First of all, it’s good to know what the term ’positive birth’ actually means. It doesn’t necessarily mean a completely drug and intervention free birth that lasts 3 hours; in fact a positive birth experience isn’t so much about the type of birth you had, but the way you felt about it. Milli Hill, founder of the positive birth movement defines positive birth as:
“A positive birth means a birth in which a woman feels she has freedom of choice, access to accurate information, and that she is in control, powerful and respected. … Positive Birth is about approaching birth realistically, having genuine choice, and feeling empowered by your experience”
So what can you do to increase the likelihood of having a positive birth experience? Have a look at these tips to help you prepare physically, emotionally and practically for the big day!
Research your birth choices early. The NHS have a web page with lots of information about where to give birth. You can also discuss this with your midwife. Think about what kind of environment would suit you best – do you feel calm with music? Would bringing extra pillows or other comforts from home make you more comfortable?
Keep as healthy as you can. Studies have shown that eating a healthy, balanced diet (it’s not easy when pregnant, I know all too well!) and exercising, can have an impact on the length and ease of labour & birth. If you’re not a massive fan of exercise, a simple 20 minute walk per day will help increase your fitness, stamina and strength which will make such a difference.
Learn relaxation techniques – this can help to keep you calm, confident, comfortable and in control during your birth. Hypnobirthing is a good start, and can be beneficial regardless of what type of birth you have. Keeping relaxed through breathing, visualisations, massage and self hypnosis can help to keep the ‘fight or flight’ hormones at bay (they hinder labour) and promote the release of positive hormones that help the body do what it’s supposed to do!
Remember your body is yours – Don’t be afraid to ask questions and understand that you are in control of what happens to your body. If a treatment or intervention is mentioned or offered, ask for as much information and evidence as possible to help you make an informed decision. Try and involve your birth partner as much as possible as they will be your support and advocate throughout your experience.
Avoid reading or listening to negative birth stories. If you hear someone start to tell you about their birth story when you are pregnant, you can say something along the lines of “ Is this a positive? if not could you tell me when I’ve given birth?”
Educate yourself about birth. All types of birth, pain relief options, birthing positions, what’s normal and what’s not. Being knowledgeable is being informed. There are many birth classes you can take that will cover all of this. You can use the information you learn to write down your birth preferences (birth plan)
Remember your experience will be unique to you. It is one of the biggest events of your life so truly deserves as much preparation as possible.