In a mothering society that seems hell-bent on women exchanging horror birth stories, it seems almost rebellious for women to dare to desire an empowering birth experience.
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Can birth be positive, rewarding and even, dare I say it – pleasurable? Absolutely it can. Below are five of the best ways mothers-to-be can work towards having an empowering birth experience.
1. Seek continuity of care
Numerous studies have shown time and time again that women achieve the best outcomes in birth when they are cared for throughout their pregnancies by a known care provider. That is to say, they have continuity of care. Women who are able to form a trusting relationship with a care provider of their choosing are shown to have an increased level of satisfaction and lower levels of postnatal depression. And it makes total sense. When a woman knows who will be looking after her and nurturing her during probably one of the most vulnerable moments of her life, it’s no wonder she is going to feel safer and more at-ease to just do her good ol’ birthing thing.
2. Work through past trauma and fears, piece by piece
Even though it’s true that every birth experience is unique, it is also true that unresolved birth trauma can directly impact a woman’s perceptions of birth. PTSD is real, and can have disastrous effects for women in labour and also postnatally, too. For this reason, it’s imperative for pregnant women to be supported to confront and work through any fears that they may have regarding labour or childbirth.
3. Get to know the birthing hormones
As Dr Sarah Buckley says, “Hormones are your helpers” – but they can also be a hinder. Especially adrenalin, if fear isn’t managed. Getting familiar with the role that different hormones can play during labour and birth can greatly enhance the experience a woman has. Oxytocin, adrenalin, prolactin, oh my! Knowing how to enhance the positive role that hormones can play in labour and birth is an excellent way for a woman to feel like an empowered, birthing goddess.
4. Be immersed in positive birthing stories and experiences
Today, there are so many wonderful birth-positive resources around for women to access and immerse themselves in. The Positive Birth Movement, Midwife Thinking, Birth Without Fear and Rockstar Birth Magazine are just a few of them. Women who actively choose to delve deep into the world that is #empoweredbirth can see all kinds of different birth experiences with the Mama at ease, surrendering to whatever may unfold. These can be great resources for husbands and partners, too, as well as siblings!
5. Pick and choose the right social circle
It’s super important for emotionally vulnerable pregnant women to be picky with the kind of company they keep during their pregnancy, particularly the final trimester. Mamas-to-be should choose friends who will support and encourage whatever birth experience they are aiming for, not friends who tear down and try and scare with their unresolved birth-related traumas or fear. Pregnant women are like emotional sponges, so keeping the social circle tight, and cocooning with positivity-only peeps is the way to go.
All variations of birth can leave a mama-to-be feeling empowered, if care is taken to ensure her wishes and boundaries are respected. Women are capable of immense strength, courage and determination. By making mindful choices about their care providers, working through fear, immersing themselves in positive birthing vibes, getting to know hormones and spending time around the best kind of people; pregnant mamas can get the most out of their birthing experience and look back on it fondly, and with love.