Pregnancy is just the start of a journey, where both your body and mind are transformed to either begin the transition or add to your experience of motherhood. Whatever your mode of birth, no two experiences are the same, You may have gone in with no expectations, or planned every possible scenario, hypnobirthed, waterbirthed, chose an elective caesarean or required medical intervention to facilitate a safe arrival. What you are left with however, is a lasting memory that has the power to transcend other life experiences, whether positive or negative.
It is well documented in the literature that a women’s birth experience stays with her for many years, impacting many aspects of her life and decisions about future pregnancies. How you feel about the end result and describe to others has powerful implications not only for yourself image, but for the young women of the next generation preparing for their own labour of love.
We form our ideals about birth and parenting long before we start planning our families. Too often negative birth stories are shared sometimes embellished as a badge of honour and our media only report on tragedy or risk shaping a culture of childbirth fear. After years of conditioning, is it any wonder women have lost confidence in their own ability to birth, or see it as something to fear? Positive factors for protecting against childbirth fear have been identified as having a good relationship with your care provider who supports your birth choices along with a strong social network.
According to researchers, up to 20% of women now fear childbirth, and this can impact on birth outcomes. Fear may be a reason to elect for a caesarean section, or can alter the natural progression of labour leading to more medical intervention. Researchers have attributed these impacts to an interruption in a woman’s primal sense of safety, ultimately altering the natural hormones of labour. The hormone responsible for contractions is called Oxytocin, we release this when we feel safe and in love. When we have a sense of fear or danger, adrenaline & noradrenaline (our fight/flight hormones) are released which interfere with the rising levels of oxytocin causing labour to slow or stop. Other responses include a reduction in beta-endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, leading to an inability to cope and increased analgesia use, which in turn have their own impact on the natural physiological processes of labour and birth.
There is no wrong way to welcome your new life into the world, no one has a crystal ball and in the end the ultimate aim is for a happy mum and happy baby. If you are embarking on this journey for the first time, surround yourself with positive birth stories, education yourself and ask questions of your care providers until you feel informed and empowered by your own choice to birth.
If you have birthed before, and view your own personal experience as a negative one, be mindful these feelings and images may resurface and without malicious intention share snippets of details with expectant mothers. If this negative experience has had a lasting impact, it is extremely important to have open discourse with those involved if possible or a professional support group that can help unpack these feelings and more forward. Organisations such as https://www.birthtrauma.org.au/ or http://birthtalk.org/ provide women and their partner’s emotional and practical support that have been traumatised by a difficult birth experience.
Protecting young women from the ‘horror stories’ and changing the language and stigma’s we use about childbirth is not only important for expectant mothers, but for the mindsets of those that are to follow. Below are some links and suggestions for birth preparation.
Australian Birth Stories
Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond
Birth Skills by Juju Sundin
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Brilliant Birth & Beyond – Email at firstname.lastname@example.org – https://www.facebook.com/brilliantbirthandbeyond/
Mater Mothers Antenatal Education – 07) 3163 1918 – https://www.matermothers.org.au/hospitals/mater-mothers-private-brisbane/during-pregnancy/antenatal-education
Calmbirth – Katrina Ham 0404 029 274 – Email at email@example.com. and Suzanne Swan – http://www.calmbirthbrisbane.com.au/
Mr Dad – http://www.mrdad.com.au/
Active Birth – https://www.yogababy.com.au/pregnancy/active-birth-workshop/