You can go to all the NCT classes that exist, enroll for hypno-birthing (highly recommend) and remain glued to One Born Every Minute for your whole 9 months, but in reality, there’s little that can prepare you for your birth experience. Every birth experience is different and every mum-to-be’s mental preparedness varies but there are things that don’t get shared about giving birth, which we feel you need to know. I’ve compiled some of the most useful advice from the 400 plus mums who have trained with me to give you this list of things no one ever told you about giving birth.
When your first real labour contractions start, do two things–take this opportunity to eat, sleep and shower as once they become bigger, you won’t want to. This is the time to prepare for what’s coming and you will need your strength. Also, practice how you will deal with contractions early on so that by the time they’re in full flow, you are better equipped to handle them. Often, you’ll have a bit of time before contractions really ramp up (although this can be much quicker if you had a fast delivery previously).
Don’t worry about the poo
If this is your main worry–that you might poo whilst giving birth, don’t. Trust us, when the time comes, poo will be the last thing on your mind. Midwives will have seen a lot worse than poo in their time and are experts at cleaning it away before you even realise it’s there. Some midwives even believe that if there is poo, that you’re really going for it and the baby will be there soon!
Be as noisy as you need
Giving birth is one of the few times you can really let go. And if this means mooing like a cow or roaring like a lion during birth, then go for it. Unleash your inner warrior! Making noise is often a way to relieve pain and progress labour so don’t hold back or feel self-conscious, especially as there will be many others in your exact same situation. Mix things up a bit. You’re in labour for the long-haul-think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint. This means that believe it or not, you may find yourself needing a change to keep you stimulated and to distract yourself; walk around the hospital and change activities (listen to music, have your partner give you a massage, do some stretches, sing, check social media) as and when you feel the need. Make sure you bring plenty to distract yourself with. Birth can last from as little as a few hours, to several days.
Breathing needs focus
Most people think that breathing comes naturally but when you’re giving birth, having control over your breath can also keep you calm, help you deal with the pain and make labour easier. Practise breathing as soon as your contractions begin and ask your partner for help staying focused, especially as time goes on when it becomes more difficult. Your partner will be your main communicator. So make sure you’ve discussed your birth plan and any particular preferences which you feel strongly about. During birth, there are likely to be occasions where you won’t be able to think straight or won’t want to talk to staff so make sure you feel confident that your partner understands what’s important for you during labour and birth. It’s helpful to have a partner who can act as the intermediary between you and the hospital staff so that you’re only asked questions when absolutely necessary, leaving you to continue breathing and focusing on the birth!
Have a plan
And then be prepared to scrap it – or at least divert from it. Birth plans, as every midwife will tell you, is more a list of preferences rather than a set blueprint for your birth. And there’s many reasons for this; firstly, your mental state when putting your birth plan together is very different from what you’ll be going through during the actual birth and your opinion about pain relief may change! Secondly, whilst there are approximately255babies born worldwide each minute, it can’t be guaranteed that an intervention won’t be needed. Our advice? Go with the flow and embrace what’s necessary–after all, your and your baby’s health is your priority. Be flexible!
Remember you’re amazing
Whatever happens in whatever way, you are absolutely amazing. Bringing a baby into this world is a huge achievement and one you must not forget.
Be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up about anything–your birth may not go to plan and that’s fine. You may find that affirmation cards help before and after birth.
Take it one step at a time
The main thing is not to worry about all the above and take everything as it comes, one step at a time. Keep breathing and keep communicating with your partner and this will help you embrace all stages of labour and birth in as calm a way as possible.
How was your birth? Did it go as you expected, or did you end up going down an entirely different route from your birth plan?