Take Back Birth
I recently sat across from a pregnant friend as we enjoyed brunch at a local cafe. She started chatting about her feelings towards labour and she said “You know, I’ll just go with the flow and leave it up to the midwives, I don’t have a plan.” I frowned, “What?!” I replied through a mouthful of ricotta pancakes (ah, pure bliss!). I was in disbelief that a women was prepared to leave her birth experience in the hands of someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I completely support a flexible and realistic outlook toward labour and birth but to not be an active participant in your birth and simply let it just happen to you baffles me. I couldn’t believe it. You wouldn’t just go with the flow on your wedding day. You plan, you prepare, you have back up plans.
With my work with The Positive Birth Movement I often hear mothers say “They didn’t allow me.”, “I didn’t know I could say no.” and if I had a dollar for every time they would then follow those comments with “I wish I had known!” I could afford a personal chef (who admittedly would only be making those ricotta pancakes). You will never get the chance to birth this beautiful baby again and these memories will stay with you for a lifetime. This is your birth and YOU ARE IN CHARGE!
Be EMPOWERED by your birth! You have grown and nurtured this baby and you can bring it into the world. You are not just a vessel to carry and birth your baby, you can be an active participant in your birth!
No matter how you birth you can take control, whether birthing at home or the hospital, a vaginal or caesarean birth, YOU CAN ROCK IT!
It’s time to take back birth and preparation is key! Here are four steps to prepare you to birth your baby like the SUPERSTAR you are!
Know your rights and choices in birth:
Do your research. Know what pain relief is available to you, even if you don’t plan to use it. You need to know what’s available and the benefits and risks associated with them. You are in charge and you can allow or refuse any procedure. Simply because your midwife says she will do something doesn’t make it necessary. Don’t worry, they’ll let you know if you are putting yourself or your baby in danger. Talk with your midwife and familiarize yourself with the choices you’ll need to make. These decisions will form part of your birth plans as well.
Surround yourself with positive birth stories and support:
Horror stories don’t help you. Positive ones do, it’s as simple as that. Don’t forget that your baby is listening too! Find people who will encourage and support you. The Positive Birth Movement is a great way to meet other women who want a positive and empowered birth (head here to find your local group). If a support network is difficult to find then try searching the internet for ‘positive birth stories’.
Create a birth toolkit:
A birth toolkit is a collection of tools (both physical and mental) you can use during your birth to help you have a positive experience no matter how you choose to birth. This will vary between each individual based on your wants and needs but can include your birth plans, calming music, LED candles, pain relief methods (massage, essential oils etc.), birth affirmations, birthing positions and decision making processes.
Have a support person/people:
Whether this is your partner, sibling, parent, friend or doula, it’s your decision. Please choose wisely as you need to ensure they support and understand your birth plans and are able to advocate for your wishes if you are unable to at the time.
It doesn’t matter how you choose to birth: hospital, home or in a field with birds singing in the background, it’s YOUR birth and YOU are in control. You CAN and WILL take back birth!
Zoe Terry is a personal assistant to an adorable 1 year old, wife to a charming chef, and passionate about normalizing birth and empowering mums. Zoe’s also a Community Champion with PANDA raising awareness of perinatal mental health issues and volunteers with The Positive Birth Movement supporting new and expectant mums in her community. You can follow her caffeine fueled rants on her Facebook page, Bumps, Babies & Babble.