Five Ways to Achieve a Positive Birth by Gina Potts
Is a positive birth possible? What does having a 'positive' even mean? How can birth be positive when the majority seem to believe birth to be a painful ordeal to be endured?
Having a positive birth is not necessarily about a candlelit homebirth with whale music playing. It could be, of course, if that is your choice. However, any birthing situation and circumstances can become a positive experience if you understand what is happening, what your options are and that you always have a choice. Choice is the essential part of having a positive birth. Choosing the birth that is right for you on the day. It is also about preparation so that on the day you can make confident, informed choices. This helps you feel much more in control, and ready to call the shots, whatever happens during your labour and baby's birth.
So, to achieve a positive birth that is right for you, and to avoid the negativity that seems to be associated with childbirh, there are simple things you can do to help empower yourself and prepare for the birth you want.
5 Ways to Achieve a Positive Birth
1. Acknowledge your Amazing Birthing Body
Your body is designed to do this. Everything about how the female body transforms throughout pregnancy to help baby develop and to prepare you for physically birthing your baby is done without you having to put in conscious effort. It happens naturally because your body is perfectly designed to do this. Your hormones change to grow your baby, to accomodate your changing shape, to stretch, to open and to birth.
If you need help acknowledging your amazing birthing body, listen to positive birth affirmations. These can really help you confidence. You can get a lovely free recording of empowering birth affirmations by signing up for my free hypnobirthing taster to your inbox.
2. Know Your Options
Educating yourself about labour and birth can increase your confidence and help you learn about all your options. This will ensure you can make informed decisions that are right for you and baby. So, get reading. There are many great books about pregnancy and birth, about the physiological process of labour and birthing, and more. Here are a few suggested titles:
- Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
- The Hypnobirthing Book by Katharine Graves
- Childbirth without Fear by Grantly Dick-Read
- Men, Love and Birth by Mark Harris (great read for dads/birth partners)
It's also a great idea to learn about your local maternity services, antenatal care, pregnancy and new baby care. The NHS is a good place to start, plus the Association for Improvements in Maternity Services (A.I.M.S.) offers an excellent range of information and resources to help you understand procedures, policies, how maternity should work, what your rights are, as well as providing support when making challenging decisions.
It's also a good idea to search your area for local birth professsionals than can help you: hypnobirthing teachers, doulas, independent midwives, and others offering pregnancy yoga, massage, reflexology and other services.
3. Learn Birthing Techniques
Enrol on an antenatal course that teaches great birthing techniques. No matter what kind of birth you are having, an antenatal course with an experienced instructor who can show you breathing, relaxation, massage, active birthing techniques and more can really help. Hypnobirthing courses include all the anatomy, physiology and practical stuff (like choosing your birth place, knowing your options, writing birth preferences and things you'll need for labour itself, etc) plus, a great range of tools, techniques, self-hypnosis, positions, tips for birth companions physically and emotionally supporting you, and much more. Breathing is super important to aid feelings of relaxation and control in pregnacy, labour and for the birth. In fact, relaxation breathing techniques help anytime in your life, everyday.
4. Practice and Prepare
So, now that you've done your reading and learned lots of useful stuff on your antenatal course, it's time to pratice the tools and techniques you've learned and get ready. Organising all the practical stuff (packing your birth bag, writing your birth preferences, etc) and being prepared will definitely help you feel more relaxed and ready. Practicing your birthing tools and techniques is essential and the more you practice the more mentally and physically prepared you'll feel for whatever turn your birthing takes.
5. Relax and Be Patient
The last thing to do is just relax and be patient. Remember, baby will come when baby is ready. So, if you are well and baby continues to be healthy and well, there are many important reasons why Patience is a Virtue in Birth. One of the biggest stress factors towards the end of the pregnancy is the due date approaching, arriving, and probably passing. Normal human gestatation is 37-42 weeks. Only about 4% of babies are born on their due date. And most babies tend to come by the time mum reaches 41 weeks. Your due date is only an estimate. Your Due Date is not a Deadline, as the video below explains.
So relax, be patient and treasure the last few weeks and days of pregnancy. I hope you enjoy an empowering, joyful and positive birth experience. Good luck!
Gina Potts is Director of ZenBirth UK. She comes from an academic research background, focusing on women's history, writing and feminism. Since 2009 has spent much of her time researching into all aspects of maternity care, pregnancy, birth and women’s postnatal health. In 2011, she founded ZenBirth and has helped hundreds of couples have a positive birth experience.