Written by Doula Aynsley Rope
I want you to imagine that you have had your baby and have a friend around post birth for a coffee and catch up, what words would you want to use to describe your experience? They might include something like supported, loved, held, in charge, capable, informed, calm, or safe. Use these words as a guide on how you would want your birth to be. Whilst the look of birth can change you can still feel those emotions and feelings.
A great place to begin when preparing for birth is remembering to take advantage of the pre-existing motherly instincts and do what feels right and resonates with you. Each woman will have different ideas on how birth looks like and what will make them feel satisfied with their overall experience. Whatever route is chosen, I think we can all agree that every mother is striving for an experience that is positive! So, let’s block out all the noise and overload of information we often (unwanted) receive from work colleagues, the next-door neighbor, friends, family and your Auntie’s best friends daughters distance cousin (lets be real, everyone has their 2 cents to add!) – and try and simplify our options by exploring 10 top tips in striving for a positive birth experience.
1 Educate yo’self!
Attend an independent birth education class. By understanding the composition of your body and what is happening during pregnancy and particularly in the birth process, it can significantly help during labour to understand what is happening. This will allow you to feel more ‘in control’ and feel into your body, surrendering and trusting each step. Just as nature does, each hormone released during labour is directly linked to each physical sensation or emotion feeling and there is a purpose for it all.
By arming yourself with the knowledge of how the body works, it can significantly reduce the fear, release, tension cycle (which in turn reduces the failure to progress) and allow you to tap into the primal instinctual part of the brain, from this you can trust that your body is doing exactly as its meant to.
Also, continue to expand your education around birth beyond birth classes by watching birth videos and listen to podcasts of woman’s experiences in all variations. By normalising birth and opening your mind up you aren’t going to narrow yourself into a certain expectation of how it should go. Australian Birth stories podcast is great for this, each episode is different from the last.
Classes in Perth:
2 Know your options
Explore the various models of care available to support you and choose a model that aligns with your vision of birth. Explore the pros and cons of each and research the success rates for each program and/or institution in your area. For example, if you are striving for a natural birth in hospital, research how high the caesarian rate is at a particular hospital. Something to keep in mind when weighing up which option to go with is to ask yourself – does this are provider support my vision of birth? Are they receptive to what I am striving for? Create a list of questions to ask your potential provider to ensure they are offering the type of care you are seeking.
Research and know your rights around birth. There are policies in place in hospitals and with certain care providers that may clash with your preferences (e.g. inductions, particular interventions), you have every right to trump their policy. Keep in mind, pushing back on these policies in a hospital setting can feel uncomfortable, so have your partner know of your rights so they can advocate for you if you do not feel strong enough in that moment. Do not forget, this is a once in a lifetime experience, don’t let anyone take that away from you. Do what feels right for YOU, not them.
3 Hire a Doula
Doulas offer non-medical support with continuous emotional, mental, and physical support through pregnancy, birth and postpartum. It has been proven in research that doulas can bring improved outcomes for Mother’s and babies which include shorter labours, less or no pain medication and overall – woman are emerging from their birth feeling satisfied with their experience. Hiring a doula allows for continuity of care throughout the pregnancy and birth. By having a solid support person with you every step of the way, doulas can advocate for you and provide you with clear information which may not be provided in detail by the maternity system.
Hypnobirthing classes have many benefits to assist a laboring woman during birth. Learning hypnobirthing techniques can offer a natural form of pain management and can provide relaxation and comfort during the stages of labour. A hypnobirthing class include teaching mothers and their partners how to use particular deep breathing techniques, self-hypnosis techniques, birthing positions and how to tap into a state of deep relaxation. These techniques when applied in labour can help woman move into their zone and concentrate and can assist in managing stress and help with any fear-based thoughts that may creep in.
Classes in Perth:
5 Loosen up that body and get it moving!
Muscles and joints are stretching and being pulled in all different angles during the gestation period. There are many different exercises and stretches you can do during pregnancy to help loosen up the body. Alternatively, having a professional work on these tight areas can help elevate pain not only during pregnancy but can make a huge difference in birth and the postpartum period too. Research chiropractors and/or physios in your area that specialise in pregnancy and can assist.
Physio’s and Chiropractors in Perth:
Along with a good stretch, moving your body in a safe and effective way is just as important. It doesn’t have to be a sweat fest leaving you feeling exhausted, it can even be as little as 20 mins a day. Regular and low impact exercise such as walking, pregnancy yoga or Pilates can be hugely beneficial. Not only are there endless physical benefits in moving your body but it can also help you mentally.
Here are some exercise ideas in Perth to check out (specializing in Pregnancy), otherwise as I mentioned, get some fresh air, and hit the pavement.
At home exercises:
Classes in Perth:
6 Birth plans
When creating a birth plan it is important to keep in mind that as I mentioned in my introduction, although the look of birth can change and deviate, the emotions that you feel in birth are as important. When mapping out your plan, be bold, be brave and be clear about what you are wanting and what you are not wanting. Clarify your boundaries, list birthing props you would like to use, explain the type of birth you are striving for (physiological, non-physiological), the type of birth (in water, natural, vaginal), the environment you want to be in (calm, quiet, little distraction, dark, soft music). Don’t be afraid to be specific on these details, this experience is yours.
Birth plan template:
7 Listen to your body & rest when it’s asking you to!
We live in a fast-paced world with endless demands, errands to run, places to be, people to see. All whilst sometimes forgetting our body is experiencing a huge transformation, do not underestimate the enormity of this. Rest when you need to and don’t feel guilty about it, your body will thank you! It may feel like uncomfortable at first, just ‘being’ and having down time can feel unproductive if you are use to being busy (most of us are like this so don’t feel guilty about that either!). When we don’t say no, our body will for us. Meaning if we keep going without the required rest our body and baby needs, this is when we will physically start feeling the effects and this can turn into physical ailments. Calming the mind during pregnancy is vital for mother and baby, more on this can be taught in Hypnobirthing classes. There are helpful and effective apps and YouTube channels that can guide you through meditations and breathing exercises to slow down our busy minds, listed below:
8 Energy work
Energy healing work is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if it is – dive into it! There are various forms of energy work, the main one being Reiki. This is a form of complementary and natural healthcare that can bring an improved sense of wellbeing – emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Reiki is Japanese for ‘Universal Life Energy’. What to expect if you are new to energy work: A reiki practitioner will generally ask about how you are feeling, health history and if there are any current issues. From there they will ask you to lie down and relax and hover their hands over your body, generally starting at the head and working their way down to your feet, by doing this they will attune to what needs working on physically and what chakras need clearing to help balance them out.
For more information:
Practitioners in Perth:
9 Watch the documentary “Birth Time”
Birth Time is a documentary that was produced by 3 women (2 midwives and a doula). They explore the trauma that can be inflicted on woman in the Australian maternity system as they go through the life changing experience of birth. They interview various woman across Australia, midwives, obstetricians, birth right advocates, authors and so much more.
This documentary can be confronting as it can highlight the problems within the system. However, one of the main takeaways is to get educated about childbirth and educated in the right way. It may jolt a wakeup call within you and highlight what you want and most importantly what you don’t want on your journey to motherhood. This documentary will leave you feeling inspired, empowered, and ready to own your birth in a way you didn’t realize was possible! A must see, you can stream here: https://www.birthtime.world/stream-now
10 The sometimes forgotten fourth trimester
There can be a lot of emphasis on the pregnancy and the event of birth and of course there is, there is so much to prepare for! But sometimes the 4th trimester (once the baby has arrived earthside) can be overlooked with little preparation done. As woman emerge from birth not only have they just given birth to a baby, but they have given birth to a new version of themselves, which is a new mother to a new baby. This transition is a powerful rite of passage not to be underestimated. Here are some ideas to prepare yourself for this important part of the journey:
- Breastfeeding lactation consultant contacts on hand
- Discussing with your partner the changes that may occur like sleep deprivation, postpartum blues and how you both will cope and help one another through this change into parenthood
- Asking your circle of friends to prepare meals to freeze so you have them on hand
- Hire a postpartum doula (or ask if your current doula offers this service)
I hope these 10 tips have provided some guidance in preparing for your journey ahead.
Thanks for reading!
My name is Aynsley Rope and I am a birth and postpartum doula who has trained with the Doula Training Academy. If you would like to discuss your birth options, please contact me:
The Primal Doula
0414 190 784
Images sourced from: