First time mum/referee/ sleeve snot wiper to a wild toddler. Designated household bum changer. Blogging about this motherhood malarkey from a refreshingly honest and unfiltered perspective.

How To Have A Positive Birthing Experience

I know so many people fear the dreaded labour. It has been drilled into us to expect the most excruciating, most unbearable pain in the world. Our ears have bled petrifying, possible scenarios, and we've been subjected to the worst of the worst, daunted with the scariest horror stories.
I don't agree with said horror tales. Labour is such an extremely, although wonderful, overwhelming, emotional and somewhat traumatic event. Imprinting this idea that you will endure the worst form of torture from which you have no control or can't escape from is imprudent.


I had been dozed with every horror story imaginable, I chose to ignore them. It served me no purpose but to flare up unnecessary anxiety. That's not to say that complications during or after labour can't arise but each experience is different to every mother and I think it's important to encourage Mums positively to ensure they are in the most healthiest mindset they can be in during pregnancy.

Well, I decided to write why labour is NOT the petrifying concept its branded to be. You CAN have a (okay, not painless) but enjoyable and bearable experience.  

I do believe in the belief that fear of something makes it worse. If you fear getting your blood taken because you anticipate it will hurt, then it will. If you fear going to a crowded room because you think you'll experience an anxiety attack, you will.

I was, perhaps oddly, always anticipating labour but in a different way. I was EXCITED to experience it, to deliver a baby, to feel the contractions that would lead me to meeting my son.

It truly is all about your mindset.

When I was in labour, to begin with, the pain really was like nothing I had ever experienced; it was unimaginable. When you're in so much pain, it's really hard to relax and focus and just take a minute to feel grounded. The gas and air gave me that window to collect my thoughts and gather myself.

I remember I began to panic when I was in labour, I was on all fours, clutching the gas and air tube like my life depended on it and all I could hear (and see) was the ticking of the damn clock someone thought ideal to place above my bed... I could see the time, not moving, going slower, and it started to bring me down; Will this ever end? It's only been 30 minutes since I got here, are you fucking kidding me? No, no, no, I can't do this! I can't keep going on. 10:30?! Why the hell has it been 10:30 for the last 9 hours?! (I was only in labour for 3 hours 55 so slight exaggeration there.)

It took every ounce in me to calm myself and remember what I had been practicing. I have listed a few things that really benefited me and helped me work toward a positive birthing experience:

DEEP BREATHING

I know, the last thing you want someone telling you when you're pushing a human out of your vag is some hippy, preachy bullshit assuring you that you just need to take deep breathes. It's okay, I'd probably punch them too.
But, deep breathing is a massive help. Learning to close your eyes and meditate on what your body is telling you, is key. 

I wouldn't say to just start deep breathing techniques as soon as labour is imminent. Start now. Even if you aren't expecting, it's a fantastic help for every day life. Set aside ten minutes of your day, find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed and start to work and focus on your breathing.

The way I did it, in labour, and during my pregnancy, was to close my eyes, concentrate my thoughts on absolutely nothing, but what was happening around me (*what noises could I hear? The dripping of a tap or a car backfiring outside, some poor bastard in the room behind me who was screaming at her husband with every push, etc), taking a deep breath through my nose, holding it for 5 seconds and then exhaling for 5.

Sound ridiculous? Work on it, try it. You'll notice how your body responds during labour and how it helps alleviate anxiety and hyperventilating. It also helps for a smoother labour and stops you and your baby from feeling distressed. 

*also research mindfulness for better explained techniques.

POSITIVE THINKING

If you didn't want to smack me in the jaw before, I get why you do now. You're scoffing, tutting at this, aren't you? It's not that easy, I can't simply THINK myself into a painless birth. 
The thing is, you really CAN. If you surmise that your birthing experience will be flooded with a sense of calm and tranquility, it will be. Yes, it will inevitability still be painful or scary but thinking with a different mindset, taking a different approach to how you chose to let the experience be, will cause it to unfold that way.


I know it may sound insane, that thinking of things differently can somehow change something altogether but it's so true. Our minds are so powerful. so bloody clever and we have the power to change our perceptions.
Mind, over matter.

CONTRACTIONS, WHAT CONTRACTIONS?

The contractions, holy hell, they did hurt a bit. Again, when my labour started my contractions felt like this indescribable stabbing pain, a knife being dragged across my stomach. I felt like I could actually feel my baby twisting around inside me and trying to get out my stomach, true alien style. I also had this immense pressure on my back like someone was sitting on my stomach and I couldn't breathe, this was the worst part, that PRESSURE, like gravity was hoisting me down to the pits of earth, pulling this feeling of heaviness down and some other unknown force was dragging me back the other way, in a tug of war. (I found positioning myself on all fours reduced this altogether).

The way I learned to focus my contractions was that every contraction was a wave. (stop rolling your eyes and stay with me here!) 

I pictured a beach, with a stone wall behind me. I would see the impending tide crash to shore but instead of being afraid it would submerge me in its grasp, I let go and allowed it to slither onto the sand. The water would brush my feet and then slide back to sea, impacting me but never drowning me. Each time, the shore got closer to the wall, the sand soon to be engulfed by the waters, the waves would become less, finally reaching their destination.

Every contraction was a wave, each time the wave came and went, it was one wave closer to shore, one wave closer to meeting my baby, the son I'd been dreaming of seeing for so long was so close. 
The fear melted. The worry was exchanged for excitement. I would welcome each contraction and feel it slip away, becoming bearable with every one. I felt this kind of strength, I felt in control (I'm a control freak, hellooo this was amazing to feel back with it!)

DON'T THINK ABOUT IT TOO MUCH

It's hard not to do, to lie awake and fear the impending labour, especially as the dreaded D-Day draws closer. I did the same, sometimes those bad little thoughts would slip through the cracks and I would feel swarmed by an anxiety that took my breath away. It's thoughts I learned to firmly shut down. 

It's expected to feel that rising anticipation, it's alright to feel afraid, or to cry. I was. I was absolutely terrified, I just refused to admit it, and I probably should have shared it with someone instead of internalizing it all. 
 
I don't like feeling out of control. Ever. And labour would bestow me that exact feeling. I wouldn't be in control of my body, I couldn't control the safe delivery of my son, I couldn't control if complications confronted us, and I couldn't control or ensure me and my baby would both be okay.
And that, that thought terrified. Me, a complete and insane control freak being completely out of control.

Try to close those thoughts. Write them down on paper and stash them in a drawer, express your concerns with your midwife or doctor. Talk to anyone who gives you peace of mind. 
But, whatever you do, don't let that fear take hold and swallow you up. You will be placed in the best care and you will do remarkably. 

Put these small steps into practice, I PROMISE, it will help in some, small way. Even if all it does is ease your anxiety, even if all it does it prevent you from hyperventilating when the clock strikes Labour Day.
Try these small tips, it doesn't matter if you're due in 5 month or 5 days, learning to think positively will, in turn, benefit you during labour, and on a whole.
You've got this, good luck.




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