Hearing or reading those words makes my heart sing. Knowing that I have contributed, albeit in a small way, to a woman’s positive birth experience makes doing my job such a pleasure. It also helps me cope with comments that are often made, in the press or elsewhere, about the idealisation of birth that people like me perpetuate. Childbirth educators can be accused of being ‘anti’ all number of things…anti-interventions, anti-hospitals, anti-medical professionals, anti-pain relief and so on. When faced with such accusations I start by taking a very deep breath in and a long, slow breath out. Breathing in calm and breathing out tension not only helps me to relax but it also prevents me from saying something careless or ill-considered.
I am not ‘anti’ anything really, other than women being treated as if they don’t know their own bodies and can’t make decisions about their care. That’s pretty basic stuff in my book and what I have found over the last 20 years is that women who are supported respectfully by those who believe in them, are much more likely to experience pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period in a relaxed and calm way.
And so we return to ‘the breathing’ method of staying calm. No matter how a baby is born, a calm and peaceful attitude and environment can only be of benefit. Deep breathing brings precious oxygen for mother and baby, it calms the mind and body – thereby helping to loosen joints and soften muscles. Research shows that being relaxed reduces the experience of pain and the need for analgesia (think about how much easier it is to have an injection if you are relaxed), working with the sensations of labour rather than fighting against them helps women use the natural hormones of labour and babies born to calm mothers achieve higher Apgar scores at birth. And there’s more…positive birth experiences can improve postnatal mental health and well-being which in turn will help bonding with your baby.
So whether it’s NCT antenatal courses, Yoga for Pregnancy, Homoeopathy for Childbirth sessions, Pregnancy Relaxation classes or Natal Hypnotherapy Workshops my aim is always the same. Support women, and their partners, to have calm and confident births. Help them find a way to use breathing, relaxation and self-hypnosis to maintain a sense of focus and to help them connect with their instinctive birthing body. Dispel the negative images they may have and replace them with positive ones.
That way the stories I hear, time and time again, use the language of confidence and empowerment. Whether babies are born vaginally or by caesarean the breathing is still considered valuable. Midwives are often amazed at how relaxed the women are and complement them on their breathing. It makes my work a complete joy and hopefully helps the women I worth with have a better birthing experience.
Read some lovely, calm here birth stories here.
If you want to find out more about calm and confident birthing here are a few books you could read and some CDs you may like to listen to…
Effective Birth Preparation by Maggie Howell
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
The Breathing by Virginia Campbell & Charlotte Whitehead
Gentle Birth Gentle Mothering by Dr. Sarah Buckley
Natal Hypnotherapy Range of CDs for Pregnancy, Birth and Postnatal Recovery