If you've been supported by me, or read How to Have a Baby you'll know I believe confidence for birth can be 'grown' - nourished and watered by a handful of very simple, very common sense 'practices' in pregnancy.
1) finding someone who's experience of birth is what YOU would like to experience - finding out what they did - and copying them. Mentoring, modelling, buddying...whatever you want to call it - but lots of plain old generous sharing of stuff. USEFUL stuff. Positive gathering of helpful, experienced, affirming guidance as opposed to being arbitrarily ambushed by people telling terrifying birth stories (and for the record, no, this isn't grounding or 'good for you' )
2) A weekly physical ritual - connection with your two strong feet, with your strong, capable body...finding, feeling and following your body as opposed to your brain
- a ten length swim every Monday that you keep to
- a regular active birth yoga class where you stretch and breathe and share and talk and 'everyone knows your name'
- or simpler than either, a sacrosanct, non-negoitable walk...same route, same time, every week.
And when you bring BOTH of these things together.....can you imagine the alchemy of that?
A mother I supported a few years ago had just this in this place - a regular TALKWALK with a friend and made their Saturday morning consititutional a condition of her pregnancy.
It would ease her aches, clear her mind, lift her spirits...and on the day of her birth, swears it was as steadying a tool to how she steered and coped her straightforward birth at home as any book she read or class she attended.
I recently heard from her...and she had paid the gift forward. A friend of hers was feeling very VERY anxious about birth, and for good reason. There were complex health issues, there was enormous pressure to induce and conceiving had been hard. Overall, there was a feeing of impending helplessness. Like what lay ahead was a bit of a lottery.
But they would walk, and they would talk...here's how it went.
'My friend has struggled to get pregnant and has been through quite a lot during her pregnancy with lots of visits to hospitals for monitoring. We started our walks when the weather was nice in May. At the point there wasn’t much discussion about labour (her due date was September) so we just talked about her scans, how her husband was feeling and how her general health was. She started to spend more time during the day with my kids too.. I think it’s always nice to see someone else’s house and how they operate with babies. Rocking chairs on different floors, nappies on every floor etc.
I started to put things aside for her labour and then for the baby. This brought us closer. When they came round for dinner we spoke openly about the Doula process and our home birth. While they were really intrigued it wasn’t on their radar because of the potential anxiety around her pregnancy and labour.
So as the weather in May provided us with beautiful evenings, we used to walk every week, the same walk, I would always bring a snack and some water.
The walk would give rise to so many lovely conversations from sharing wedding stories, relationship woes and her feelings about labour. So when she would ask me something about how contractions felt- I would say -it would feel like a period first, that’s when you know baby is having ideas..
A few times nearing the labour she would say “ I'm having feelings” and I would just keep it very light and say “ maybe your baby is starting to have ideas - how wonderful.”
Whenever I gave her advice that I had learned, I'd keep it to one line so that it never came across as mentoring or coaching so for example...
'Just try to keep your environment dark and quiet as much as you can, to keep in the zone and the contractions flowing (I always reiterated the image of the waves- inviting the contractions in and being closer to seeing your baby). '
The advice was more just helpful little hints or memos so she can take one thing away from each of our walks, along with chat about lots of other things.
She gave birth a couple of weeks ago and to my joy, had a wonderfully positive 4 hour birth. Next time round, she wants to do it at home.'