Why where you give birth really matters!

Words by Sophie

One of the most important things that you can do to prepare for the birth of your baby is to think about your birth environment. It is SO important to choose the place that makes YOU feel safe. You may want to be surrounded by familiar people and things so that you can relax and feel calm. If you plan and think about how you can achieve this beforehand you will be able to visualise your amazing birth and let your birthing body take over resulting in the best birth for you! 

Here in the UK, there are three places women can choose to give birth in, Home, Birth Centre/Midwife Led Unit and the Hospital. We ALL have the right to choose where we give birth to our babies and it is important when deciding to consider where you will feel most secure, safe and relaxed. 

When we are birthing our babies we want to be relaxed, calm and so able to focus and create loads of Oxytocin which will allow our birthing muscles to work optimally. Most of us struggle if their are strangers coming in and out, loud talking or bright lights. We find it easier when we feel we are in a private, unobserved space free of danger and fear. Michel Odent states that we need the same environment in which we made the baby to birth the baby. If we were having sex and someone switched the lights on, started talking loudly about what we were doing wrong and started moving us around we would stop having sex! It is exactly the same with birth. If a birthing women feels threatened her body will create adrenaline and which will inhibit the creation of Oxytocin and slow or stop labour.

You may think, well all this rules me out then as I am planning to birth out of my home. How can I ever feel like I am in a familiar, unobserved space when I am not at home but do not worry this needn't be the case. You can take familiar things with you and you are totally free to change the lighting, control who is in the room and how your caregivers will act when they care for you. We should also consider the role of the birth partner. They can be the most amazing support as your advocate and gatekeeper. And are vital to keeping your birth environment as you want it to be. 

Most of the work you do to achieve a calm, positive and gentle birth is carried out before the actual event. Your preparation, relaxation practice and learning about how your birthing body works all gives your body the best chance in allowing you to birth your baby as nature intended on the day. 

Here are some tips for you to consider:

  • To help to create a calm and peaceful environment dimmed lights are perfect for keeping relaxed and feeling unobserved just what is needed to create the hormones you need to birth calmly and gently. You can use battery powered candles and fairy lights birth at home and in the MLU or Hospital. 
  • Scout out the options! If you visit and consider all your options you can visualise your birth space which will reduce worry on the day. Learning the car journey, if you go from home, or how long the pool takes to fill, if you are at home, ensures you have nothing to think about when in labour other than birthing your baby.
  • If going to hospital or MLU you can bring cushions and blankets from home. Your smell will be on these, familiar house smells which will trigger relaxation and calm a lot more than the smells of the hospital. You can use these to stay relaxed and calm for the car journey as well.
  • Create a calming and relaxed playlist. You can use any music here that keeps you calm! You can play these out loud or listen on headphones. 
  • Do not clock watch! Take them all down, you want to be able to zone out and relax. This will be harder if you are watching the clock! 
  • Use your birth plan (we help with this on our course) to ensure your birth partner and midwife knows exactly what you want and so you do not have to make decisions unless you have to on the day. Your birthing partner can advocate for you and ensure that everyone respects your choices. They can make the room how you have envisioned and keep the room calm and your caregivers respectful of your wishes. You can also ensure that you are left as uninterrupted as possible, this is very important as you are staying in deep relaxation to ensure your body works as nature intended free from the worries our thinking minds let in.