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Can childbirth be enjoyable?

Birth Preparation

I took a small group class through the Calmbirth®program last weekend. In passing, I happened to mention how much I enjoyed both my labours. My comment was met with surprise, and what I felt like was a sense of reassurance. One mum responded by saying how lovely it was to hear someone talking about their experience in such a positive way. So that got me thinking…

Why aren’t we talking about childbirth in this way!? Why is childbirth so feared in our society? I know for certain that I’m not the only woman who has enjoyed her labour and births. In fact, I didn’t only enjoy them, I LOVED being in labour. I would go so far as to say that I would give birth 100 times over again (if it didn’t mean I would then be left with caring and raising 100 children!).

And why wouldn’t I? What could top the moment when you are birthing the baby you have spent almost 10 months (if not longer) waiting to meet? I can clearly recall the excitement that rushed through me once I realised it was D-day. The tingle of energy that took over my body with each wave, that brought me one step closer to meeting our baby. Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, it’s hard work. Yes, it will push you to limits you never knew existed. But, it can be one of the most empowering, transformative, amazingly mind-blowing experiences of your life. Grantly Dick Read nailed it

“Birth is primarily of the mind”. And with the right mindset, it CAN be an enjoyable experience”.

So here are a few points that may get you thinking, and shift your thoughts around childbirth in a positive way:

Each wave brings me closer to my baby

Focus on that. Be in the moment, concentrating on one wave at a time. Don’t think about what’s been, or how far you have to go. Ride each wave as it comes. Use your energy to get through what’s in front of you – knowing that each wave that you tackle is bringing you that one step closer to holding your baby.

The sensations of labour and birth are not constant

Between each wave is a period of REST. Use it. Take that time to fully relax, release any tension and recharge, before you meet the next one. This is where your support team and birthing support partner is vital to ensuring you use your breaks to just “let go”.

You are working together with your baby

There are two passengers on this journey. And you are working together. As you move around and work with the process of labour, your baby is navigating the birth canal. Talk to your baby. Communicate. Visualise your baby making its way through your pelvis. You are a team.

Relaxation is key

When you enter into the relaxation response, you fuel all the right hormones needed for labour and birth.

You nourish the oxytocin needed for good, strong, effective uterine contractions (which you need to be able to birth your baby). You enhance those beta-endorphins which provide you with a natural form of pain relief and allow you to enter into the primal part of your brain to birth instinctively. You deter the flight or fight response, therefore fuelling your uterus and your baby with plenty of oxygenated blood and nutrients. And you allow for more room for your baby.

A tense woman is tense all over – in her neck, shoulders, pelvis. A tense pelvis limits the space available for baby to make its way through.

Just breathe

Breath work is so important. The breathing techniques taught in Calmbirth®are pivotal. They increase the release of carbon dioxide, which activates the stimulation of the para-sympathetic nervous system – the pathway to the relaxation response.

You only get to do this a handful of times

It’s something you only get to experience a handful of times in your life. So enjoy it, make the most of it. Meet each wave with a smile. Use laughter where you can. You are birthing your baby! How exciting is that!!?

If you happen to be one of those women who loved her labour and birth – spread the word! Talk about it. Empower other women with confidence that it is an enjoyable experience!  Be the voice that changes the way in which we talk about childbirth.

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