Congratulations! You’re growing a little person! A mini-me or mini-him or possibly mini-both! It’s a crazy wild ride and no one knows quite what to expect, but one thing is for sure, pregnancy can bring with it many different emotions including joy, shock, gratitude, relief, overwhelm or a mash-up of all these. No matter what your initial reaction is you’ll soon start thinking about where to go from here and the process of getting that baby out, or bringing it from inside to Earth-side.
Birth is something which we don’t usually chat about and most of the time we have never seen a woman give birth except in the video shown in biology class which was not designed to inspire us. So how do we navigate pregnancy and make choices earlier on that support a beautiful and empowered birth experience?
We spoke to Nadine Richardson, Founder and Creator of the only scientifically verified childbirth education course in the world, She Births®. 98% of She Births® mums describe their birth as beautiful.
What is a beautiful birth anyway?
At She Births®, we strongly believe that every birth is beautiful and there is no one right way to birth, but there are some things to consider that will be more supportive for you and your decisions. When exploring your options around birth it’s important to explore you and your partner’s values and then make decisions that are aligned with those values. The people you have around you can greatly influence your perinatal journey so make sure that their attitudes and approach are aligned with your values too. Some values that we think help to support a beautiful birth are loving, respectful, calm, teamwork, communication, touch, connectedness and supporting each other.
Our holistic approach covers 3 areas of education that we call “The Three Pillars”. These are Optimal Mindset, Inner Resources and Outer Resources. Optimal Mindset is intelligent, evidence informed knowledge which helps couples deeply understand the physical and mental process of birth. Inner Resources are the techniques women have always used as natural and effective pain management strategies but we, from lack of exposure, have forgotten that we can actually do it! And the Outer Resources are all the external supports like caregivers, support people and the relief that they can provide (8 hours of massage anyone, yes please!). By utilising all 3 areas you are able to get into the right mindset for a beautiful birth and have the skills to reset during labour, because we all know that there can be unexpected forks in the road but regardless your birth can still be beautiful.
Choosing a caregiver
Choosing a caregiver that can support you in your perinatal journey is something you will need to think about and decide on much earlier than expected, often as soon as you know you will need a GP referral to book in before the wait-list. And unfortunately, when it comes to birth, not all caregivers or systems are created equal and not all will align with your values. While caregivers are working with the best intentions they are still working within a system that has policies to abide by and they have their own framework that they are operating from.
The World Health Organisation [WHO] recognises that 10-15% of women require C-section but the statistics not only vary country to country but also hospital to hospital within the same state. Some hospitals don’t ‘allow’ waterbirth or more than two support people in the room at a time and they enforce continuous cardiotocography [CTG] despite all of these being at odds with the latest recommendations. So, check out what is available in your area and interview your care providers to make sure that you receive the individualised care you’re paying for (taxes is still a form of payment!) and that your values are supported. Once you have found a caregiver continue to have conversations with them, question the care and explore options. You aren’t being difficult, you are being educated and involved. We don’t know what we don’t know so get some good resources and when the time comes birth education. Doulas are a great source of education and support and are the most evidence based tool in the labour room!
Health & Fitness
Birth is like a marathon and you need to prepare your body physically and nutritionally. Yes, you’re eating for two, right? Well, not quite. During pregnancy we only need an additional 350-500 calories a day. And like caregivers not all food is created equal. We get it, the first trimester just eat whatever will stay down (hello hot chips and donuts) but once things settle don’t waste your calories on highly processed sugary foods that will interfere with your hormones, you’ll need those to work properly in labour! Choose nutrient dense foods that have good oils and support your own health and the growth of your baby. Did you know your baby’s brain is basically 60% fat? And that the amino acids in protein are responsible for the creation of new cells? Let’s not forget that you are growing a human and this takes some solid building blocks and a lot of new cell creation.
With 50% more blood in the body and a baby that is swimming in its own wo-man made ocean we can’t ignore the need for extra good quality water. Usual recommendations are 3L a day for a pregnant woman (soups & teas included) so maybe it’s time to get used to the fact that you will be needing to pee all the time, and perhaps put a positive spin on it and relish the fact that you are peeing alone, because when your baby arrives you can kiss that goodbye.
Speaking of kissing things goodbye for a while… Sex, enjoy intimacy and sex as often as you can. Not only is it exercise and helps tone the heart, which is working much harder at the moment by the way thanks to extra fluids and creating life, but it builds oxytocin receptors in the body which is the hormone of labour and bonding. And it’s fun, feels good and connects you to your partner. Other activities you can enjoy are gentle walking which helps to tone the pelvic floor, swimming or yoga. If you have a stronger exercise program you will probably be safe to continue with a bit of guidance and modification from a trained instructor.
Feelings and overwhelm
Having a baby is one of the great life transitions and Rite of Passage for both parents. Yet most women report that they feel overwhelmed at some point during their pregnancy and this is not surprising once you know what is actually happening. The mother’s body is undergoing as many physical and chemical changes as it did in adolescence and between work, maintaining a social life and your relationship there isn’t much time left to honour the changes happening or to connect. Feeling guilt around not connecting with the baby in your womb is a common feeling for pregnant women. But when to find time to stop in this fast paced world where you’re busy getting ready for baby? If this rings true for you, our Free Pregnancy Support Guide is ideal for you. It supports you to feel calm, connected and inspired during your pregnancy early days. The nervous system needs time to reset every day, it’s essential for the growth of your baby, your physical health and also your mental health.
If you want to begin exploring more possibilities around pregnancy and birth, we recommend you start listening to the She Births® Show Podcast and download their Free Pregnancy Support Guide. You can receive 10% off their Full Online Course with the code healthspace10.
If you’re unsure what will work best for you, give them a call and have a chat to talk through your options.
Nadine Richardson and Grace Kiernan