I co-facilitate the East Devon Positive Birth Stories group. We meet each month to listen to birth stories from people who feel positive about their experience. This month we heard from two mums who had homebirths, though we welcome stories about all types of birth. We feel that by hearing positive birth stories pregnant people are less likely to fear birth and have a better chance of having a good experience themselves. There are some wonderful sources of real, positive birth stories (for between meetings!) such as http://www.tellmeagoodbirthstory.com/ which was set up by a fellow doula who also understands the importance of ‘getting your head in the game’.
Birth is as much a psychological experience as a physical one; other ways that we discussed may support keeping a positive mindset during pregnancy, labour and birth were listening to relaxation tracks and repeating affirmations (writing and decorating your own affirmations is a lovely activity for late pregnancy ). We talked about being patient waiting for your baby to arrive and trying not to stress if you go ‘overdue’ (we are NOT fans of the term, and prefer to talk about some pregnancies being longer than others…) Similarly, being prepared for early labour to take a while with feel-good movies and your favourite music.
We talked about being realistic, and open-minded about changes to your ideal birth plan. Both our speakers had planned home births but understood that there had been a possibility of needing to transfer to hospital. They had both prepared hospital bags, with some ‘home comforts’ but also eye masks and ear plugs to protect that all-important “Labourland” bubble. They’d also written lists for their partners of the last-minute items that were essential at home but would be needed at the hospital!!
Which brings us neatly to the last important factor in keeping a positive mindset and ‘keeping your head in the game’. A supportive birth partner, whether your life partner, a doula, close relative or friend is of paramount importance. Loving hands firmly pressing on your lower back, an informed person to speak for your wishes when you’re incapable, the words ‘You’re Safe’ when your body surges with adrenaline as you reach transition… As with any extreme physical event, the right team behind you can help you to do incredible things!
East Devon Positive Birth Stories is a discussion group. We are not health care professionals and do not offer advice or diagnoses. All the choices available to you in pregnancy, birth and parenthood should be researched so that you can evaluate the benefits and risks for your individual circumstances.