This is the time when the miracle of conception becomes a separate reality and a new baby enters the world. The thought of the birth can be daunting, especially for a new mum, but there are many ways to prepare for the birth so that you can stay aware, in control and able to remember this as a spectacular moment in your life.
Each of us is very different, so our preparation needs to be individual. Some women need to read, research, talk to other mothers and gather as much information as possible. Others find they become confused by contradictory messages and other people's experiences. What is really important is to know as much as you need about the actual process of birth and then to decide how you want it to happen for you and your baby. It is usual now for mother to be asked to prepare a "Birth Plan" and this can be a helpful exercise for you and your partner beforehand - and for medical staff involved at the actual birth. It is helpful to allow some flexibility in your plan, but the clearer you are about your preferences, the more in control you will feel and the less stressful the whole experience will be.
You may like to consider :-
- Where do I want to give birth - at home; at hospital; in a clinic?
- Who do I want to be with me? Do I have a reserve person?
- What pain relief do I want to consider?
- Is a birthing pool available and do I want to use it?
- How do I feel about a caesarean option?
- What do I want in the room with me - books; music; aromatherapy burners; special drinks; comfortable chair; teddy bear?
- How much do I want to know about the medical checks during the birth?
- What medication am I prepared to use?
- Who can have access to my room during labour?
- How do I feel about students observing?
- Which positions do I want to try out as I give birth - squatting? standing?
- Do I want my baby delivered directly onto my stomach or wrapped first?
- How do I feel about giving my baby Vitamin K straight after the birth - would I want it given by injection or orally?
- What is my decision about when to cut the cord? ...and who will cut it?
- Do I want to breast-feed and how soon after the birth?
- What do I want to happen to my baby as they are born?
- What else is important to my baby, my partner and me?
Each birth is individual - even for the same woman having another baby - so it is not possible to have an absolutely definitive plan. You can build on your original plan during the birth and make decisions, as they need to be considered. If you have discussed these issues with your partner and anyone else who will be supporting you during labour, then they will have a clear idea of your ideas and preferences. They will then be able to ensure these are considered throughout, even when you are otherwise occupied!
Birth is a natural process. It is helpful to remind yourself of this whenever the panic rises and you start to wonder how this baby is really going to get out of your body! Women have been giving birth in very varying situations the world over and for thousands of years. Even in our modern worlds of maternity units and hospital clinical environments we can still get in touch with our instincts and follow the personal inner voice which tells us what is right for us. Try to go with your body - it knows what to do - and if you can trust it, you will give birth in your own way, feeling in control. This is the real beginning of a very special relationship.
It may help to make a time regularly to shut out the external world and put your hands on your belly and talk to your baby inside you. Explain how you feel, tell them how important they are and what you want to happen. Most importantly tell them you will work with them at the birth so that you can do it together. Tell them that you will welcome them into your life and keep them safe - that life is worth the effort of being born.
Issues of control and fear of losing control (especially of your bowels - or your temper) come up for may women during childbirth. Rescue Remedy can help you here to relax emotionally and regain a sense of balance so that the tension in your body is where it needs to be - in the contractions of the uterus. Sometimes as you move into the last stages of labour and the cervix opens fully you can feel overwhelmed by the whole thing. Some women then wonder if they can cope, may get angry or swear (uncharacteristically) at their partner. As your midwife will tell you, this is very normal and they will not be shocked. You are centre stage at this time and you need only follow your gut instinct, do what your body tells you and you can then be in control of your own process of childbirth.
Remedies like Rescue Remedy help calm us during a crisis and Arnica will help all new mothers by easing the bruising and soreness so that you can concentrate on enjoying your new family. The Bach Flower remedies are also very helpful to balance our fears and worries.