingredient for a positive birth - then I always answer - Love! When a woman feels loved in labour and when the energy is relaxed and calm, she can often cope with whatever is unfolding. We may not have control over how the baby chooses to come out - but we do have control over what energy we bring to the birth.
Some of the most beautiful births I have attended have been Caesarean births with so much calm and connection between the parents. No matter how you choose to give birth - you get to decide on the energy you are bringing to the experience.
So love it up - stay connected as a couple and bring all the good vibes for when you meet your baby.
Online Birth education or face to face Calmbirth Classes.
Business owner: Lael Stone
Fav café: Frank and Ginger
Coffee order: Nah - don't drink coffee - love a chai though.
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