In preparation for my 2nd birth, I have been looking over all my antenatal notes from my 1st pregnancy. We did a weekend antenatal course with Cuidiu (Irish Childbirth Trust). This was an amazing eye-opener for me and my hubby. I learnt that my body was designed to give birth, my body could make the natural pain reliever (endorphins) as required, assuming I control my fears and panic- these natural endorphins would be able to be released. We learnt that this was our birth- no one else’s- definitely not the hospitals. So armed with the knowledge of the natural process of birth, as well as the hospital processes, we could make educated decisions during the labour. And most importantly feel that we owned the experience.
I would highly recommend doing some antenatal study outside of the hospital offered courses. The hospitals obviously explain all about their process and approaches, which may or may not be exactly what you want.
I also did a home study course on GentleBirthing. This is a hypnobirthing program developed by an Irish woman, Tracy Donegan. The idea behind it, as with the Marie Mongan Method of HypnoBirthing, is to remove the fear many women associate with birth, and replace it with positive images. I am practicing this again, and am finding I can reach the state of deep relaxation very quickly, and also my little one loves it. I find it a great way to connect with the little one, the minute I begin the deep breathing the little one starts to move around loads. He/she obviously feels I am relaxed and can communicate with me.
I am also reading a lot. I have been reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Child Birthing and have found it brilliant. I recommend it for anyone interested in a natural or “normal” birth. (Just on a side note- we are very lucky to have Ina May visiting
for the Homebirth Annual Conference, 29th April, see www.homebirth.ie.) Ireland
Another great resource I used near the end of my first pregnancy was Journey into Mothehood by Sheri L. Menelli, a book of birth stories. I was balling crying through most. So emotional, positive, and encouraging. I downloaded this book free of charge from their website:from Sheri's blog (http://smenelli.wordpress.com/):
"Please feel free to download this book of Journey into Motherhood and pass it on to other birth workers and expectant women.
A bit about Fear:
The majority of women have heard the horror stories, the scary birth stories, friends’ bad experiences, TV and Movies with women screaming their heads off, cursing their partners, swearing they will never let them touch them again. It is a touchy subject as well. If you have a lovely birth, like we had with Little Man. While it was uncomfortable, yes; long, yes; painful, no. Would I have done it again straight away?? Well, if I got a little rest first, then yes. I got up from my 1 or 2 stitches and had a lovely shower, and then I carried our baba back from the delivery suite to the maternity ward. No drugs to numb me or dose the baby, we began our breastfeeding relationship happy and alert.
But when you tell people this, they make out you have rose tinted glasses on. And I feel like I am boosting, which I hate and try hard not to do. I have heard comments that by telling your positive birth story, you are belittling the women who have a tough time, but this is not it at all.
Overcoming the Fear:
I very much believe in the philosophies of GentleBirthing, and Cuidiu (Irish Childbirth Trust) and the NCT (
’s National Childbirth Trust). That if women remove the fear (through education), and replace it with positive affirmations, a positive outlook towards birth (through education and deep relaxation in the case of hypnobirthing) then they have a big advantage towards obtaining their natural birth. Women need to stop listening or watching the horror stories surrounding birth and immerse themselves in positive stories and images. UK
A great idea I used (originally I came across it in Tracey Donegan’s GentleBirthing program, but have seen various types since) is to make a birth board- mine was simply an A4 page with images I felt represented how our birth would be, how our breastfeeding will go, how we will engage with our beautiful little one.
What are other people’s experiences or thoughts on birth without fear/pain?