This beautiful picture – just look at that post-birth glow which I envy – shows Milli Hill, founder of the Positive Birth Movement, who gave birth a few days ago. These were her words about the birth of her baby…
In spite of being such a public advocate of ‘positive birth’, birth was not a bowl of cherries for me! I wasn’t calm and confident the whole time, or quiet. Often I was quite overwhelmed and scared. A few times I cried, and a few times I was pretty convinced that I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to share that – and stress that positive birth and positive birthers come in all different guises. However, in spite of tears and fears, I did it!
And NOW I feel like a goddess / warrior / wonder woman!
I love this – this is the reality of birth and, to me, it describes birth beautifully. Childbirth isn’t easy, we have to work hard, we have to dig deep, we have to feel strong and we need strong, supportive and encouraging people by our side so we can keep going. We need to feel safe so we can let our body do what it needs to do to birth our baby.
It can be a tough journey – some women want to and can do this with little or no pain relief, others will need a cocktail of drugs as labour progresses – and that is why labour is unique for every woman. The intensity of labour, of our emotions and the power of our contractions, can be frightening, it can make us doubt ourselves, it can make us feel panic, anxiety, fear, distress and pain. This is all normal but we need to know it’s normal and we need to know what is happening in our body, we need support throughout to help us if we feel scared and vulnerable, we need knowledge of what relief is available and we need to possess skills to head off any panic and to stay as calm and in control as possible. We also need these skills and support if we need medical assistance – sometimes labour doesn’t go the way we wanted it to despite all our plans and preparations and we need more pain relief or medical intervention. New mums have told me they are glad they knew they could use their breathing when things got tough – it meant they could stay calm, communicate and be involved in decisions, it kept things positive.
I write this, not just as an antenatal teacher but as a mother of three who has experienced the unique rawness of giving birth. I have had three positive births but I wouldn’t describe them as easy – there were challenges and, at times, they were really tough and I had to dig deep but I had fantastic support from my husband and from some brilliant midwives so I felt safe, supported and empowered.
Prepare yourself as best you can for this journey – to believe in yourself and in your ability to birth, so you can be assertive, so you know more about what helps and what support you might need. Take control and read well, talk about it, ask questions and equip yourself with some good, positive knowledge and skills to feel better prepared for and confident about the birth of your baby.