1. Education. Knowledge is power. Find resources about birth that provide evidence-based information so that you can make empowered choices (I have listed a few resources below). When you learn about your physiology during birth, it will blow your mind! I learnt about this and so much more when attending a birth preparation course with my partner and it was the one of the best things we did. The mind plays a big part too, which is why the next tips are also so important.
2. Fight the fear. When we are surrounded with fear-based messages around birth, it's no wonder so many women are anxious about it. Programmes like one born every minute did not make me look forward to the day I would give birth! Deprogramming takes some time. Seek out the facts, speak to people who have had positive experiences and discover the remarkable potential of the human body and mind during birth.
3. Support. Having a circle of support around you who understand your wishes and why they are important to you can help you to feel safe and supported, increasing your chances of a positive experience. I changed hospitals during one pregnancy as I did not feel supported or respected and found an incredible midwife who advocated for me, really listened to what I wanted and why and helped me to create a birth plan that empowered me. This led to the most amazing birth experience!
4. Birth environment. Wherever you choose to give birth, creating an environment where you feel calm and safe will have a positive impact on your experience. Think lighting, music, privacy, no interruptions, anything that will keep that magical oxytocyin flowing - some women create a similar environment to one they would create for sex.
5. Rest and relaxation. It makes sense that being in a rested and relaxed state would lead to a more positive birth experience. Yet who has the time for it? Most women work up to a week or two before their estimated due date which leaves little time & potentially many months of stress to let go of. When you already have children, this time is even more limited and stressful. Persistent stress during pregnancy is not healthy for you or your baby and so it is crucial to make time for yourself to relax for the duration of your pregnancy and not put it off until your maternity leave. In a current ongoing study* on birth experiences, the preliminary results have shown that women attributed rest and relaxation as a major factor in their positive birth experience.
Reflexology is a fantastic way to get in this relaxation throughout your pregnancy, as well as creating time and space to connect with your baby. You can have reflexology treatments once a month or more regularly depending on how you are feeling. Reflexology works wonders for keeping stress levels low, reducing tension throughout the whole body and balancing the body and mind - all factors which can lead to a more positive birth experience.
*Birth Experience Study - https://elisabethbolaza.com/