Words by Christy
Some people may argue that you don’t need to prepare for birth as it is a natural process that your body just gets on with. Others don’t give the birth much thought at all, simply trusting their bodies to know what to do when the time comes. Perhaps decorating the nursery, organising baby’s first outfit and contemplating life with a newborn is higher on the priority list. Each of these viewpoints are of course, completely valid and right. My question is, is there more to labour than biology?
I think of labour (and birth) as a rite of passage. Literally for the baby of course, on their journey from the womb to life on the outside and all that brings but more so for the woman labouring. It’s more than delivering a baby safely - how often do you hear, “Baby is here safely and that’s all that matters”, well it does matter, Mum matters and her experience matters. Safety of the baby is paramount to the parents but the mother’s experience is right up there on the ‘need’ list because the experience of birth and how she feels about it will set the tone for her motherhood. How the birth goes could set her up for motherhood feeling empowered, confident and joyful or sadly, disempowered, out of control, incapable and robbed of the birth she emotionally needed. That rite of passage is a big deal and mustn’t be underestimated, she is transitioning from woman to mother, and mother to new mother (of another person) and she’ll never forget it. Those few (relative) hours of transition changes her (physically and emotionally) and brings her into a new stage of her life.
So how do we treat the occasion of labour and birth with the reverence, importance and dignity it deserves? We make it personal, literally. Start with your birth space whether that be the delivery suite or your living room. Put your photos and positive statements on the walls to keep you focused on the end goal and emotionally connected to your baby during the surges. Keep your space as atmospheric as you can with soft lighting and positive/calming/uplifting music that helps you feel good.
Let your birth partner support you. They can protect your birthing space from unexpected intrusions (it can really disrupt your birthing rhythms) and keep your space safe, calm and quiet. With our maternity system unable to provide a midwife who supports us from early pregnancy through to the birth, our birth partners can be our constant and that support is often underestimated. Lean on them (physically if you need to) and emotionally, share that experience.
Finally, if we consider our choices and make the necessary decisions ahead of time we are ensuring our navigation through the maternity system is as easy as possible. Plan for our best birth! By preparing, getting informed about how amazing and capable our bodies are in birth and knowing your rights in the maternity system, it’s a valuable, empowering and confidence building process.
So what do we need for a smooth transition into motherhood? A positive experience? Definitely. A joyful experience? Ideally. A celebrated experience? Yes yes yes! And a little preparation can go a long way to ensure you get it.