Kelly Austin

Top 5 Tips for a Positive Birth Experience

So here we are, pregnant! It doesn’t matter the journey to how we got here, we’re here now and the next journey is upon us. So where do we start? It may seem a little eager to be planning your positive birth in the early months of pregnancy but I think it needs to be reworded… Positive pregnancy and birth planning. Planning a positive birth experience significantly improves our pregnancy journey as well. Here is my top 5 countdown. 

5. Choose Wisely

One of the earliest decisions we make in pregnancy is our maternity care provider. The thing with making this decision so early on is that most women don’t know what kind of birth they want until later in pregnancy. Often our birth experience is heavily dependant and almost decided on when we choose our care provider. It’s important to think about what kind of birth experience we want and who can best help to support you in achieving this. There are so many models of care available in Australia

  • Private Obstetrician (In a private or public hospital)
  • Private Midwife – Home Birth, Birth centre birth, hospital birth
  • Hospital Team care – Midwife or Dr lead
  • Midwife lead public hospital care (MGP – Midwifery Group Practice)
  • CMP – Community Midwifery Program

…and in some cases we can blend these models. So you can see that the options for birth are huge! Do your research, meet some care providers, find what works best for you.

4. Get Educated

One of the biggest things I hear from women after the birth of their baby (usually pregnant with their second at this stage) is that they wish they knew more gong into their first birth.

One of my favourite sayings is ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’ and I think it sums up early pregnancy so well.

There are so many options for pregnancy and birth education and most women wouldn’t know that 90% them are out there. Knowledge is power ladies! The more we know, the more questions we ask, the less we report feeling trauma due to unexpected twists and turns and therefore allowing us to have better birth experiences and outcomes.

All the evidence points to women have better birth experiences after going through some form of antenatal education.

So whats out there? Your hospital (public and private) will offer some form of antenatal education. Due to the year that was 2020 and all the changes that Covid 19 bought us, a lot of these educations options have gone online and depending where you are there may be face to face options again.  I would never encourage couples not to attend the hospital provided classes, I would however recommend also looking into and attending independent antenatal education. Hospital based classes can often be heavily tailored towards teaching their own personal polices and protocols and couples can feel as though they don’t have options to explore. Independent education provides a wider scope of knowledge encouraging couples to explore ALL their birthing options.

Here’s a few of my suggestions to explore

The Positive Birth Program  - Hypnobirthing Australia (Face to Face & Online Options Australia wide)

Yoga Studios offering Active Birth workshops (Click for a Perth based recommendation)

Optimal Maternal Positioning  - Ginny Fang

Antenatal Breastfeeding workshops

This truly just scratches the surface of what is available, do some research, find what vibes with you and get educated.

3. Build your toolkit for birth

So I mean this figuratively and literally! When I say toolkit for birth, it refers to the tools and techniques we practice through pregnancy and can implement on the day of our birthing. These can be anything such as OMP techniques, Active birth skills, breathing, massage, relaxation tracks, scripts and music (to name a few). This planning all stems back to one of the first things I mentioned, casting your mind forward, and thinking about what you want your birth and birth environment to look like and then developing the knowledge and skills to make it a reality.

Your birth space is such an important tool, we all know that when we walk into a relaxed and calming space we feel safe and at ease, when we walk into a bright, stressful noisy space we feel heightened and often stressed and uncomfortable. Imagine walking into your birth space and feeling completely safe and at ease… what does that look like for you? Start there, imagine the space and then make it a reality.

2. Avoid negativity

I think we could probably all admit that at some point in our life we’ve told a dramatic story because we know it’ll get a big reaction. The unfortunate thing when it come the pregnancy and birth is that there are so many negative stories around and when you’re pregnant people feel the need to share them with you. Now I 110% feel that if you have experienced a traumatic birth experience that you should be supported in sharing your experience so you can process, debrief and find comfort and closure, so please don’t think this next part is directed at you!

When planning and preparing for a positive birth experience it is imperative that we stay positive, avoiding negative stories, traumatic stories and other people’s opinions about your choices is key! I often hear women say after we have discussed this element of preparation that when they decline to hear a negative story or experience they are met with the rebuttal of

‘You need to hear these stores, you can’t go in thinking everything will be perfect because if something goes wrong you’ll be disappointed’

This is not how we prepare, this element of preparation is why we do antenatal education classes, to learn about potential issues, common interventions and the cascade of interventions it can cause.

Avoiding negativity in birth preparation allows us to focus on the incredible ability our body has to conceive, carry and birth our babies. It allows us to be open to what our body is capable of whilst understanding potential complications and being able navigate that journey calmly.

So ladies (and gents, because boys tell stories to!) keep it positive, someone else’s birth experience does not determine your experience.

1. Support Team

So here it is, my top tip for a positive birth experience is having an A grade support team. Birth support can look different for everyone. Some women envisage a room full of people – their partner, mum, sister, cousin, best friend, midwife, doula… the list goes on. For others (like myself) my dream team was just my hubby and I (and our care provider). The goal for us personally going into our first birth was that we were so prepared, educated and empowered that we felt comfortable as our own team.

So how do we know who to ask for support and when do we ask for the support? well the choice is yours. I often recommend to couples that unless their 100% sure right off the bat that they want a particular person/people in the room with them, then to hold off asking. Start by navigating the early days of pregnancy, finding your care provider and planning your education before deciding who will share this special moment with you.

The key with building a supportive team is making sure you’re all on the same page, this includes your chosen care provider.

A client once asked me ‘what if I just labour away and when the midwife says it’s time to call our Ob for the birth, I ask her not to call her?’

So a little bit of background on this client, She chose her care provider after getting recommendations from friends. This OB has supported a number of her friends through their labours and births and were happy with their care and experience. As the pregnancy progressed and this client learnt more and more, she started to ask questions, build her birth preferences and gain confidence in her ability to birth. The more she learnt, the less supportive her provider became. Flash forward to 37 weeks pregnant, she sat down with her birth preferences and her OB, Her OB didn’t support her wishes as they were ‘too hard to facilitate’ and she was ‘too busy’.

This client left her private OB at 37 weeks of pregnancy, transferred to a different mode of care and at 40+6 she birthed a beautiful little baby, in the water without medical intervention by a safe and supportive care provider who wanted to honour her wishes.

One of the most important things to know is that you always have a choice, your care provider is a part of your team. Know your worth and don’t reside yourself to subpar support.

So there it is! My top tips to a positive birth. 

Wishing you a beautiful, calm and positive birth experience

Kelly x

 

Img by @kw.image

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