Using my knowledge of hypnobirthing to prepare for the arrival of my baby I became very interested in birth affirmations, positive imagery and watched my fair share of birth videos to get my bubble of positiveness well and truly pumped up! I saw plenty of images of what I wanted and hoped this birth would be like - fairy lights around the birth pool, scented candles burning whilst I sat on my birth ball listening to my relaxation tracks. Kids beautifully asleep while my other half welcomed the midwives with tea and some cake I had baked, sitting them down to read through my birth plan & welcome note all smiling. But to be honest, towards the end I found a problem with this 'Pinterest' board I was creating in my head (& had stuck to my wall)
I had a long early labour; start stop for a good week if not longer. Regular patterns of contractions which built with intent would then just stop. Time and time again the birth pool was filled, midwives arrived, I was having some lovely strong contractions that meant I had to stop chatting with them - then stop. Empty the pool, everyone go home and me left feeling disappointed but aware there was a reason. Lying back in bed I remembered a passage from Ina May Gaskin talking about how thought processes can affect a woman's labour i.e knowing there is something that needs to be done that week may put off the start of labour, a packed diary or something to sort out with the kids. I wondered if I had been putting too much emphasis on this 'Ideal Birth' image I carried in my head and was actually creating tension as I tried to make sure everything was right.
My favorite affirmation "Surrender, Relax, Let go...' floated in to my head, yes it was time to let go but let go of this perfect image. So-what if the pool didn't have the lights turned on around it, it would make no difference if the candles weren't lit or the many other things I could list that may have played out differently.
I relaxed, I still had some key affirmations that saw me through and some beautiful pictures stuck to my fridge that were important to me. Gone were the images of other peoples births, of what other birth professionals thought and of what I thought would make a great photo! And my birth was everything it should have been, individual, authentic and unpredictable!
Be yourself. Understand what is truly important to you & let go of what you have seen others do. In-fact this is a statement that will help throughout your parenting life.
Here's 10 things to remember when thinking about your authentic birth;
1. Birth is a journey with many twists and turns.
2. Prepare for all eventualities and don't focus on one ideal.
2. Choose positive imagery that is personal and speaks to you.
3. If watching birth videos helps you, focus on the outcome not on how it looked. Try watching ones that are in different settings; hospital if your planning a home birth etc.
4. Get personal with your affirmations and don't worry if the pretty ones on Pinterest don't fit with how you feel.
5. Birth is beautiful however, wherever it is.
6. Many women find that things they have planned for aren't what they want when they are in labour. Water is a perfect example - there's always that one who HATES baths and says 'I will never want a water birth'. During labour the birth pool is free and OH YEAH that's where baby is born!
7. Use the preparation of any imagery/ crafts or setting up your birth space to relax yourself. Time just for you.
8. Have alternatives. If the pool isn't free sometimes a shower is wonderful. It doesn't feel great standing up? - know which positions lying down can still be open and 'active'.
9. Ask questions. If your birth isn't taking the path you thought, ask about your options and understand what different choices you have so that you can still feel in control.
10. Authenticity comes from a deep trust and knowledge that you know what to do.
Your body & your baby have got this! Be fearless, be free.