“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers — strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength."
—Barbara Katz Rothman
The process of birthing a child is one of the most exciting, powerful and magical experiences a person will ever have in a lifetime. The way you prepare yourself for birth and the way you approach this life event can create a truly positive mindset that will carry you throughout the journey, no matter the circumstances.Whether you are planning a homebirth, hospital birth or whether your plans change at any point during your pregnancy or labour, your inner strength and positive self-talk will accompany you throughout the experience, and this, no-one can take away from you!
What elements can support your positive experience? What practical tools and information may help you on your journey? How to establish self-belief and confidence deep within? Let’s have a look at simple and effective ways of giving yourself a positive and empowering birth experience.
Firstly, let’s talk about the physical process of birthing a baby. Knowledge is power and will boost your confidence.
Your body is driven by hormones. Those hormones all have a very specific role and function. Hormones, such as, Prostaglandin, Oxytocin, Relaxin and Beta-endorphins play a starring role during pregnancy, labour and birth. In the right setting, you can support your own hormone levels and give them an extra special boost.
Oxytocin is also known as the Love and bonding hormone. It is produced by your body’s pituitary gland in the brain. Oxytocin plays a major role during childbirth as it provokes the tightening of the uterus: it causes contractions. Oxytocin is released in the body when you feel loved, cared for and safe.
Therefore, when you set up an environment where you feel positive and where you feel Love, the hormone release will support and guide your childbirth experience.
Beta-endorphins work beautifully with your oxytocin, as it is your very own, naturally released pain killer! When your labour starts, you will have surges of oxytocin as well as a sharp rise in your endorphins’ levels. Scientific studies have shown that when no synthetic pain killers are used during labour, the natural endorphins levels are much higher.
High endorphin levels during labour and birth can induce a state of semi-consciousness, a feeling of being ‘spaced out’ which helps you deal with the pain associated with contractions and childbirth. Many women report feeling like they were in a bubble during their labour, aware of the outside world but fully immerged within their own body and anchored into their present experience.
This feeling is very possibly directly related to your hormones working together.
Your hormones are released by your body as the need arise. It is a vastly unconscious process and during labour, the more relaxed and open you are, the more you allow yourself to just be, and not think, the better your body will be able to produce all the hormones you need to allow you to be in control and feeling positive.
With this brief insight into the world of hormones, how can you prepare yourself for an empowering and positive childbirth experience?Here are a few simple tips to encourage your natural flow of hormones to take the lead during your childbirth experience.
1- During your pregnancy, practice self-care, relaxation techniques, breathing techniques and positive self-talk. Find the methods that truly help you to fully relax and allow your unconscious mind to take over. In short, train yourself to stop your thinking brain and open up your reptilian brain! As many things in life, this takes practice, time and experience, so take all the time you need to find the method that truly works for you and then get better and better at it.
2- Use your 5 senses to find out what helps you enter this zone of true relaxation: picture of loved ones or affirmation cards you can focus on; soft music you enjoy listening to; materials you love the texture and feel of; scents that make you feel happy and remind you of the ones you love: a shirt belonging to your life partner, a teddy belonging to your child, candles or essential oils you like the smell of a scarf belonging to your own mother or gran! Your sense of smell is powerful and smelling pleasant fragrances can bring back happy memories and feelings and boost your love hormones and natural pain killers! Use some or all of these props during your entire labour, at home and in the hospital. Your five senses are a powerful tool you naturally have and do not have to think about to get working.
3- Get in your bubble and stay there! Once you have practiced relaxation techniques and found the sounds, textures and smells that make you happy, you are prepared to enter your birthing bubble and remain in it. During labour, let yourself go, surrender to your body and trust yourself. Everything may not go according to plan but continue to allow yourself to feel love and safety and positivity.
4- Prepare ahead your early postpartum. You will feel a sense of safety and care from knowing what to expect in the early days after the birth of your baby. Who will look after you as you recover? Where can you get extra support if you need it? What foods will you enjoy and who will make it for you? You can prepare your postpartum bubble by planning ahead these simple things that may appear unnecessary right now but will be truly essential after birth! Planning ahead will allow you to surrender to the present moment and waiver anxiety.
5- Be kind, and patient and gentle with yourself, in all circumstances! As you prepare for labour and childbirth, you will feel a wide range of emotions: excitement, fear, joy, pain, love, anxiety, bliss. As you work through these feelings and experiences, remember to love yourself first! Love your ability to sustain life within your womb, love your ability to give birth (whatever type of birth you will have), love your strength and your body! As well as this, remember that you and your baby are in this together: you are not alone, you are sharing one of the most powerful experiences you and your baby will ever share in your lives.
Keys to an empowering birth:
- Educate yourself Understanding what makes your brain feel positive and your body feel safe and relaxed
- Be confident
- Be kind and compassionate with yourself
- It’s the little things! (small things that might make you feel at home, loved and cared for even if you are on your own)
- Bubble-up! Choose a small group of like-minded people around you to talk to and share experiences with.