Choosing birth preferences

During pregnancy, we are focused. On our body, our emotions and our health. And as our body changes, so do our emotions (sometimes on an hourly basis thanks to hormones!) and it’s likely that our health needs change somewhat too. Growing another human is a huge undertaking and one that must not be under-estimated. Give yourself credit for the amazing thing you are doing! But don’t forget that at the end of this pregnancy, comes the birth. Sounds silly, but many women focus on the day to day challenges of pregnancy, but when it comes to the birth not a lot of consideration is given to the logistics of it all. Then there are the women who give it a lot of thought indeed! It’s important to keep things in perspective, which is why writing a birth plan is often suggested. But instead of writing a plan that may not be kept, how about simply choosing your birth preferences instead?

Choose preferences, don’t plan

When we make plans, we often set ourselves up for failure if they go awry. And during pregnancy, labour and birth, nothing is set in stone. Childbirth cannot be predicted. We cannot know how labour will progress nor how baby will react. Unpredictable events cannot be planned for! So, writing a birth plan may seem like a sensible thing to do (and for many it is!) but it could be an idea instead to choose birth preferences that fit in with your expectations?

To be informed is essential, and if you are armed with all the knowledge of what is happening to your body, and what will happen during birth then you are in a better position all round. Knowledge is power, as they say, and being in the know will help you to feel more in control too. But remember that your baby does not know about your plans. No matter how well you have researched your ideal birth- you will still need to be flexible. So writing down your birth preferences makes a lot more sense than writing a plan, don’t you think? And when you do, you might find there is more that you can control than you originally thought…

Let go of the fear

It’s normal to feel fear and anxiety about birth. Television and films tell us that it is going to hurt, and depending on what book you read many of the experts agree. But it is up to you how you channel that pain. If you decide that you want to take pain relief when you’re in labour, research the different medicines that are available at your hospital. Make sure you know what each one does and what the side effects are, and write down your preferences. If you decide you will handle events differently, look into other ways to manage the pain and reduce fear and anxiety- hypnobirthing is excellent for this and we’ve already written a quick guide that you can refer to.

The most important thing is to release the fear, and you can do this by:

  • Read some birth stories. Fear of the unknown is destroyed if you know what is in store for you.
  • Talk about it. Let your partner and your midwife know how you are feeling, and ask questions too.

Make sure that you address your fears before you write your birth preferences and make sure that whatever it is that is causing anxiety is out in the open as soon as possible. The saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ really is true!

Create a positive birth environment

Another thing to consider when you write your preferences- where you are going to give birth. And how can you make it as positive as possible? Whether you opt to have your baby at home, a midwife led unit or in hospital, it has to be the right decision for you. And there are ways that you can make it a positive environment for you. Consider the following:

  • Lighting. Some women like to have candles to help create a calm and relaxing environment. Some hospitals can dim the lights for you and it’s worth knowing that bright lights can actually inhibit the progress of labour, so make it clear in your preferences how you want your lighting controlled.
  • Your sense of smell is very powerful and the aromas that you choose to have around you as you give birth are important too. Soft, pleasant and nurturing scents such as vanilla can help you to relax and are a lot nicer to smell than hospital antiseptic smells! Have some scented massage oil to hand and ask your partner to apply some when you need it.
  • Lots of women find listening to music during labour extremely relaxing, so if you have preferences make sure you bring your own music.
  • Food and drinks. During labour, you will need lots of energy to see you through your task in hand, so make a list of the types of food and drink you want- and the types you definitely don’!

When you write your birth preferences, discuss them with your partner so that you are both clear about the things you’d like to be in place when the day arrives- but remember that they are just preferences. Nobody knows what is going to happen, and if you are happy to remain flexible then you are more likely to retain control of the situation.

 

 

 

Happy Mummy = Happy Baby

The arrival of a new baby into your life will bring vast amounts of joy and happiness, but it is normal for new mums to feel confused and surprised by the physical, emotional and mental challenges that come from the novel responsibility of being a parent. This period of postnatal adjustment can extend for many months and is truly the biggest transition a woman will have to face. The change from woman to mother can leave many feeling overwhelmed, which is why it is essential that mothers feel supported during this time. Not only does this assist optimal recovery, having encouragement from those around her helps a new mother ease into motherhood more naturally.

However, strength and relief can also be found through natural therapies, which offer a way of balancing out hormones without using synthetic chemicals. The natural assistance that holistic therapies bring, allows mothers to not only nurture their babies but also ensures they feel nurtured too.

You have probably heard the phrase “a happy mummy equals a happy baby” before. This commonly used saying stems from the accepted truth that babies are sensitive to stress that occurs as a direct result of their own experiences or as a consequence of the emotions of those around them. From the parent’s perspective, if feelings of emotionally vulnerability or stress permeate daily life, then this can have an impact on the level of care they are able to provide their newborn. Parents that are consumed by stress and worry are not as attentive to a baby’s needs, which can result in the infant experiencing feelings of insecurity and isolation; feelings that can be detrimental to the mental and physical development of the child. If the parent’s lack of emotional wellbeing continues to go unchecked, this may produce long term effects when it comes to the emotional health of the child.

Complementary therapies can provide an array of advantages when treating physical, mental and emotional complaints. From boosting the immune system to relieving pain, improving sleep patterns to increasing energy levels and helping combat postnal depression, complementary therapies can help restore the body’s equilibrium naturally. When your body feels relaxed, it is more able to cope with everyday stresses and strains, and with sleep deprivation and hormone imbalances to contend with post-partum, complementary therapies can provide important tools for women to face the challenge of motherhood.

Recommended Holistic Therapies

Exercise

Getting back into shape after childbirth is a concern for many women. The effects of birth will permeate your physical self deeply, but light exercise and toning will ensure that you begin to recognize your pre-pregnancy body. Key areas that should be strengthened as soon as possible are the pelvic floor, back and stomach muscles, once approval had been given by your care-provider

Homeopathy

Homeopathy’s holistic approach towards medicine means that it encourages the body to heal itself. Non- toxic, and with an excellent safety track record, this natural treatment is particularly useful following labour, and can help you recover from hormonal balances. Homeopathic treatments also work well to address the common ailments a child faces within the first year of life, such as colic, cradle cap, constipation, and teething.

Try Yoga

Yoga classes are a great way of toning up while allowing you to bask in the deep relaxation the exercise provides. Yoga’s ability to supply relief to the shoulder and neck areas particularly affected by carrying a child, along with breathing techniques designed to lower anxiety, will also be a benefit for the months – even years – to come.

Postpartum Massage 

Massage therapy is one of the most beneficial therapies new mothers can undertake. Its ability to relax ensures that the task of motherhood will be met with a clearer head; after all, a mother who feels looked after herself is better able to look after her child. Not only does the practice promote feelings of well- being and emotional calm, it also has a wide range of physiological benefits. From draining excess fluids within the tissues and toning the abdominal muscles, to realigning the spine and pelvic structures, postpartum massage can speed up the process of your physical recovery in the most relaxing way possible.

Flower Essences 

Part of a progressive new field of alternative treatment, flower essences provide inner balance by using only the natural energies of plants. Designed to settle and soothe anxieties, they can help you to cope with pregnancy, labour and the relationship with your child after the birth. They come in the form of distilled plant preparations and use the key characteristics of the flower as a remedy for an emotional ailment.

Aromatherapy 

From the smell of baked bread to a lightly fragranced breeze, our sense of smell has long been known to trigger emotional responses – including the resurgence of memories from long-forgotten moments. This is because our sense of smell has its roots in the limbic system- the area of the brain also responsible for memory, as well as for the stimulation of the hypothalamus and pituitary glands. when these two areas are triggered, they can release positive hormones, which is why aromatherapy is particularly useful for enhancing feelings of well-being and calm.

Whether you choose to disperse the scent of aromatherapy oils around the home, use them in combination with a relaxing massage, or add a few drops to your bath water, the therapeutic benefits of their natural fragrances cannot be disputed.

Self – care 

Although many parents claim that sleep is a thing that escapes them on a nightly basis, there is nothing more important when it comes to your physical recovery and spiritual rejuvenation. Emotional and physical stress will only be increased when attempting to provide care for an infant while depleted of energy. Traditionally, new mothers are advised that trivial matters such as housework, cooking and entertaining should be shelved during recovery – and this is advice that should be heeded. Minimize any extra exertions, and always attempt to sleep when your child is sleeping, especially during the first six weeks after the birth. Of equal importance is ensuring that you’re eating the right foods on your road to recovery. Eat healthily, making sure you’re taking in extra vitamins, minerals, and iron-rich foods, especially if you are breastfeeding. Keep hydration levels topped up at all times by drinking water regularly or enjoying herbal teas, which have the added benefit of enhancing a sense of well-being. Nuts, seeds, and meat, as well as plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, are essential foods that should be on every new mother’s shopping list.