We’ve known for a while now that, if we want our money to make us happier, we should be spending it on experiences, not on things.
A twenty-year study by Dr. Thomas Gilovich found conclusively that happiness which comes with spending our money on possessions doesn’t last for very long whilst the opposite is true for experiences, which continue to bring us joy long after they are over.
His research found that:
On some level, I’m convinced we don’t really need research to tell us that spending on experiences can be something really positive. If you look at the average cost of a wedding in the UK (over £27,000 in case you’re curious!) or foreign holiday (the average holiday cost for a family of four is nearly £4800) you see that we are happy to spend on a special and memorable event. So why do we not apply the same logic to spending when it comes to our birth experience, the births of our children, arguably being one of the most important and transformative days in most parents’ lives?
Hang on, you might be thinking. Everyone knows you can’t buy a perfect birth…
It’s true, of course, that no one can truly know in advance what will happen when their baby is born. You might be planning a drug-free home birth, and end up needing medical intervention in hospital. You might be booked in for a private Caesarean only to give birth on your sitting room floor the week before you were scheduled to go into hospital. I could go on, but I think you get the idea!
What you can do, however, is invest in yourself as you prepare for your baby’s birth, in order to give yourself the highest chance of achieving the birth experience you are hoping for - and to know that if the plan changes, you are well prepared to make informed choices.
The more time you invest in learning about what happens to your body (and your baby) during childbirth, how different surroundings might impact on your labour, what your options are, and all the ways in which you’ll be able to increase your comfort and stay calm, the more able you will be able to truly embrace - and perhaps even enjoy - the birth your baby!
You might invest in:
It is not for me to tell anyone how to spend their money. But I do wonder; if we put a fraction of the energy and financial resource that we put into planning a wedding or a dream holiday, into our baby’s birth, how different would the landscape of childbirth look? If we stopped thinking about all the things we need to buy for our babies - expensive travel systems, vibrating bouncy chairs, top-of-the-range baby monitors - and focused instead on learning about what babies really need, and how to soothe, feed, and care for them, how different would our experience of those early days, weeks, and months feel?
Want to find out more about how you can prepare for a positive birth? Book your place on Your Birth, Your Way, my pioneering online antenatal course - or just pick and choose the module that suits your needs!
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.