Birth is a normal physiological process. It is not an illness or a disease, and there is not something wrong with you. Therefore, you don’t need to be heavily medically managed as we see in the majority of pregnancies and births today. I am going to explain why, even though birth is a normal process of the body, we still need to be very intentional about how we prepare for birth. Preparation can make a massive difference in the outcome and the experience itself.
If it is a normal process, why do I have to do so many things to prepare?
We are sitting down…A lot.
Technology has encouraged us to spend most of our time sitting down, rather than out foraging for food like our ancestors. Now there are definitely women who this doesn’t apply to, but the majority are sitting in a car, on a bus or a train going to work. We then sit at our desk, back to the car and onto the lounge. All this sitting down is affecting our muscular system, including our tendons and ligaments. Now don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to ripped to have a baby. You don’t even need to be working out (although it is beneficial). Sitting all day long can cause your muscles and ligaments to become tight and weaker because we aren’t working them out. So, If you’re in this group, preparing for birth might involve you becoming more active so you can work those muscles.
The twenty first century diet. Maccas? HJs? KFC?
Diet can play a considerable role in birth. Is what you’re eating nourishing your body, or are they hindering it? Inflammation, disease, mucous, toxins…Sounds fun, right? These are all things that can be caused by fast food, processed food, refined sugars, chemicals and so on. All these things are working against you, but these are all common in the standard twenty-first-century diet. The advertising for these types of foods are everywhere, and it is impossible to escape. Think of birth as a marathon. Runners don’t prepare by eating junk food they want to give themselves the best chance possible, so they’re filling their bodies with nourishing foods (and maybe an occasional treat). I know, I know, those pregnancy cravings are no joke but trust me when I say you’re going to thank me after birth for bringing this up.
Here’s the big one…The medicalisation of birth.
You do not want to walk into a hospital not knowing anything about birth and your rights, 9/10 you’re gonna have a bad time m’kay. Let’s start with lithotomy pushing (pushing on your back). It is astounding how many ob’s are still trying to get women to lay on their backs for birth. Well, it’s not that astounding because it makes their life easier (the doctor’s life that is). Once you are on your back, you are working against gravity, and your pelvic outlet is in its narrowest position. Pressure is applied to the sacrum and coccyx, which prevents them from moving outwards and allowing baby’s head to move through freely. There are times when this position is preferable, like shoulder dystocia, but majority of the time this is not a beneficial position for labour. The risk of intervention is so much higher when birthing in a hospital, and it is no secret that once you are there you are on the clock to get baby out. Can you imagine how stressful that would be? Stress is the opposite of what you want during labour (I will do a whole post on how hormones affect labour). I will talk about the fear-tension-pain cycle and what we can do to prevent it.
So, what can I do?
I’m glad you asked! Research, research, research. What kind of birth do you want? That is a great place to start. Homebirth? Hospital birth? Birth centre? Have a look at what options are available to you in your area. I will do a separate post on the birthing options for women in the Perth metro area. Are you happy to have interventions? Stretch and sweeps? Having your waters broken? Look up the pros and cons of these so you can make fully informed decisions when the time comes. There is nothing I love more than a fully informed birthing mother taking control of her birth. Finding the right childbirth education class is also extremely beneficial. There are quite a few good ones out there now, and no I’m not talking about the antenatal hospital classes. They might be good with the right midwife teaching them, but I am yet to come across a hospital class that teaches women about having an empowering birth. Vicki Hobbs does a fantastic course called Back to basics birthing that is available in person or online. The positive birth company in the UK also has an excellent course that is very affordable.
That’s all for now, check back soon for my next post.