*UPDATE: My waters broke at 33 weeks and so I couldn’t have the water birth I hoped for. BUT I did have a natural birth with no pain relief. I’ll do a birth story one day but a few of the things that helped: meditation, relaxing music, affirmations and literally pouring cold water on my body haha.
Let me start by saying I’m not completely naive here, I know that birth is unpredictable and anything can happen. If I wrote this last year, I would have said how I am ‘planning’ to have a birth but I quickly realised that birth can’t be planned and instead, we can only prepare for it. I’m also not against pain relief but having had such a bad reaction to most medications in the past, we will go into this with the mindset that I can cope without pain relief but it’s there if I absolutely need it.
I’ve heard so many horror stories when it comes to birth but seen/watched/read some really lovely ones too. I want to go into this feeling positive and prepared for it all! So, this is how I am preparing for what will hopefully be a natural water birth but if I need assistance or a c section, I’ll at least remain calm throughout.
Intuitive Birthing Class
We recently attended the Intuitive Birthing session at Malaak in Dubai with Cecile and I highly recommend it. Cecile is amazing and full of experience, tips and knowledge when it comes to all things birth, mama and baby – I highly recommend the classes. In this class we looked at breathing, relaxation, positions, partner support and much more. I loved that partners had an equally important role in this session and we took away some really useful tips on preparing for a calm birth, including:
- Relaxation anchors including breathing techniques and hypnobirthing breathing methods
- Birthing positions (I will NOT be on my back for sure)
- Fear release
We’ll be using all of the above in our preparation for a calm birth.
I’m part way through Mindful Birthing: Training the Mind, Body and Heart for Childbirth and Beyond by Nancy Bardacke on Audible. I’m really into mindfulness and have been for the past few years so I find this book both useful and familiar. It’s a 15 hour audible book that sort of follows a course/class outline, and comes complete with a 40 page downloadable PDF including meditations – super useful to follow as you listen to the course over a number of weeks. It is more focused on remaining calm, present and alert during birth but I like it nonetheless.
I’ve also downloaded Hypnobirthing Home Study Course Manual: Step-by-step Guide to an Easy, Natural and Pain Free Birth on Audible by Kathryn Clark. I believe this one will provide a more practical overview of hypnobirthing so combined with the above, it should help me prepare well.
I’ve listened to the same relaxing music for the past few years – usually when I try to recreate a little spa in the bath at home – and so it seemed perfect for birth. I am hoping for a water birth so I’ve listened to this music in the shower/bath since the start of my pregnancy, which means baby may actually recognise it in some weird way. Who knows. Anyway, it’s just a really lovely, calming soundtrack that I associate with relaxation and will listen to it when I labour in water – you’ll find it on YouTube here.
This could be slightly different to if we were giving birth back home in the UK but in Dubai, we’ll need to have all of our documents ready for admission to hospital including marriage certificate, insurance documents etc. I’m sorting all of this beforehand so that it’s ready on the day.
Likewise, other items like a birthing ball I’ll take with me (I aim to be as active as possible) and I’ll have my hospital bag ready by week 33/34. I’ll probably do a separate post on what I am packing in my hospital bag for a water birth but also for other eventualities.
A birth plan wasn’t something I was too concerned about but now I am set on it and have my first draft. It just means that the midwives know what I would like during birth, and what I don’t, but also important factors including whether we are doing cord blood banking (which we are) and what pain relief I definitely do not want (including my growing list of allergies).
I’ve also outlined the role my partner will have, for example, if I end up having a caesarian I would still like immediate skin to skin contact and if this is not possible, then my husband to have that contact straight away instead. I feel much more confident that my wishes will be taken into account having this plan in place.
I’ve asked so many midwives and doctors questions over the past month to see what works best, what remedies to avoid and how to use the below. I’m not a doctor so please don’t take this as given and definitely seek medical advice first…but it is what I’ll be using:
- Perennial massage from 36 weeks to reduce the risk of tearing
- Evening primrose oil orally from 36 weeks to soften the cervix
- Eating up to 6 dates a day from 36 weeks will supposedly shorten labour
- Arnica from 39 weeks (but not on the day of birth) – to help with healing
- Essential oils (not on my skin but a drop on a hanky or something) to smell during labour. I’m thinking something uplifting like citrus but haven’t decided on this yet.
If you know of any other natural remedies, please do share. I’m open to suggestions for a quick, natural birth (aren’t we all)!
I haven’t covered it in the above but one thing that has really made me feel comfortable about birth is that my husband has embraced the whole natural birth scenario. He’s taking an active role with massage etc (plus he’s preparing a cool box of food haha) and so I feel much more confident about trying for a natural delivery. Also, I won’t have any family in Dubai when I give birth so it makes it that little bit easier.
After writing this blog post I am surprisingly feeling really excited and can’t wait to do a birth story to see how it actually happens. No matter how our baby arrives into the world, whether it’s the natural water birth that we’d love or assisted delivery, all of the above will surely help to prepare for a calm birth and for that, this preparation malarky is worth it!