I am often asked in my classes - what should I be doing antenatally to prepare for baby's arrival?! Am I doing 'enough'?
It's true, there is so much information out there, and perhaps lots of friends recommending various things. It is amazing that we have many courses (online and in person) to choose from - yoga, doula support, hypnobirthing, NCT, books, courses, one to one antenatal preparation...
What do you want?
Ultimately, what we're looking for here is that you feel confident, knowledgeable and equipped with tools and techniques to support you during pregnancy and birth, so that it's a calm and positive experience as possible. Every one of those above courses/classes offer an approach to antenatal preparation and a certain perspective on that.
We know that it's so important to prepare our bodies for birth, as well as preparing mentally and emotionally. It's likely that multiple sources of support can offer this holistic support.
One important thing to note, is that just by watching the videos, or turning up at the NCT group, does not guarantee you any kind of birth. Of course nothing will guarantee it, but there are things we can do to bring us closer to that positive, empowered experience that we all hope for.
Recommendations for online/in person birth prep:
Gloucestershire based https://thebumptobabychapter.co.uk/
Recommendations for evidenced based online information:
What else might be helpful?
Whether you're planning a homebirth, midwife led unit birth, or hospital birth, you will be birthing within the NHS maternity system. It's a really good idea to understand what this means, how the system works with us, and how it doesn't. As an individual, you do not fit within boxes - there are some sources of information here that explain what your rights are as a pregnant and birthing person, and offer guidance based on evidence and consultations with professionals in the field.
https://www.nice.org.uk/ and specifically antenatal care here https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng201/resources/antenatal-care-pdf-66143709695941
- It takes time to really absorb the information and explore how you feel about certain aspects of birth. Start whenever you can (it's really never too late!) but ideally somewhere around mid second trimester you may start to get into the birth mindset.
- Online courses may be convenient and cheaper, but consider whether you feel motivated to engage in the learning and information. Some people find they get more out of in person support, where they can ask questions freely.
- Are you doing your birth preparation WITH your birth partner (if you have one)? It's common for the pregnant person to do lots of research and practise - if you have a birth partner you will be relying on them for various things, some of those things may be advocacy, physical support in labour through comfort measures, understanding choices...your birth partner is so integral to your experience and they need to be involved in the preparation too.
- Have an overview. There's many paths your birth could take, but generally we know it will either be a vaginal birth (with or without assistance) or a caesarean belly birth. Do you know what it might mean to be in those situations and what your preferences would be in that instance? Does your birth partner know too? Doing the preparation beforehand means that you're more likely to feel calm and in control if things do go 'off plan'.
It's all within
Yes there are lots of ways to prepare for birth. The most important thing to connect with and hold on to, is that you have everything you need to birth your baby, truly. It's your body, you know it best. You know your baby best. This intuition and insight is what should always guide us.
Lots of birthy love,