Are you too busy to birth? Here’s ten tips to help you slow down…
Painful? A matter of opinion but yes...
A priority? Mmm...
So you really want a positive birth experience? Then you need to put it at the top of your list.
Have you ever said the words...’I’m just waiting until I go on maternity leave and then I’ll start...’? If you start anything pregnancy related on your maternity leave, IT IS TOO LATE. You can’t expect to give up work at 39 weeks and go into labour at 40 weeks...(unless you are particularly lucky).
Birth is a physiological AND emotional process. Simply put when your oxytocin levels (the love hormone - think how you feel when you’re really happy - that’s oxytocin) are high enough that your contractions can start... your baby will begin making their journey earth side. So how do oxytocin levels get high? You need to feel joy and lots of it. You need to feel relaxed, happy, stress free, let yourself slow down a little, a bit like the feelings you have when you're on holiday really.
Now I know, in our society, this is no easy task. Everyone is SO busy with work, social lives and a million other things. BUT birth has to become a priority. This is the project of your life. Working five days a week in a demanding job is going to need a little decompression time to allow your adrenaline to go down and your oxytocin to go up. If not, what might happen? You go overdue and then induction is looming and you're under yet more pressure once again.
So how can you prepare for birth?
Here are my top ten things I think can help:
1. Take a longer break before baby, you’re never going to regret alone time pre kids, around 36 weeks if you can.
2. Go to a pregnancy yoga class...and not for the body, for the mind. Learn to switch off that thinking monkey mind and relax. Show your body you love it, let it move slowly and gently and love yourself with some quiet time.
3. Lie about your due date...you don’t need added pressure from well meaning loved ones.
4. Have a relaxation ritual at home. Whether it’s yoga, meditation, a hypnobirthing script, journalling or just eating cake and watching chick flicks, give yourself time to be still, doing nothing. This is good practice for when baby is here too, you need to learn to just be...
5. If you can take a day’s holiday at some point before mat leave, book it off and DO NOTHING. Practice being home for a day and only doing the bare minimum. No checking emails, ticking things off the do list, running a quick errand...just pottering, napping, reading...this is great self care and again it’s good for slowing down...make a note of how hard you found it, just being...if it was hard, keep practicing :)
6. Deal with your fears. Whatever is in your head and swirling around in there, don’t sit with it. Talk to someone, write it down, clear those fears!
7. Get informed and write down a short Birth preferences list. What’s important to you? Why is it important? How will this be achieved? Start the conversation with yourself and your partner.
8. S.L.O.W D.O.W.N you have to be able to say NO. You are your priority right now. You are growing your beautiful baby...that’s enough. Don’t run around doing a zillion things, now is not that time.
9. Sing to baby. Choose a lullaby now, when they’re in your arms they’ll be able to recognise it and be soothed by it :) This beautiful tip is from uber doula, Natalie Meddings' new book 'How to Have a Baby', you can order here.
10. Prepare for after the birth. What will it be like? Talk to other mothers...what is essential? Food should be up there...an extra pair of hands, gather your tribe. And while you’re there ask them the same about their birth stories, get their tips!
And lastly, tune in and listen to yourself. Your body and your baby will send you signs...extra tired, achy back, feeling low...listen and look after yourself. This is a special time, don’t miss it being busy.