Let’s talk about birth prep shall we? Because there’s a stat out there which says we spend an average of 15 months planning a wedding, and a few days planning the birth of an ACTUAL HUMAN BEING. That’s nuts. I’m a total planner, and while I know you can’t actually have a rigid plan for something that is so open to a gazillion different variables, it made sense to me to have a rough idea of what I’d like to happen in an ideal world. And prep for that.
I’m just gonna say one thing before I tell you about my birth preferences and prep. If you’ve already given birth and what you want to tell me right now is: “I did it all without any fuss or prep” or: “Oh, for goodness sakes you don’t need prep, get on with it!” then p@ss off. Honestly, just stop reading and leave me alone. Because I’m done being criticised for my choices and having to justify them to people. I’m over coming up with reasons why I’m doing things the way I’m doing them. My uterus, my choice — END OF.
That being said, I am obviously happy for anyone to share whatever opinions they want to share — in the comments, on social media….wherever. I’m just making a wee stand about having to justify things is all. Somewhat passive aggressive rant over.
Back to the birth prep.
I’ve had amazing fairy godmother type role models to help me in pregnancy and my midwives have also been dreamy, so most of what I’m doing is down to them. I have no idea if any of it will actually help, but it definitely has so far so I can’t complain. When you think about it, the actual labour is only going to be a day or two and I think prepping for, and enjoying the 9 and a bit months of pregnancy is just as important, if not more so.
I’ve been super lucky and have had a really lovely pregnancy so far. (Spoiler alert – fast forward three weeks and I have Pelvic Girdle Pain which is making me waddle.) But back to week 35 and things are tickety-boo. So, for me, keeping up regular exercise and eating normally has been really simple. I’ve been walking lots, and doing pregnancy yoga too which is far more than slightly more gentle normal-person yoga.
I’ve learned pregnancy specific breathing techniques to use during labour, gravity-positive positions and had a giggle every time the teacher tells me I can squat the baby out, and that it’s on a heroic journey.
All in all, worth it.
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I was seriously sceptical about this actually, so only started it fairly recently. I’m not totally sold on it, but my midwife was super positive about it and she’s been to hundreds more birth’s than me. I’ve only been to one, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t a super helpful participant in the process (I was three weeks late and I had to be pulled out with forceps!) so I feel like she knows best 😉
I also had a few compelling cases put to me and, well, I kinda though whatever – it’s worth a try. But to actually do a course costs an eye-watering amount (£200+), so instead I got an awesome discount and tried out the Calm Birth School run by Holly (Yes Mum Mum) and Suzy. It’s an online course and cost me around £60. You get stacks of free resources including yoga videos, meditation MP3’s, hospital bag & birth preference checklists……all in all it’s really good value.
There’s also no ‘woo-woo’ in the guided videos, and you get really practical info about the stages of labour, what to expect and how you can use your breath to get through it a little easier. The only negative is that it’s completely in your own hands as to how much you get out of it, which means…..well, you have to be an adult and make time to practice every damn day. I’ve not been amazing at this.
You have two choices here: NHS or NCT. The obvious difference being that you pay for one, and the other is free. The NCT classes also tend to be spread across several weeks, in shorter chunks and you get biscuits.
We chose the NHS option, because quite honestly I think the NCT is overpriced and the main benefit seems to be meeting other women at the same stage as you in your local area. But what if you get a group of total douchebags? Ain’t nobody got a spare £400 for that!
So Oli and I went to our NHS class, which was about three hours of talking about the various options for where to have your baby (at home, birth centre or on the labour ward) and the brief pro’s and cons to each. Then the medical chat about each stage of labour, what’s happening to your body and how to deal with pain. Also, some practical info about what to pack in your hospital bag, and what to expect from the NHS after the birth too.
Although I made contact with the ante-natal class coordinator in about week 20, the class wasn’t until this week so, obviously, I’d done my research already (your midwife will want to talk about where you plan to have the baby in week 34-ish) so we both felt pretty prepared, and there was zero new information for us. But for 80% of the class, it appeared to be a complete surprise they were expected to birth their babies. People were asking the most idiotic of questions: “What’s an epidural?” and basically all looked shell-shocked and terrified leaving with far more questions than answers.
Which also meant that if Oli and I had any questions to ask, there was neither time nor space for them.
Luckily, we were offered a last minute place on my yoga teachers birth prep class which we booked straight away. Less than the cost of hypnobirthing and NCT, the class covered everything from the start of labour to the bitter end with no scaremongering, lots of empowerment and loads of tips for the birth partners as well as the mama’s (I now get a daily massage!!!)
I’m not ashamed to tell you I was crapping it before this class, see my Instagram below for evidence! But afterwards I felt empowered, prepared and a whole lot more ready for the birth than I was before.
Odds & Sods
The amazing Yes Mum Affirmation cards have been brilliant, and even though some of them are a little woo-woo, in general I’ve been enjoying snuggling in my reading nook each day, looking at them and eating cheese. Just cheddar, don’t worry!
I’ve mentioned these books before but Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills book is amazing, as is Expecting Better by Emily Oster which helped me prep for judgemental questions about my birth choices like a boss.
I’ve also hired a TENS machine from Boots for early labour, and our doula is lending us a birth pool for the big event. The midwives will bring a little bit of gas and air for the OMG-KILL-ME-NOW part of the birth. Technical term, yo.
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Also published on Medium.