Yep, you read that right! Birthing CAN be an amazing experience. Here are some of the tools and resources I used to prepare me for birth the second time around. These are merely just tools you can use (or not use) depending on what you feel you need for your birthing experience. Try one, none or all of them!
- Book: The Calm Birth Method by Suzy Ashworth.
This book is based on the hypnobirthing methods but was so important in helping me shift my mindset around birth from fear to trust.
- Meditation and Visualization: Hypnobirthing Home Study Course, Pt. 4 Breathing and Birth Visualization by Kathryn Clark.
This was just one meditation I downloaded on my phone and every day during the last month of pregnancy I would listen to one or more of the tracks while having a nice relaxing bath. It really helped me to envision how I wanted to feel during the birthing experience.
- Practicing breathing and relaxing my pelvic floor.
This was HUGE for me. I saw a pelvic floor physiotherapist during the last half of my pregnancy and we focused a lot on breathing techniques and releasing the muscles of the pelvic floor. And then I would practice this while doing the meditations I mentioned above to prepare my pelvic floor for birth. I took this with me through labour and it was SO helpful. I breathed down my baby in 7 minutes once I was fully dilated without once holding my breath and “pushing”. That’s almost a conversation for another blog post but the gist of it is that when you hold your breath, push and bear down you are actually tightening the muscles of the pelvic floor and contracting them. This makes no sense because you are contracting and narrowing the opening for the baby to come out. Relaxing those muscles and breathing the baby down allow the uterus to naturally contract and push the baby down out that opening while it stretches to allow for this.
- Essential Oils.
I will definitely expand on this in another article, but the 2 essential oils I used during labour were Clary Sage and Lavender. I used Clary Sage at home during early/active labour to strengthen the effectiveness of my contractions. I had a really long labour first time around with stalls, and ineffective contractions and I didn’t want this to happen again this time around. Clary Sage is great to amp things up if they slow down or if you want to increase the effectiveness of each contraction. It won’t induce you, but can be used after labour starts. Still-not recommended to be used in pregnancy until you go into labour. I also had this huge paper bag full of different oils to bring with me to the hospital once it was time and when it came down to it, my intuition said “All I need is lavender right now to calm me the F*** down!” once we arrived. Transitioning to a new setting brought me out of my groove a bit and I just knew I needed to relax to let things happen and to decrease the intensity of what I was feeling and Lavender helped with that. It’s such a calming, relaxing oil and everyone who came into the room afterwards was commenting on how lovely the room smelled!
- Affirmations. I found affirmations that I wanted to think and hear during labour to help me stay positive and glued them to a poster board. I shared them with my birth partner before birth and told him-this is what I want to hear when things get tough and I want to give up. I brought them to the hospital to look at in case it was going to be a long haul.
- Birth Preparation Workshop (or community of pregnant women-prenatal yoga, birth classes, etc.) I attended a Birth Preparation workshop before my second child was born. Sharing experiences, visions and hopes and fears with other pregnant women helped me so much to normalize everything that goes on during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. I highly recommend finding a counsellor or workshops with people outside of your birth support team to help identify fears, concerns and worries and work through them ahead of time. Even just giving them a voice helps them to dissipate so much. Hearing other people speak about things also helps you realize things that you never did before. Many pregnant women find community in Birth and Babies classes the first pregnancy, but second, third or fourth time mamas, it can be useful to find that elsewhere. Whether its a prenatal yoga class, birth preparation workshop or other group.
- Birth Doula. I didn’t have one the second time around, but I did for my first pregnancy. There are so many benefits to having a doula even if you are with midwives. I love what doulas do, and am in the process of becoming one! The doula we had was such an amazing support person during our first birthing experience and had such a positive impact on us. We truly could not have done it without her and I can’t picture how it would’ve gone without her there. She however went on to become a midwife and we just decided not to have one the second time. But there are so many pros to having one. They help to emotionally support mama and the birth partner, they can help you decide on birth choices, they provide a ton of facts and evidence to help you be informed, they’re great with pain management techniques, all of it! Stay tuned for another post about Doulas!
- Book: The Calm Birth Method by Suzy Ashworth.
Hopefully this gives you some tools to explore during your pregnancy that can help you prepare for the upcoming big day.
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