When the birth process can be approached as a natural process, that a pregnant woman can trust, and when supportive birth practitioners honour its sacred nature, a baby’s birth can be an incredibly wonderous, magical, miracle of nature.
Unfortunately for many of us, our image of birth has been clouded by how it is portrayed on TV, in movies, and also by negative or difficult birth stories that are so often shared. Many of these births we hear about are highly medicalized with multiple interventions, where the birthing mom is given little control, and disempowered.
The following 4 steps will help to optimize the circumstances for a healthy beautiful birth, for both mom and baby.
1. Know that you have ‘options’ when it comes to your pregnancy and birth, and the power to make your own decisions around your birth. One of these decisions is choosing your birth care provider. You’ll want to find practitioners (obstetricians or midwives) who will truly nurture you while you are in labour, and who will offer you choices and respect your decisions (for example different birthing positions that use gravity to help the baby) and who will also be present with you throughout your labour (this can be difficult for obstetricians who have multiple hospital births at once). Know that if you are choosing midwives, you’ll need to notify the midwive centre in your catchment area as soon as you know you are pregnant, to be able to be assigned a midwife.
Another decision is deciding who you would like present and supportive of you during and after the birth. Consider reading books or taking courses together with your spouse or partner that will help bring together similar values and needs around the birth. (eg. Birthing From Within, Hypnobirthing, and the Bradley Method).
Another option you have is to find the best setting and atmosphere for your birth. Some hospitals have birthing centres furnished with their own tubs for labouring in water. And many more women are choosing the birth in the comforts of their own homes, with midwives, preferring it over the hurried drive to a hospital while in labour, the bright fluorescent lights of the hospital, the loud sounds and the hectic atmosphere of a hospital.
2. Surround yourself with postiveness around birth. For every negative story you hear while pregnant about difficult or long labour, read 3 positive stories. There are so many amazing beautiful stories out there. Choose not to listen to the negative ones. Create your own positive mindset, which will help so much when your own fears come up during birth. Remembering the good stories and joining these women will help you to stay in a trusting state, instead of going towards fear which will slow down the birth process, causing tension and constriction. You can find these stories online, in books and videos. Some resources are: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth book, by Ina May Gaskin, Suzanne Arms’ Giving Birth video, and online http://www.positivebirthstories.com
3. Get adjusted. Optimize your body for the gentlest, easiest birth by being adjusted regularly throughout your pregnancy. Find a chiropractor who is comfortable with and/or specially trained to work with pregnant women. When your spine and pelvis and sacrum are in their healthiest alignment, this opens up your pelvic outlet, where the baby comes out, removing restrictions, allowing for a faster easier birth. (studies show 30% faster). Your chiropractor also checks regularly the position of the sacrum and tightness in the ligaments supporting the uterus, to remove any tension or torquing in the uterus that can cause in-utero constraint to the baby. This is called the Webster Technique that is highly effective at gently removing constraint, so that most often a breech baby will turn head down on their own afterwards.
Most importantly, the adjustments help to optimize the nerve flow to the uterus and baby, for the baby’s healthy development.
4. Trust the birth process. When fears come up, and they are bound to, as we are only human, go back to that place of ‘letting go.’ Giving birth is one of the most normal natural things, and we see that when we watch an animal in the wild give birth. When we come back to that place of trust during birth, it allows the body to open up and soften to allow the process to unfold. When we move into our fears, it causes tension, slows the process, and tends to lead to mechanistic birth interventions (eg. pulling, forceps and vacuum extraction). Follow your innate intelligence, listening and trusting your body, as it was designed to give birth. Surrender your spirit, your body and your mind, and you will be amazed at how your body will open up to this dance of life, as your baby is born.
Jacqueline Tsiapalis, D.C.