First of all, YOU ARE A BADASS so get used to it. You are amazing. Not just because you are growing an actual freaking human being all on your own – just you, no one else – but also because of all of the wonderful perfectly-imperfect things that make you you. So you’re awesome. Deal with it.
As a feminist birth coach and all-round believer of the sheer awesomeness of females I have ten tips I want to share with you to help you totally kick ass in the birth room. Here goes it….
1. Believe You Are a TOTAL BADASS
If you don’t believe in your ability, your body’s ability to give birth like a queen, who will? I know it’s not as simple as just deciding to believe in yourself, especially as you have probably, like most females, received a hell of a lot of negative bullshit since you were a tiddler regarding birth, our failing bodies, how birth is traumatic, how most of us need help yada yada yada.. To help you believe in your awesomeness I seriously recommend you surround yourself with positive people. Also, read LOADS of positive birth stories….trust me, they’re out there, in their millions. Go to Tell Me a Good Birth Story for a start or find a Positive Birth Movement meet in your area. If you continually read about the awesomeness of others you’ll start to see it in yourself.
2. Own Your Power
Take responsibility for your birthing and start NOW. It may come as a surprise but it is astounding the amount of control we can have over how our birthing will play out, how comfortable it is, how satisfying it is, even how safe it is. Taking ownership over the process and the decisions makes a huge difference to how women feel post-birth, whether they experienced medical intervention or not, whether it went to plan or took an unexpected turn. I know all too well that in our culture “feelings” are not always regarded as top of the list of priorities but believe me, your feelings matter, especially when you are setting out on the crazy ride that is motherhood.
3. Have the Highest Expectations of Your Support People
You need the very best support around you at a time when you will likely feel powerful but vulnerable at the same time. There shouldn’t be any question of your birth partner’s ability to support you the way you want to be supported and willingness to advocate for your wishes if needed. If there is any doubt in your mind this could quite possibly have an affect on yours and your baby’s experience of birthing. So if you have concerns now about the birth partner you have chosen, talk it out with them and if they can’t be resolved to the point where you feel 100% confident in them and over the moon to have them by your side, then seriously consider getting another birth partner, alongside or instead of. It is natural to worry about hurting people’s feelings in a situation like this but this is sooooo important and really the only person who matters is you. Likewise for healthcare professionals. You should expect that every professional that you come into contact with during antenatal appointments and your labour, has the highest respect for you. You are growing a human and you are birthing that human. You deserve respect for that.
4. Know Your Shiz!
Part of taking responsibility for your birthing is being able to make confident, informed decisions. Place of birth, pain-relieving medication, any interventions that may be offered to you etc. are all significant decisions to be made that will affect your labour so being armed with knowledge about these things is the key to being in control along the way. To know in your heart that you have made the very best decisions for you and your baby is beyond price.
5. Ditch the Bullshit
Forget culture, what most people choose, what your friend did when she gave birth. This is your story and you need to make the best choices for you and your family. If they happen to go against the status quo and even stir up controversy for being unusual choices then so be it. What most people do is not necessarily the best thing to do, right? And not necessarily the best thing for you because you are an individual. Don’t let cultural bullshit rule you.
6. Be Prepared to Drop-Kick People
Okay, not literally of course. I’m not the violent type. But yes, be prepared to metaphorically drop kick anyone who is trying to slow down your train of awesome. Whether it’s a well-meaning friend who just wants to “prepare you” by talking about how much it’s going to hurt or a midwife who unnecessarily effs up your positive vibe at an appointment. Don’t shy away from telling them what’s what….what birth you are aiming for, what you do and don’t want to hear, why it’s not okay to be like that. As females, many of us have been taught from a young age to be nice, quiet and agreeable…but fuck that….this stuff really matters. What you hear matters, how you are treated matters. Plus…..rebels rule!
7. Do a Hypno-birthing Course
Yes, I’m a Hypnobirthing teacher but still, what Hypnobirthing helps women achieve all over the world is just amazing. If it’s your kinda thing book a local course, do an online course or teach yourself with a book, mp3 tracks and Google. If it’s not your kind of thing….. look again. We’re not all hippies you know. There are an increasing amount of teachers who are down to earth, straight-taking, no bullshit kinda folk. It’s not about the “perfect birth” but about a birth that is right for you, whatever that looks like….and it’s all based on science and makes total frickin’ sense.
8. Think Orgasm: yes, yes, YES!
Oh….yes. Orgasm. Did you know that the same hormones that flood the system to enable us to orgasm are exactly the same hormones that flood our system in order for birth to be smooth, safe and manageable?EXACTLY THE SAME. So it actually does make perfect sense that some women have an orgasm when they are birthing (I should be so lucky). The thing is though, conditions need to support the flow of this wonderful hormone called oxytocin. Definitely google ‘how to make oxytocin flow in labour’ to get clued up and then set things in motion so you are fully supporting it’s flow when the time comes. But a good starting point is thinking about what conditions you would need to experience a mind-blowing orgasm….for most women these are conditions like dim lighting, warm, safe, unobserved environment, emotional connection. Well, the conditions that support a smooth, safe birth are the same. So think about ways that you can achieve this in your birthing room. Set the scene for a romantic date and you’ll be on the right track.
9. Get in The Zone
Our birthing brain (the amygdala) is pretty damn good at getting the job done right. However, the newer part of our brains (the neocortex) responsible for language and critical thinking can interfere with the birthing process as activation of the neocortex often stimulates the production of adrenaline. This is your ‘fight or flight’ hormone which is a kick-ass hormone that has kept us humans alive and thriving throughout history but in labour you don’t want to be fighting and you don’t want to be running. Adrenaline slows or completely stops the flow of oxytocin in you making complications more likely and the process more uncomfortable. So get in the zone in labour, the zone where your neo-cortex is disengaged to allow your birthing brain to be the one kicking ass in the room. One way to do this is by limiting talking from others and yourself as conversation can immediately stimulate adrenaline. Have a plan of how you will get into the zone of relaxation; breathing, visualisation, relaxation techniques, essential oils, massage etc.
10. Believe you are a total Badass (yes, I said it again).
We spend too much of our time self-criticising, self-doubting, beating ourselves up for not remembering to do EVERY LITTLE THING on our to do list. What a bloody waste of life. Make a choice, right now, in this very moment to STOP. Instead you will celebrate the things that make you awesome. Instead of failings you will see opportunities to learn and you’ll give yourself a fucking break. You will give yourself a mental pat on the back at the end of each day for the things you did great at and for who you are. If you start this now it will be a hell of a lot easier to connect with your badass-self and unleash your awesomeness when birthing, riding those waves like the queen you were born to be. And don’t just believe you are a badass for birth. Believe you are a badass for life….because you are.
You can read more from Emma on her Awesome Mama website.