December 02, 2021
Announced your pregnancy? I would put GOOD money on the fact that friends, family, colleagues (and even total strangers!!) have volunteered their opinions and their advice on all things pregnancy and birth.
It’s a bit like ‘no holds barred’ isn’t it. Suddenly its all up for discussion! Even though much of it is pretty private. And almost all of it is very, very individual.
In this article I’m going to debunk 5 of the most commonly shared pieces of unhelpful advice about pregnancy & birth. Because I’m certain that you’ve heard almost one of these…and they stand to be really unhelpful for you. In pregnancy, birth and beyond.
This one never seems to go away. You will hear it in pregnancy and you will hear it after birth. And of course we want a healthy baby! Who doesn’t?! But is that all that matters? Obviously not! Because it leads directly to the question… ‘well, what about me?’
You matter too. You don’t get a healthy baby at the sacrifice of a healthy, happy mum.
It can also be used to cancel how you’re feeling. If you’re scared about giving birth, or if you’re trying to come to terms with how your birth went, it doesn’t help to be told “all that matters is a healthy baby”. Because it's not all that matters.
You deserve better. A healthy baby is the absolute bare minimum! And your baby needs healthy, happy parents too.
If you’ve written a birth plan which sets out how you want “a straightforward birth with no intervention unless necessary, and hope to give birth in a birthing pool” – and you have only considered straightforward birth and see that as a fixed plan… then yes. You may well end up throwing that out of the window.
But the birth plan is not the issue there – the issue is the idea that a plan must be rigid and that it cannot provide for any alternative way of giving birth.
Birth plans are essential! They are the only way that your midwife knows what you want, what your priorities are, what makes you feel safe, and what are absolute no-gos. I always advise my clients to write not one but three birth plans – a dream scenario, and two alternatives. So that however you give birth, you can do it in a way that you feel happiest with, where as many of your wishes can be respected as possible.
So, sure, you may not have ideally wanted that unplanned caesarean – but isn’t it great that you gave birth whilst listening to your favourite play list, with the lights dimmed and your baby had immediate skin to skin contact and breastfed within their first hour (for example.) See how there’s so much to consider?
If you don’t already have my free guide: How to Write Your Birth Plan, enter your details here and receive yours now.
My final comment on birth plans is that so much of their value is in the writing rather than the actual birth plan. By writing your birth plan, you are more likely to sit down with your birth partner, do your research and find out what all your options are and decide what is best for you and your baby. Or – even better – complete a really great hypnobirthing & antenatal course!
Your first reaction to this? Fear! “Well labour and birth must really hurt if I need to take all the drugs….” And what does that fear do? It makes labour and birth more painful! So that’s really not going to help!
Secondly, you might choose to have all the drugs – but there will be a big part of your labour when you won’t have access to them! A lot of your labour will likely take place when you are at home, so it’s important that you have other tools & techniques to rely on, other than just the drugs!
Finally, its really important that you choose whether to take drugs (or not) from a place of information, not fear. Would you still choose a drug if you knew that it would increase your chances of having an assisted birth (eg forceps)? Would you still choose a drug if you knew that it might affect your baby and your likelihood of breastfeeding? In the right circumstances, you might! Choosing to take pain relief will sometimes be the right decision – and a positive, empowering decision – but it’s a big decision. And not one to take simply because your mate scared the living daylights out of you!
Oh, the bump comments! You’re either carrying too big or too small, and everybody has an opinion.
Being told that your bump looks big however will send you into all sorts of panics over whether you will be able to give birth to your baby. And this affects you in a number of ways. Not only will it mean that your last few weeks of pregnancy are more stressful, it will affect how you plan your birth.
Not only is bump size notoriously poor at predicting the size of your baby, so are ultrasound scans in late pregnancy. So you may be worrying over nothing!
Finally, when you understand how birth works, the size of your baby is much less of a concern. Because you know all that you can do to support your body to birth your baby, and just how well designed you are for birth.
Its not! It’s just not!
Firstly, Your baby is not the size or shape of a watermelon! Your baby is working with you to be born. And they have a soft, malleable head which changes shape to aid the birth process! I’ve never seen a watermelon do that…
Secondly, your bum was not designed to pass a watermelon! Your vagina was designed to birth a baby. It is designed to unfold and open to many, many times its usual size - and being relaxed, upright and mobile will help you to birth your baby more easily.
So the next time you feel an unhelpful comment coming your way… give yourself permission to say “no, ta!” Protect yourself. You don’t need that stress in your life – and neither does your baby.
If you’d like to prepare for birth with more positivity, feeling informed and calm, rather than stressing about all the negative rubbish that you’d heard, have a look at my hypnobirthing & antenatal courses. I am a straight-talking, supportive voice who will transform the way you approach your birth.
Book in for a free call if you’d like to know more.
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NCT classes cover a broad range of topics and can give a good overview of the things you’re going to face as a new parent – whether that’s the stages of labour, your options for feeding your baby or how to change a nappy.
If you are wanting to prepare for birth and parenthood in more detail, here are some brilliant further options!