How I’m planning a positive birth
When it comes to the moment they got engaged or their wedding day, people have no problem telling you their happy stories.
EDIT: Positive comments only, please. I understand that birth doesn’t always go to plan no matter how much you prepare but please no negative comments.
“Oh it was a beautiful moment!”
“It was everything I wanted and more!”
So why is it, when it comes to pregnancy, labour and birth, that people immediately rush to tell you their horror stories? It could be someone in your family or a complete stranger on the bus – who also has no problem touching your belly – but suddenly it becomes a negative horror show full of gushing blood and stitches and “the worst pain imaginable”.
It’s all about the pain.
I don’t want that. Of course, nobody wants to go through a negative birth, but I don’t want to look back on that day – the day when a tiny human that is half me and half Nick appears – and feel sad or traumatised.
I can’t speak for other mums-to-be out there, but I see this moment as one that has taken 10 months to prepare for with its ups and downs. Morning sickness, back pain, insomnia and then all those good moments like first scans, first hiccups and first heartbeats. And I want that day to be as happy and positive as humanely possible.
That’s why, this week, I’m joining in with the #PositiveBirthStory Project set up by The Positive Birth Company. Now as I’ve yet to actually birth my small human, I can’t tell my own personal birth story. But what I can do is tell my story of how I’m preparing for that day to be as positive as possible.
When I first found out we were expecting Squeaky B, I, like any other first time mum out there, started to read anything and everything I could. First about pregnancy, secondly about giving birth. And the more I read, the more this word started to appear.
And the more I read, the more it became clear; hypnobirthing is all about understanding the science of birth to work with your body rather than against it to encourage a more natural and smoother birth.
It’s all about re-programming the years and years of conditioning that we’ve had drilled into our brains that birth is painful, traumatic, involves women lying on their back with legs in stirrups, red-faced and screaming. Scary stuff, right?
Hypnobirthing involves changing that and making us realise that all the stuff we see in the movies and on TV is fake and wrong.
Everyone’s birth is different. But that doesn’t mean it has to be anything like the above. If anything it can be an enjoyable and empowering experience. That’s what I want, and that’s why I started hypnobirthing.
As a result of my reading, I decided to download the digital hypnobirthing pack from The Positive Birth Company. Run by Siobhan Miller, it cost me just £35 and gives you all the tools you need to feel empowered and ready for birth.
Now I’m not necessarily the most positive person out there. And this hasn’t necessarily been improved by the miracle of pregnancy. I once spotted that the t-shirt I was wearing wasn’t entirely clean after the wash and I burst into tears like the sky was falling in.
Hashtag ‘Pray for Nick’, everyone.
It’s taking a lot of effort – especially when I keep doing things like washing our bedding with dishwasher tablets – but staying positive about pregnancy is really helping to lift me up. Using positive affirmation cards around the house is slowly but surely helping to retrain my brain into believing that pregnancy is a good thing, no matter how bad my body may be feeling. With Nick’s help, of course.
Is Squeaky kicking so hard it feels like my ribs are going to break? Are they keeping me awake at night? Good – it means they are lively and energetic which are all positive signs.
Is my belly getting so big that I walk into things and struggle to bend down? Good – it means Squeaky is growing well and is on track to be nice and healthy.
As cheesy as it may sound, my body knows exactly what to do here. So I need to let it do its thing.
3. ‘Real life’ births
This is something that is recommended by hypnobirthing, but I actually started doing it without realising. People are more than happy to share their negative birth stories, but thankfully YouTube and blogs have opened up a whole new world for people to share parts of their lives.
We recently went for a tour around one of the birth centres in the area, and one of the biggest things I took away from that visit was the midwife adamantly telling us “do NOT watch ‘One Born Every Minute'”. Honestly, turn it off and get onto YouTube. Type in ‘positive birth story’ or something similar, and you will be hit with hours and hours of real, raw, unedited and un-dramatised footage of real women giving birth at birth centres, hospitals, in water or at home.
Warning; you may cry, but these are tears of happiness. And watching them has done nothing but make me excited for the big day.
One of my favourites to watch is from family vloggers ‘The Michalaks’. The new momma Hannah was actually taught by Siobhan, and it’s one of the most empowering videos I’ve ever seen.
Family and friends are incredibly supportive during pregnancy, but there are two people who have stood out for me on my journey so far.
The first is, as you may expect, my mum. She checks in on me every day. She asks about Squeaky every day but never fails to ask about me too. She checks in on my mental health and back pain, and even looks things up herself when I have questions.
She’s a good egg.
And secondly is Nick. Nick has taken to the role of birth partner like it’s his new career move. He may have gone through this before, but he’s not relying on ‘past knowledge’ to get him through these 9 months. He’s bought books, he’s read up on each trimester and what to expect from me – hence his endless patience with my crying and doughnut cravings – and now sits watching every hypnobirthing video with me.
If I tell him I’m anxious, he directs me towards calming breathing and positive thinking. When the midwife mentioned ‘pain’ a few more times than I would have liked in our 31 week appointment, he smoothly stepped into the conversation with “but every surge brings us closer to meeting our baby” – almost word-for-word from an affirmation card I bought.
I may be one who’s going to get this tiny human out into the world, but I can honestly say I couldn’t do it without him.
And bless him, he even tried on the empathy belly at the birth centre much to the delight of the midwives. And it worked! He now has renewed empathy for the weight that I’m starting to carry, especially in this heat.
What a mighty good man.
5. Belly time
If you’ve read some of my latest letters to Squeaky B, you’ll know that ‘belly time’ with myself, Nick and Squeaky is one of my favourite parts of each week. This happens mostly at night; when I’m settling down for a rest suddenly there’s a one-person conga line happening in my uterus. Nick likes to get involved by having a chat about his day to Squeaky, and following their movements with his hand. They like to prod and poke each other until Squeaky settles down – usually with a hand pressing firmly into my side – and Nick likes to think of them holding hands already.
Cue the waterworks from me.
But it’s moments like this that give me a clear picture of what I’m going to get at the end. The birth is just one part of the bigger picture. A picture where all four of us become a family and we get to start a whole new adventure together.
I’ve not said this out loud to many people, probably because they’d just roll their eyes and say something like “I’ll ask you again during labour”, but with all of the above in place I’m actually looking forward to giving birth. Sure, it’s part impatience with STILL being pregnant, but also because I’m planning on and preparing for a really positive experience.
September really cannot come soon enough.