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What is a Positive Birth and how do I get one?

What is a positive birth? A positive birth means a birth in which a woman feels she has freedom of choice, access to accurate information, and that she is in control, powerful and respected. A birth that she approaches (probably a bit nervously!) but without fear, and that she then goes on to enjoy, and remember with joy.

Is it only for hippies or people who want a natural birth? Definitely not, I believe anybody can have a positive birth. It does not have to be ‘natural’ or ‘drug free’ – it simply has to be informed from a place of positivity as opposed to fear. A birth that respects a woman’s human right to choose where and how she has her baby.

You can birth with positivity in hospital or at home, with or without medical intervention. You can have a positive caesarean, or a positive home water birth. As a GentleBirth instructor and someone passionate about positive birth I have found a few things really help women have an empowering and memorable birth experience. These are my top tips for a positive birth:

Avoid negativity

Perhaps you have already met people who have increased your nerves around birth. Those well meaning friends and family members who can’t wait to tell you how awful labour is. Or perhaps you find yourself anxious after another episode of “One Born Every Minute” or “Call the Midwife”. This does nothing to help your mindset for a positive birth. Find people who will uplift you, encourage you and keep you feeling excited about what’s to come. Find like-minded groups, both in person and online - and maybe give overly dramatised birth shows a miss.

Gentle exercise throughout pregnancy has many proven benefits.

Keep active in pregnancy and labour

This doesn’t mean you need to sign up to do the next half marathon - but getting out for regular walks, swimming, joining a pregnancy yoga class or other gentle exercise can keep mind and body healthy during pregnancy and can help reduce complications for birth. Being upright and mobile in labour is associated with shorter labours, less pain and less fetal distress.

Get Informed - do a birth preparation class

Traditional hospital birth preparation classes often focus on what can go wrong in labour rather than what can go right. In an independent childbirth class you’ll learn about your hospitals policies as well as all of your options for the big day so you and your partner can navigate any decisions that need to be made more confidently. An independent instructor works for you – not the hospital.

Prepare your Partner

A well prepared partner is one of the most important tools in your labour toolkit. Partners can often feel sidelined in the delivery room but with support, information and training they can be the rock you need on the day for emotional and physical support. Your job is to focus on staying in the zone - your partner’s job is dealing with everything else.

Written Birth Preferences

Written birth preferences are a wonderful way to communicate the kind of birth you are hoping for. You may never have met your midwife before the big day, so your written preferences make it easier for them to get to know you and your wishes quickly, without you having to repeatedly explain your preferences to care providers while in labour. It’s not a contract or guarantee but helps you and your partner discuss your options and access the best possible, individualised care rather than the standard hospital protocols which may or may not be evidence based.

Download the GentleBirth App

Full of lots of tips, evidence based info and advise along with affirmations, hypnobirthing tracks and guided mindfulness and meditations to train your brain for birth! There is a lot of evidence coming out in the maternity and brain science world about the benefits of brain training in a positive birth so this app is at the cutting edge of brain science! You will also be added to the GentleBirth online support network with other expectant Mums, midwives and birth experts. There's also a free trial period!

Labour in Water

Labouring is warm water is known as the midwives epidural! The evidence shows deep warm water immersion shortens labor, reduces pain and allows for greater freedom of movement. Have a bath at home in early labour, and be sure and enquire about birth pools and baths in your hospital.

Build a “Toolkit” for Labour

Give yourself plenty of options of things to use for relief and comfort on the day. Throughout your pregnancy put together different tools to try on the day - a TENS machine, acupressure, birth ball, music and mental strategies can also help you feel calmer and more in control. Medication is also part of your “toolkit” – keep every option on the table for the most positive birth possible.

Focus on the positives and what can go right, not what can go wrong.

Despite what you see on TV in most cases birth goes really well for healthy women and babies. Your mindset heading into birth is hugely important. Prep your brain in pregnancy to prepare for a calm, positive birth, whatever direction that birth takes.

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