Happy birth day
11:27 (GMT+2), Mon, 17 October 2011
Your hospital bag is packed, the nappies are stocked and all the babygros are neatly folded. And yet how prepared are you to give birth? There are hundreds of lists and tips about birth choices, what to buy, what to pack and what to wear, but there isn’t much information on how to ready yourself emotionally, and how to have the best birth experience possible. Here are five ways that could change your big day for the better.
1. Be open to change
Birth plans are great, but when things don’t go according to plan due to medical reasons, moms are sometimes left scared, disappointed and angry. Change is a constant, and sometimes doctors and midwives will make a decision based on your specific case and method of birth. We’re not saying ditch the birth plan or panic that things won’t go exactly as you wish – often they are fulfilled. What we’re advising is to open yourself to the possibility of change. Knowing in advance that things may be completely different to how you planned, is important in having a positive birth experience.
Real story: Tamara, 30, had planned a natural birth with her long-time gynae. “I went into labour a week early and my doctor was away on conference. Not only was it difficult to get my head around the fact that my trusted, familiar doctor wasn’t at my side, but after only a five-hour labour, my baby was in distress and I needed to have a C-Section. I was devastated and it set me off on a rocky few days, since I was unprepared for a new face, and a new method of birth. I know that if I’d gotten my head around something different beforehand, I’d have had a much better birth experience. I was completely unprepared for change.”
2. Don’t lose focus
It’s so normal to worry about what Baby will wear in hospital, or whether you have enough wipes. But it’s easy to lose focus of the main point – that you’re going to give birth to your baby, and how wonderful this actually is. Many moms wish they hadn’t “sweated the small stuff” and instead targeted their energy on the joy and miracle of a new baby. It’s normal to worry and be scared, but try to pour your energy into being as calm, happy and excited as possible, and focusing on the “big stuff”. You can always buy more wipes, or ask your partner to fetch another babygro from home.
3. Keep calm, and keep your humour
We know this is a tough one, especially when there are needles, contractions and pain, plus all the anxiety about delivering a healthy baby. But it’s said that “attitude determines altitude”, and being a little calmer could change your birth experience for the better.
Real story: Tumi, 28, says that when she had her water birth, and was in immense pain, she used humour to take the edge off. “I joked about my thighs, and asked my husband, who was photographing the birth, whether he would Photoshop
my cellulite! It was really funny and took the edge off. It also calmed me down and gave me an even better birth experience.”
4. Ditch the worrying
We know – telling a pregnant woman not to worry is like telling a baby not to cry. It’s normal and even “healthy”, but when it gets to the point that it overrides everything else, then it’s time to try and cut back. Find out as much as possible about your birth to allay your fears, speak to someone who can help, or try a few relaxation exercises. Worrying severely could ruin your birth experience entirely, as you might not be able to focus on the positive aspects of birth.
5. Forget all the drama stories
For every good birth story, it seems there are about five horror ones – people seem to love telling us the dramatic stories of prem babies, diarrhoea on the delivery table, or emergency procedures. Our advice? Block out the stories and try not to think that your birth could be “one of those”. Concentrating on horror stories only adds fuel to birth anxiety – something we don’t need!