Congratulations on your pregnancy! I hope you’re feeling as well as you’re looking and that you and Harry are enjoying this incredibly special time.
I don’t think anything beats the anticipation of a first baby and I’m sure I speak for the nation when I say; we can’t wait to meet your little prince or princess!
I was thrilled to read that you’re considering all of your birthing options, including a hypnobirth in the comfort of your own home. As an experienced doula and Hypnobirthing Practitioner, I’ve attended hundreds of births (even one at Windsor Castle) and there is nothing I love more than helping a mother birth her baby in a way that feels right to her. Feeling empowered during labour is the best gift any woman can give herself and her new baby and hypnobirthing at home is wonderful ways to achieve this.
From what I’ve read, it sounds as though your in-laws aren’t very happy with some of your choices and I wanted to tell you why supporting you is absolutely the best thing they can do.
In my experience, the most important thing about birth preparation is making sure a pregnant woman feels fully informed and comfortable with her choices. Too many times, I’ve heard women say that they don’t care about how their baby is born; as long as he or she is born safely into their arms, nothing else matters.
I agree, a healthy baby is a very important outcome for any birth and I believe that goes without saying.
However, while the NHS choices website tells us that ‘giving birth is generally safe wherever you choose to have your baby,’ it’s reported that 28,000 women a year experience PTSD from their traumatic childbirth experience. So surely our attention needs to shift away from the baby, who will very likely be fine whatever happens, over to the expectant mother, whose mental wellbeing is at stake. The best way of doing this is by listening to her.
The moment someone else – a doctor or family member - takes charge of a pregnancy and birth, the mother becomes totally disempowered, pushed to one side and it’s likely that fear will take over. Positive choices that felt so right to her become replaced with overwhelming thoughts of “Perhaps I can’t do this.” This is not how birth was meant to be. Women, as well as all female mammals, are actually born with the physiological function of childbirth and the body knows how to give birth. Even if they don’t think they know – they do. As Virginia Di Orio wrote, “Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump, her lungs to inhale and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth.” Your instincts must be trusted.
Women also know, instinctively, where they want to give birth. It sounds like you believe a homebirth is the best option for you and I think it’s a wise choice. Creating a safe, calm and comfortable environment that feels right for you can, as Denis Walsh writes, ‘be the difference between a fulfilling or traumatic childbirth experience’. An optimal birthing environment usually includes a warm, comfortable, homely room, low lighting, soft music, hushed or no voices, space for the birthing mother to move around, sit or lie in various positions, familiar faces, comforting smells and familiar foods. In other words, your home. Anything that causes increase in adrenalin, such as loud noises, harsh lights, dismissive voices and terrible bedside manners are never going to be conducive to something as intimate as birth.
I imagine you’re a woman who has explored all of your options and looked into the facts and research surrounding homebirth vs hospital birth. I am also aware that you have the very best medical team around you, who are probably telling you that there is a greater chance of a positive outcome for your baby if you give birth in an obstetric unit. To an extent, it’s true: for a first time mum, there is a very slight increased risk of a negative outcome to the baby if she opts for a homebirth. 0.4% to be exact, so very, very minimal
What isn’t taken into consideration in that statistic are the risks the mum is exposed to if she has a hospital birth. No one ever talks about those, which makes everyone believe a hospital birth is risk free. In fact, there are some quite serious risks that have the potential to impact a woman’s wellbeing, such as longer labours, increased risk of medical intervention and most of all, an ongoing battle to have her thoughts and wishes heard. An increased risk of feeling disempowered, having a bad experience, feeling let down and in worst cases, traumatised. I don’t want any of those things to happen to you or indeed, to any woman!
First time births can be long and it’s true, they’re not always easy, but on the whole, they’re very safe for the baby. So the focus needs to stay on the mum and how this experience can be positive for her. It’s so important to rest and feel comfortable and most of all, like you’re in control. If things do start to change direction, or you feel the need for more pain management, the chances are, it will happen slowly, leaving you plenty of time to transfer to hospital if need be.
It’s so easy for the family, the press and friends to dismiss a mother’s hopes and wishes as alternative, hippy and unimportant. So long as the baby’s safe, no one seems to care about the mother. But they’ve got it wrong. A woman who examines her intuition, feels supported in her decision making and looks back on her birth as a positive, empowering experience is going to have a better start to motherhood. Which will not only benefit her and her baby, but society as a whole.
Whatever path your baby’s birth takes, I hope you feel informed and confident in the knowledge that you have a voice, and a choice. You know by now that a positive birth can come in all different guises, and the most unexpected and challenging of birth stories can still be wonderfully happy ones.
If you haven’t already, please consider hiring a doula, who will ensure your thoughts and feelings are listened to and acted on. It just so happens that I run a doula course and have trained some of the best doulas in the country. You can browse their profiles here they would be very glad to help you on your journey.
My wish for you is that you feel informed, inspired and supported and may your choices for yourself and your baby benefit from a firm and gentle foundation, based on love as well as instinct.
My hope is that you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you have within yourself everything you need to birth and parent your baby – and that you are looking forward to the unique experience of giving birth and becoming a mother!
Nature doesn’t compete with itself; it just is, and it is usually enough. You need to start believing this too: that you are enough, that you have within you what it takes to birth your baby and become a great mother.
Sending buckets of positive vibes for your baby’s birth and beyond!
I wish you all the very best.
Warm wishes and birthing sprinkle to you, Meghan!
All my love
Kicki Hansard is a member of Doula UK, however any opinions expressed on this blog are personal views and not necessarily the view of Doula UK.