After nine months of carrying her baby, every woman deserves to have a happy and exciting ‘welcome ceremony’ for the little one into the world. That welcome is the birth.
However, as the due date gets closer, you may find yourself overcome with fear, worry – or perhaps simply deep curiosity – about that day may hold for you.
You may be:
- Googling and YouTubing videos of labour
- Talking to everyone you know who has given birth and finding that some people are only too happy to share their not-so-happy story
- Taking your antenatal classes but finding them impersonal and very limited
- Listening to a hypnobirthing CD and wondering if this will really get you through labour pain
- Divided about pain relief options
- Imagining ‘what if’ scenarios
- Worried about your own ability to handle pain
- Having irrational fear about sudden complications
- Wonder if you will have reliable support during delivery
If so, then you have company! In fact, you are in the 90% or so of women who experience some fear or anxiety about birth.
Prior to my own birth, I was addicted to research and was doing everything I could to prepare myself for my own birth plan. I had no mentor but I had spoken to plenty of friends, read as much literature as I could fit in, attended my antenatal classes and breastfeeding workshops, visited the unit where I would give birth, and generally did everything I could to feel positive, prepared, and excited about my labour.
In my labour, I eventually used the tools I had gathered and trusted my body to do what it needed to do and, in the end, I had the beautiful birth experience I wanted. However, reflecting back, I have to be honest and say that I had been naive. The books, the articles, videos and classes had equipped me with useful information, but I had done nothing in terms of really embedding this information. I had not owned it, worked through it, lived it. I had not really built myself up mentally and emotionally for what labour would bring and, truth be told, when the contractions started, I panicked.
The trouble with mainstream information is that it is:
- Focused on the mechanics, rather than the mindset, of birth
- Generally puts the baby at the centre, not the mother
- Written from the medical perspective that makes it feel like labour is happening TO the mother, not WITHIN her
- Treats the baby as an independent entity from the birthing mother and not the team that they actually are
- Presumes women are weak and that labour pain is unmanageable
- Doesn’t acknowledge your fears and anxiety and gives you no space to release or talk about these
- Doesn’t discuss the brain / body / hormone / mindset union of your body during labour
- Doesn’t give you guidance on how to navigate the medical system to get the care you need
- Puts you in a position of powerlessness and relies on other people making decisions for you based on ‘what’s best’
All this means that you may be under-informed about how to cope in labour at best, and have paralysing fear and anxiety about labour at worst. Far from looking forward to what can be the most magical day of your life you may find yourself filled with fear and dread ahead of ‘doomsday’. Needless to say, this can not only negatively impact your experience of the last stages of your pregnancy but leave you feeling upset and anxious around the time of your due date. This can not only impact the labour itself but have lasting consequences for your magical mother-baby bond.
What does a birth mentor do?
As a birth mentor, I help mothers and their partners prepare for labour, working through fears and anxiety in the process. As part of the mentoring programme, you can expect to learn the following:
- Understand the fear-tension-pain cycle
- Uncover your coping mechanisms
- How to write a birth plan
- Use the power of hormones to take charge of your labour
- What to do when you feel you are in labour
- Tools and techniques for employing ‘mind over matter’ in labour
- Feel in control of your labour – it is not happening to you! It is within you and, as such, within your control
- Meditations / visualisations / self-hypnosis techniques that allow you to go within and find strength in the latent stage of labour and transition
- Understanding terms like ‘transition’!
- Explore all birth options and find the delivery style right for you
- What you want the birth partner to do / be for you
- Understand and anticipate what may happen during labour and in the first few hours after the birth
- Anything else you want! Whatever your question, you have my mentor support and guidance available to you in and out of the mentoring sessions
The NHS and the healthcare system are not the opposite of doulas and mentors. They have your health at heart, but not your happiness. The ultimate aim is to create a network of support around the mother that will leave her feeling happy, whole and at peace with the experience she had.