Everyone’s experience of childbirth differs, and whether fortunate or unfortunate, there is no one-size-fits-all, step by step guide to having the “perfect” birthing experience.
That said, however, I’ll never forget the midwife who said to me that the best births she had ever attended were those of mothers who were well researched. I completely understand where she’s coming from – in preparation for my home water birth, I practically memorized the midwifery text book. Of course, this isn’t something everyone will be able or want to do, so here are a few resources and tips to help you along. As with birth, not everything will suit everyone, so pick and choose what is most helpful to you.
What an incredible resource the internet is. Sometimes there is too much or inaccurate information, other times the information is irrelevant because it is based on personal experience; but often, with a little bit of common sense, you can sift through and find the really helpful.
My first tip would be to join a few forums:
- Unassisted Childbirth has a yahoo group with a member forum. Although I was never really planning an unassisted home birth, and many others that used the forum weren’t either, the lessons learned from that group were invaluable. There were women who had unassisted births, doulas, first time mums and more, and it was the most beautifully uplifting, welcoming and empowering community.
- Homebirth.org is a UK website, but they too have a fantastic homebirth support group where you can ask questions, and with the support of leading birth activists, even get help with implementing your right to have a homebirth.
- The next step is a very emotional one: YouTube. There are hundreds upon hundreds of incredible home birth videos on Youtube. There are water births, land births, twin births, breech births – pretty much anything you can imagine. While some are still completely offended by the publicizing of something so incredibly personal, I know that it went a very long way in preparing me for the sounds, the look, and the reality of a non-Hollywood style childbirth.
- I’ve often used the example of orgasms when talking about giving birth: Can you orgasm in a room full of people watching and telling you to “Come, come, come!”? Do people whom you do not know touching and prodding make you climax? Do other women screaming, bright lights and lots of activity really help you ‘get there’? So far, no one has said yes to any of those. Well, childbirth is the same. In a calm, peaceful environment (excluding emergencies, of course) birth is a much easier process. So finding a way during your pregnancy to be calm and peaceful and to be able to lead yourself into that place can come in very handy during labor. A meditation CD is fantastic for helping to instill that sense of self-belief and still the fears in your heart. Perhaps you could try hypnobirthing or yoga, just to still your mind. There are loads of options, you just have to look around and find something that works for you.
- While I would also recommend talking to other mothers, this one definitely comes with a word of caution. In the last fifteen months as Mama, I’ve learned something rather disturbing about human nature: everyone loves a horror story. The mothers who aren’t rushing to tell their birth story are the ones who either had such a traumatic experience that they can’t bear to speak about it, or had such an amazing experience that they’ve learned not to talk about it, because it makes others feel uncomfortable, guilty, or they simply don’t believe us.
Preparation and research, knowing what to expect, knowing how to handle the ‘little’ things that arise, and more importantly knowing your rights, what you ‘have’ and ‘do not have‘ to do, will make all the difference to a normal, natural, healthy labor and birth experience, regardless of where it takes place.
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