In today’s world, we have unlimited sources of information on pregnancy, childbirth and parenting – all at our fingertips and our thirst for knowledge has never been greater.
But without expert guidance, sifting through vast sources of information can be at best overwhelming and at worst, cause unnecessary worry. Who hasn’t fallen into the clutches of Doctor Google after a late night panic search?
Then there’s the process we go through of seeking second opinions and reassurance from friends and family. It can be exhausting and I always end up more confused than ever!
Trust your team
That’s where the support of your care team and antenatal teacher can be invaluable. Trust your care team to put the safety of you and your baby first. And the education you receive from your antenatal teacher will enable you to have informed conversations with them and to work with them as a team.
We know that expectant mothers who feel supported and informed about childbirth are more likely to feel positive about their experience, regardless of the journey on the day. It’s crucial, however, that part of that education prepares them for the unpredictable nature of childbirth. No two births are the same so having practical tools to draw on for support is far more valuable than having a set ‘birth plan’.
Seek out positive birth stories
Remember, you are also perfectly entitled to change your mind about the choices you thought you’d make before actually going into labour. The aspiration for a ‘natural’ drug free birth is putting unnecessary pressure on expectant mums today. So much so that when that doesn’t happen, some feel ashamed, as if they’ve failed in some way. This is heartbreaking.
Similarly, those that have a positive experience or a relatively ‘uncomplicated’ experience feel they cannot speak up and share their stories for fear of offending others. This only leads to negative birth stories getting more of the limelight than they deserve or is truly helpful.
So if you’re expecting and some well-meaning friend is about to share their birth (horror)story – politely stop them! Let them know that you’d be happy to hear their story after you’re own birth. The advice I give women in my classes is to seek out positive birth stories and they are much easier to find these days. I point out to them that these births may still have elements of urgency or were very medicalised but the reasons these women feel positive about the experience overall is often the same: they understood the reasons for the decisions they needed to make, they still felt in control and they were able to protect their environment and preserve as many of their preferences as possible.
A healthy balance
Those of us who work in the antenatal sector would be doing expectant mums a disservice if we didn’t present a balanced, unbiased view of childbirth. Just as important, however, is to equip them with practical, proven tools to support them through what may be the single most significant event in their lives to date.