Meet Manie, a Birmingham-based doula with a background in holistic health. Here she shares her eight essential tips for empowering mums to have a smooth labour and a positive birth experience.
Whilst weddings are one of the most important days of your life and you plan for it to go smoothly, in reality, the birth of your child is THE most important day of your life so invest in it! Birth plans are absolutely worth the effort but you need to make sure your midwife during delivery knows you have one – your birth partner can take on this responsibility. Most midwives (certainly the ones I have worked with) like to understand and meet the wishes of mums to be, so don’t hesitate to print a copy and clip it to your maternity notes. Think about what’s important to you, how you want to birth and the experience you hope for then plan it stage by stage. This will help you feel positive and upbeat too.
2. Home water birth
If you hire a birth pool, please ensure it comes with a brand new hose. This is important to ensure there is no contamination in the water as a used hose may harbour bacteria.
3. Pain relief
Don’t leave this until the last minute. Think about pain relief beyond what is available from hospital epidurals, pethidine and entonox (gas & air). TENS machines, music, massage, hypnotherapy, aromatherapy are just a few examples of effective pain relief. It’s well worth the research.
Plan for every eventuality, even the bits that are uncomfortable. This will provide so much peace of mind for you and your partner and will leave you feeling ‘lighter’. I do not have a single client who has not passed a comment on how relieved they were having ‘had the discussion’. After this, continue focusing on the positives and the birth you want.
5. Due Dates
Estimated Due Dates provide an indication of the period your baby is likely to make an appearance, but remember that they’re just that: an estimate – not an eviction date. Recent research published suggests that EDD’s are in fact up to 5 weeks out. In my experience, be prepared to have baby from 37 weeks and don’t be concerned if week 40 comes and goes with no sign of debut! Babies come when THEY feel they’ve cooked enough so the less intervention the better for you both.
6. Professional birth partners
Having someone ‘emotionally unattached’ but with your best interests in mind can make a huge impact on your birth experience. The facts speak for themselves: 25% shorter labours and a 50% reduction in C-sections. Plus there’s the absolute freedom for mum to focus 100% on herself and her birth and not worry about anything else going on in the world. Most doulas see their role as supporting both parents not just mum. Feedback from my fellow doula sisters shows that Dads are actually the most appreciative of this type of support at a birth.
7. Visit more than just one hospital
If you’re planning a hospital birth take time to visit more than just one. Depending on where you live your options may be much broader than you think. Each hospital varies greatly in terms of maternity services, facilities, staff and policies. All these factors will contribute to your overall birth experience.
8. Log off!
Labour isn’t the time to be Facebooking, tweeting and sharing. Wellwishers may be messaging you for progress reports, but responding takes your attention and focus off the job in hand – concentrating on your body, your baby and your birth. how it’s communicating with your body. Switch all the technology off and relax and enjoy your birth experience.