Pregnancy is something you can coast through without too much thought. Yes we get morning sickness, pelvic pain, can suddenly taste what the next door neighbours had for lunch, there are many experiences over 9 months. But labour!? Well that’s something else. It really is the great unknown to most and with all the horror stories of pain, its not surprising some people don’t really want to know much about it and would rather ‘just deal with it on the day’. Once I hit about 13 weeks, it all became very real and I remember thinking about child birth and going into a mild panic. Burying my head in the sand wasn’t working for me so I decided to go the other way and just arm myself with as much information as possible. And by that I don’t mean watching ‘1 born every minute’, which seems to have made everyone think they’re an expert. I mean real information with context. True, mothers have been dealing with it for thousands of years and somehow survived… without painkillers so this gives me hope. It just couldn’t hurt to arm myself with information so that when something happens, I’m not in as much shock, especially if it’s all compounded with the stress of labour as well. So here’s a summary of some of the things available out there:
Antenatal classes: Once pregnant, these are groups to help prepare parents for pregnancy, labour and parenthood.
NCT (National Childbirth Trust) classes: These are private, paid for antenatal classes with about 6 couples, run by the ‘NCT’ to help prepare parents for pregnancy, labour and parenthood. A great way to meet other parents in your area.
Prenatal Yoga: a great way to gain exercise, meet other mums, practice positions that will help prepare the baby FOR labour and good tips of breathing/relaxation methods DURING labour. You might think it’s a little hippy-ish but it’s worth a try. My classes were held by Julie Adam in Blackheath (07979 218 firstname.lastname@example.org).
Active Birthing: Active ‘labour’ is about pro-active positions/movements etc that can help you pre and during birth. it’s about not laying back and hoping for the best but turning women from ‘passive patients to active birth-givers’. If you’ve read Caitlin Moran’s book on ‘How To Be A Woman’, the difference between her 1st childbirth and 2nd is mainly denoted in a mental shift in expectation as well as a physical one, worth a read. So, the ‘Active Birthing’ classes take you through stage by stage, what to expect from labour on the day in physical terms to help aid a safer/easier birth and what you and your partner can do to help it be a better experience all round.
Hypno-Birthing: The best way I can describe this is mental preparation to help you during labour through breathing and visualization techniques. If for example you are visualizing a calm, positive scene that helps you to relax, you may relax so much that you ‘zone out’ or ‘go into a trance’. This relaxed state is a coping method to help you through childbirth and to put you in a more positive frame of mind.
- Why childbirth isn’t just about facts and figures… (birthandbabynetwork.com)
- Childbirth: why I take the scientific approach to having a baby (guardian.co.uk)