4 Mistakes You Can Avoid When You Have A Baby
Hello there everyone, hope you are having a brilliant week and that those fresh autumnal moments are more a welcome change than a sad loss. This is my third article for the wonderful Support Local Magazine and I have loved every moment so far. As a local parent myself, I have found so many brilliant new resources that make me feel good when I am buying from them as well as enjoying the product or service afterwards. I love knowing I’ve supported a small local business like me that does a little happy dance with every new booking or sale.
Now I’m done with that little love in 😉I want to talk to you about how to avoid making some mistakes that can lead to a more stressful or negative experience during birth for many people. Mother nature and just pure human error or accident mean that we cannot ensure that we or someone else has a perfect birth, and I would suggest that you exercise some scepticism towards anyone that tells you that you can have a good birth if you just do x, y and z.
That story really upsets me because it leads to the parents who tried hard, who did everything they thought they had to do, being let down by their experience and feeling that they are to blame. When you are sleep deprived and uncertain of the new landscape ahead of you, feeling that you did something fundamentally wrong or failed can have a huge effect and should not be minimalised.
Welcome to number one!
1. Thinking you can control the kind of birth you have
I am soooo guilty of this one! And I don’t think I’m alone, I think a lot of people to fall into the trap of this way of thinking when writing a birth plan. It can happen at an antenatal class too, especially in a large group setting. If a teacher describes the physiology of birth and explains that there are things we can do to create the best chance of getting a certain kind of birth - it is not a big stretch for us to believe that if we do those things we are very likely to get that birth.
Risk is an incredibly emotive thing and it is really hard for us to hold all the variables and real-life chance of things happening or not; instead we end up, often, being led by our gut and our heart. There are hypotheses that the gut or heart feeling that people talk about is our best educated, calculated guess but that because so much of our understanding is subconscious we do not fully know why we want to make that particular decision. I cannot find a source for that though, so do take it with as much salt as you like.
So, you know the information around your options, and you can prepare what your choice would likely be in various situations. You can have a plan; you can know what you want and what feels non-negotiable to you. To avoid the element of control-gone-wrong, drill down to the why of the things you want. That way you can bring those elements to every part of your birth even if it doesn’t look like you thought it would.
2. Going with the flow
You might well be thinking “so I can’t plan it and I can’t not plan it?! Get your story straight woman!”, fair enough really, but bear with me.
“Going with the flow” can mean a few different things, what does it mean to you?
It might mean “I don’t care what happens, I just want to get through it, the midwives will know what I need when”. If you’ve read my previous article, you know I adore midwives; but they are not mind readers. They can read measurements; body temperature, heart rates, blood pressure, CTG (to a point…that is a discussion for another time), but not minds. How you feel and what you want and think you need really matters – you have known your own body for a very long time, you know what is right and wrong for you. If you go into labour with this mindset it might lead to going with someone else’s flow, not your own.
The other thing “going with the flow” might mean is “I know how birth works, I know what I could be offered, and I’m going to listen to my body and decide at the time”. In which case I will say, I don’t think this is a mistake – sounds like a damn good plan to me.
3. Not knowing your options
There are different levels to decision making in birth; the things you have full control over and will choose beforehand, the things you are not sure if you will want or need at the time and will decide later on and the things that are decided for you in an emergency situation. You can change your mind about anything at any point.
I know that I am not at my most receptive and decisive when I’m desperate for a wee (for example), and it is worth considering, I think, if you would be able to understand what is being offered to you in the moment when you are tired and regularly coping with strong contractions that take all your attention. Not only the physical sensations distract you from comprehension, there is a different mental state that comes with later stages of labour that brings your attention inside.
The fact that you are reading this tells me that you want to know your options – take a look at the bottom of each of my articles for Support Local or my websitefor some brilliant books that will kick start and support your learning towards a great birth.
4. Not preparing for life after birth
There is a lot of focus on (dumm-dumm-dummmmm) birthin antenatal education, and that’s what we sign up to right? We want to learn about birth, what it will be like, ways we can deal with different situations, how to make the best of it. Most good antenatal education programs will include information on infant feeding and the early hours and days after birth – but often takes a bit more than that to fully prepare ourselves for the new chapter of parenthood we are entering. Sometimes we (especially as first-time parents) are not really there yetin our mind; we don’t retain the information about a newborn the way we retain information about what we need to do through birth. I’m sure that is down to individual reasons; some fear blocking acceptance of change, and fear of the birth itself and not being able to look past it and the way that we talk about parenting not being up to scratch with the way that it all feels.
Being a parent makes all of life’s usual undulations lower and higher, deeper and wider. Even after some time to get settled into things it can feel big; and in those first few weeks, months there is so much learning – for everyone – that getting information into your brain before your baby arrives can be useful and stress relieving. Imagine only reading the book while you are in the exam hall. That just gives me sweaty palms thinking about it, and it sounds a bit mad. But for so many people things like breastfeeding (OK, mainly breastfeeding) is only talked about with the caveat of “well, I’ll try, but I don’t know if I can”. That was me by the way, I am talking to my past self – and hoping to help you avoid my mistakes. Don’t wait to read the book until you’re in the exam; pop along to a low pressure, no-obligation breastfeeding café or other support group while you are pregnant. They will be so happy to see you, and I bet you won’t regret it.
I’m going to recommend a (or some if I get carried away…) book at the end of each of these articles, take a look at my whole library and some short reviews of more birthy books. Book recommendation today: Birth in Focus by Becky Reed
Ruth is a birth and postnatal doula supporting families across Kent and South London. Come and learn more about Ruth and doulas by exploring these links: Mother Mother Doula Website, Instagram,Doula UK, Facebook,Kent Doula Collective.