Want to have the most positive birth experience possible, but don’t know where to begin? Then follow these five simple steps to stay focused, calm and relaxed throughout your pregnancy.
Giving birth is the most amazing thing for the female human body to go through, yet it can be the scariest thing for many of us. Many mothers share their negative birth stories with pregnant women unfortunately without realising the damaging impact it may have on a pregnant mum’s mental attitude towards giving birth. A negative birthing experience can often lead to a mother feeling vulnerable, depressed and sometimes even a ‘failure’. There are support networks and organisations readily available to help parents with the distressing physical, mental and emotional effects of birth trauma. For the pregnant women amongst you who want to prepare yourselves for the most positive birth possible, here are five positive steps you can take during pregnancy to become birth ready.
- Pregnancy yoga.
Pregnancy yoga classes are a great way of helping your body to remain supple, flexible and mobile throughout pregnancy. Yoga can really help to relax you and keep your mind calm. It may also help some mums to feel spiritually connected with their baby. You can practice pregnancy yoga classes weekly, or if you can find the time to practice at home, then just ten minutes a day can make the world of difference to your health and wellbeing. Techniques include the mindful act of breathing, and this alone can really help to prepare you for your birth. Yoga classes will help you to connect and network with like-minded mums as well as getting a well-deserved good night sleep.
- Affirmations and visualisations.
Affirmations and visualisations can really help you to get into the right frame of mind prior to birth. Try sticking post-it notes with written affirmations on around the house. The mirror is a good place, as well as the fridge, your bedside table or even inside your handbag or purse. Little words, phrases and quotes of encouragement can really help you to keep a positive mental attitude and prepare you for the positive birth you are destined to have. Visual aids such as pictures of your favourite things can be a huge support and have a positive impact. By having pictures of your favourite things such as flowers, holidays, loved ones or pets, your body will recognise the love you feel and will produce Oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that causes the uterus to contract, therefore making birth a much more positive, pleasant and often quicker experience.
- Listen to your body.
Think of your body as a piece of machinery, and a fascinating one at that. When your body is tired, sleep. Many pregnant women struggle to sleep at night, so try taking daily daytime naps on your lunch break at work or during maternity leave. Just half an hours shut-eye can make all the difference to your day. When your body is hungry, feed it. Some women suffer with sickness during pregnancy, so try snacking on healthy foods like cheese and crackers, vegetable sticks and hummus or a piece of fruit. Eating little and often can help keep the sickness at bay whilst also maintaining a healthy diet. During labour, it is important you listen to your body and to stay as calm as you possibly can. Fighting your contractions will force your body to tense and therefore slow down the production of oxytocin.
- Exercise ball.
Bouncing around on your exercise ball during pregnancy may seem a little tedious when all you wish to do is lay back on the sofa and put your feet up of an evening, but it can be such a big help for a positive birth. The benefits of using an exercise ball during pregnancy include reduced back pain, reduced contraction pains, and prepares a good position for your baby prior to birthing, as well as keeping you active and healthy during your pregnancy. As you sit on your ball, keep your legs wide, your feet grounded, roll your hips forward so your pelvis is tilted. You can rotate your hips slowly clockwise and anticlockwise and if you want to be a little ambitious, why not try a few bicep curls at the same time? You can sit on your exercise ball at the dinner table, in front of the tv or even at the computer. It’s also a great way to feel connected with your baby, whilst rolling on your ball and rubbing your bump at the same time.
- Breathing Techniques.
There’s a lot to be said about breathing techniques and how breathing is scientifically proven to help reduce stress and anxiety as well as improving organ function. Breathing techniques are used in practices such as yoga, Pilates and meditation. Techniques like the golden thread and counting slowly in before doubling your outbreath can help to slow down your heart rate, in turn creating a sense of calm and tranquillity for you and your baby. Concentrating on your breathing during labour can really help to keep your mind focused and your body relaxed.
Pregnancy can have its fair share of ups and downs, as can birth. None of us know what kind of birth we will have, whether it be a natural birth, a C section or forceps delivery. No one can ever prepare us enough for motherhood, just like no one can ever prepare us enough for our births. Have faith that you are able to have the most positive birth if you allow yourself to. Try to stay as calm and relaxed during pregnancy as possible, and that can set you in good stead for the most positive birthing experience you and your baby deserve.
Written by Tara Andrews of Mind over Mum