I co-facilitate the East Devon Positive Birth Stories Group. We 'meet' once a month (currently online) to discuss all things birth and to hear the birth stories of new parents. I wrote this post after our February meeting during which we heard two positive home birth stories.
The birth stories we heard in February’s meeting were both very positive. Both mothers had experiences that left them feeling empowered and satisfied. Some people might say they were lucky, and whilst that’s true, they both also shared some of the things they did in the run up to their births that increased their chances of being lucky. We’ve talked in earlier posts about psychological preparation, preparing your mind for birth. Preparing your body is important too!
The chances of a ‘normal’ birth which progresses at a steady pace and with a manageable intensity of pain are greatly increased if your baby is in the Optimal Foetal Position (OFP). Most babies go into OFP towards the end of pregnancy, with their heads down, their back towards their mother’s abdomen and their chins tucked down. Our speakers this month talked about avoiding slumping on the sofa too much (which can cause the heavier side of baby’s body, its back, to move towards your back), instead sitting on the birth ball with knees lower than hips. Scrubbing the floors or skirting boards on all fours was also suggested, but that sounds a bit like hard work to me!! Draping your body over a birth ball might be more relaxing ;-)
One of the mums had come across the ‘Spinning Babies’ techniques which are positions and movements that can be tried (with care, and under the guidance of your midwife) and may help your baby to move into a good position for birth (https://www.spinningbabies.com/). Similarly, a doula or antenatal teacher who understands birth physiology may be able to suggest positions for you to try if your baby is transverse, breech or is sitting high in your pelvis.
Pregnancy yoga is also a lovely way to keep your back and hips mobile and flexible and may help your baby to move into OFP. Many yoga teachers will also include aspects of relaxation and meditation in their classes to get your mind and body ready for birth. Finally, there was a lot of chat about perineal massage, a practice that some people feel reduces the chances of serious tears or the need for an episiotomy. There is some evidence of its efficacy, and having your partner help you may be empowering and a bonding experience for you both.
There are no guarantees that you will have a positive birth experience even with all the preparation in the world. However, we feel that being informed, keeping and maintaining a positive mindset and preparing physically will give you and your baby the best chance!
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.