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Is it ever a good idea to ‘just wing it’ when it comes to birth?

Is it ever a good idea to ‘just wing it’ when it comes to birth? 

This scenario played out countless times during my time as an antenatal clinic midwife.

Me: ‘How are you feeling about the birth? What sort of preparation are you doing?’

First time mum: ‘I haven’t really thought about it, I’d rather not know so I don’t have to worry about it. I’ve decided to just wing it and go with the flow. If I don’t plan, I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t turn out the way I want it to.’

I usually follow this up with an analogy ‘You wouldn’t run a marathon without putting in the training – birth is a marathon!

The average marathon trainer spends 2.5 to 3 hours running, three to four days a week for 16 to 20 weeks prior to the forty-two-kilometre race. On top of that, they practise energy preservation, cross-training, hill training, gut training. They build strength and endurance, tailor their nutrition, focus on getting enough recovery and sleep, train the mind to not fear the marathon and practice keeping a positive mindset. They choose a support crew to train with and keep them motivated, to be there on race day and whilst they recover.

Most runners will do a half marathon rehearsal, a simple twenty-one kilometres, to feel psychologically primed and ready so that race day feels familiar. When the big day rolls around the runner focuses on staying calm, following normal routines and preserving energy. During the final ten kilometres the runner pushes themselves, focussing on each kilometre they are in. They know it’s easy to get carried away with the work still to be done so they use their positive self-talk strategies ‘breathe and relax your shoulders’ ‘focus on the vest in front.’ As they approach the final kilometre, they find something deeper, a last rush of adrenaline to propel them forwards. They know they can get there – they’ve done all the preparation! How amazing it will feel to have achieved their goal. They can hear their supporters cheering them on as they pass the finish line.

This is birth. Preparation begins for most even before the baby is conceived. During pregnancy, parents have the opportunity to prepare themselves with knowledge, tools and support. The Positive Birth Program provides parents with evidence-based techniques and education to experience a positive birth. Like the runner in training, the birthing mother’s training incorporates self-hypnosis, massage and touch, relaxation, visualisation and breathing techniques. She chooses a birth support – a partner, a family member or a friend who will practise these techniques with her and be with her on her birthing day and whilst she recovers postpartum.

As her birthing day draws near, she thinks about her birth preferences and communicates them with her care providers. She asks questions and makes informed decisions, maintains a healthy diet, optimises her baby’s position, keeps her body active and recognises the importance of rest. She rehearses with her birth partner how her birthing day might play out and what tools she may utilise to stay calm, focussed and in control. She knows her body and her baby instinctively knows how to birth, and she surrenders to this miracle. She feels empowered, strong and the most immense sense of love and fulfilment. Her mind tells her ‘If I could do that, I could run a marathon.’

 This blog is written by Catherine Williams who is both a Midwife and a Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner in Queensland, Maroochydore. CLICK HERE for more details. 

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