Words by Sophie
One of the most important things you can do for your body, baby and birth is to totally allow the urge to nest. This is a vital part of creating the perfect hormonal balance within your body. You know about hormones, right? Those little messages from your brain that travel through the pathways in your body to let you know how to act, feel, and respond to any situation.
Now this is the incredible bit; this can be real or imagined.
Say you come face to face with a ferocious tiger who has every intention to have you for dinner, your body would react in the same way if this was real or a dream. Amazing right!
In birth this really comes into play, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how well you prepare and understand what your birthing body needs. Any fear or worries, even if these are just imagined, will have a huge effect on how your body responds when you are labouring. This is why it is so important to prepare, plan and, if possible, attend an antenatal course like Hypnobirthing which focuses on, along with many other things, eliminating fear.
When you become aware of the hormones your body creates, and needs for birth: Oxytocin, Melatonin, Prolactin, Endorphins, and Adrenaline. You will see that everything pushes for a dark, quiet, familiar, safe, and unobserved space to birth in.
Other animals do it. A fact that we totally take for granted.
Cats hide themselves away, and halt their labour if they feel threatened. Elephants, too large an animal to hide but very vulnerable to predators when in labour, work as a team. The female elephants gather around the birthing mother to protect her, but they face out so that she feels private and not watched.
Safe, protected and unobserved.
To really understand this we have to think of ourselves as the animals that we are. We bond, love, breed, birth and raise our children because every animalistic instinct in our body tells us that this is what we are made for.
Yes we can think, plan, problem solve, perceive but all of this is actually redundant, and even a hindrance, when we birth.
Planning and preparing your ‘nest’ before the day that your baby comes into the world will help immensely. We are the only species on the planet who make a nest and then leave it to birth. So with that in mind I have put together some ideas for you to use to help make a safe, quiet and unobserved space. You can use these regardless of whether you choose (or baby chooses) to birth at home, in a birth centre, Midwife Led Unit or hospital.
1. Mood lighting!
Obviously if you are planning to birth at home you have a slight advantage in that you can create this perfectly lit birth space in advance. But it is also totally doable anywhere!
In the Hospital, Birth centre or MLU you will need to use battery or electrical powered fairy lights and candles for health and safety but can take any amount of these in with you! In fact many MLUs have this sorted for you already - some have dimmers or other soft light options.
Get your birth partner to turn the main lights off, stick your mood lights around and voila! Birthing in the daytime? Pack some portable blackout blinds in your birth bag and you can still create the same effect!
2. Volume control!
This is where your birth partner and plan helps again!
Keep everyone who enters your birth space very respectful and quiet. Speaking in low tones will allow you to stay uninterrupted in your birthing zone. Some women even restrict anyone from talking to them during labour unless necessary.
In our courses we suggest your birth partner as a buffer and so that the birthing mother will get any information translated into non medicalised language and from someone they know and love.
3. Crowd control!
You can limit how many people are in the room to only those who are necessary and those who are there do not have to be there all the time.
You will begin your labour, in most cases, in your own home. If you are staying there to birth you can wait before you are joined by a midwife. If you will move to the MLU, Birth centre or Hospital to birth then stay at home for as long as possible! You will then be doing lot of your labouring in a familiar, safe space that you can totally control and will be in as established labour as possible before you travel.
4. Use your smell!
Our ability to smell relates to the parts of our brain that help us to remember and relax and so use this to your advantage!
Use a smell that you love, or find a new one. Put this scent onto a cloth to smell (if you are not sure whether you will love the smell in the moment), you can also put it in a diffuser but be aware that it will fill the room with the smell and sometimes during labour women can change their minds as to what smells they like. A cloth with a few drops on may be a safer bet.
Take items from your home if you are leaving it and the smell of your home travelling with you will help you to feel like you are in a more familiar space.
5. If you are birthing out of the home- think about your journey!
This can be unsettling and can create anxiety (which you do not want when labouring) and so you want to think of ways to make yourself as comfortable as possible.
One thing I recommend is using music on headphones and even closing or covering your eyes so you can breathe deeply, focus on your baby, and more easily zone out the outside world.
When you arrive at your chosen birth space, your birth partner can create your nest and you can relax and adjust to your new space. (A good tip is to visit your chosen birth space beforehand so that it is not a totally unfamiliar place to enter.)
6. Consider where you will birth carefully!
If possible, think about birthing your baby at home. This does not mean that all the tips above do not translate outside the home. Far from it, they are very effective! But obviously by being aware that to create the hormones needed for birth and to help birth progress naturally, calmly, and safely you need to feel safe, relaxed, unobserved, your home lends itself perfectly to this.
Remember, you have, potentially, made the baby here, spent your pregnancy here and then proceeded to nest here.
But if everything about a home birth, even after careful and unbiased research, makes you anxious then this would be counterproductive. You need to consider all, be in possession of the facts, risks, and benefits of all, and then choose where you will feel the most relaxed and safe.
You have totally got this! Happy birthing lovely pregnant Mamas x