Mentally preparing for labour & birth

This is definitely a topic I have been thinking about a lot lately in trying to prepare myself for the onset of labour third time around. 

In the days leading up to birth, most women think about how their labour might be and how we would ideally like it to play out. For me, keeping open minded about every aspect has been really important. I do have some semblance of a 'birth plan' in terms of the ideal scenario I would like, however, I am not fixating myself on this because I know with labour things can change very quickly. 

It might sound odd, or even obvious to some, but actually giving myself permission to lean on whatever help I might need in the moment has been hugely freeing for me. I remember with Noah and to some extent, Jonah too, I had such a strong desire to labour completely naturally and with no pain relief if I was able. It just so happened that my 'plans' went to plan and I experienced very natural 'textbook' labours. But I have to say, I did feel a strange pressure from somewhere inside me to prove to myself that I could do it that way. In hindsight, letting go of any sort of pressure to perform in labour is hugely liberating and I feel much stronger going into my third labour knowing that I am totally free to 'call the shots', so to speak. After all, there are no medals or special congratulations for a mother who gets through labour completely naturally! However the baby arrives, a safe, healthy delivery is all that matters in the grand scheme!

Birth is scary, whether as a first-time mum or third like me! Something about not fully knowing the outcome prior to the big day can be quite daunting. However, there are definitely things you can do to minimise anxiety and put yourself in a position where you feel safe and content when labour does kick off.

For me, choosing to deliver in hospital is a decision that has laid to rest a lot of anxiety. Whilst I know I'm considered medically  'low risk' which opens me up to more options of the whereabouts of my delivery (at home, for example), I feel so much safer having my babies in hospitals where, should anything go wrong during the labour, I am exactly where I need to be for swift intervention! But on the flip side, for some women it's actually being at home and in familiar and comfortable surroundings that puts them at ease during labour- something I wholeheartedly admire! 

Another point that I think is really important is having your birth partner know your wishes for your birth. Labouring takes you to a different place mentally and certainly for me, I know that when it's really got going I've totally zoned out and entered a different head space. The person who is with you should be able to encourage you throughout the labour and also mediate between you and your midwives if you're unable to talk very much. I definitely underestimated the power of positive thinking and verbal encouragement before I had Noah, but actually, with hindsight I know for certain I couldn't have made it through either of my births in the way I did if I hadn't had a constant stream of moral support and encouragement from the people around me. That included my mother in law, my own mum and of course, Eddy there with me throughout!

 I also think it's important in the weeks leading up to birth to simply familiarise yourself with the various ways that babies are born. We all dream of a straightforward birth, but regardless of how well the pregnancy has progressed, or even previous labours and births, there may arise the need for medical intervention at any point in labour. Reading up on assisted births, c-sections and various pain relief options is important because, whilst you're not doing it to scare yourself, it's so much better to be in possession of the facts if you do end up needing help. Also, I think an emergency intervention would be less scary to cope with at the time if you have a rough idea of what it entails before the big day!

And finally, whilst all of the above has probably sounded a bit clinical, one of my absolute favourite ways of mentally gearing up for birth is simply enjoying my bump and the process of getting everything ready for the baby's arrival. Whether decorating a nursery, washing baby clothes or even packing the bags for hospital, going through these motions all really help to put you in a positive, excited frame of mind which honestly is such a great weapon against the natural anxiety and worry that comes with child birth!  

I'm not going to lie, I am really nervous about going through the whole process all over again but I also feel confident that I CAN do this and I know I will have all the support needed to get through it once again. I really hope this helps any other mums who are also mentally gearing up for birth- It's such an amazing time to look forward to new life entering the world! Cling onto that sense of awe because it has incredible power when you're in the thick of contractions!



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