A recent survey of over 1,000 pregnant women tells us that over 80% of women are feeling anxious right now about giving birth during COVID-19 and over 40% are changing their birthing plans. The realisation that the majority of labour will happen at home, without a support team, and the lack of incentive to visit the hospital with only a skeleton staff is definitely making it critical for mums and partners to be more educated and empowered.
Parents At Work are proud to be partnering with She Births®, and recently spoke to founder, Nadine Richardson, about pregnancy and birth during COVID-19. In addition, Nadine generously shared her knowledge in the article below to provide comfort to expectant parents.
Remember, this is your birth, it may be your only birth or your third birth…either way, it’s important that you don’t undervalue the preciousness of this day. The wonderful opportunity exists for you to come out of birth empowered and strong. To find a bond that will carry you and your family unit forward into parenting. The power of your hormones will be there to help you form a healthy bond and assist your breastfeeding.
Don’t give up on yourself and birth now just because the world has gone a little mad and some of your choices have been taken away.
Your baby doesn’t know the difference between you in a pandemic or not, both in pregnancy, birth or afterwards. They simply want to be with you, hear you, smell you, see you and work with you during labour to come into this amazing world we all share.
They do however, share all the same feelings that you do. Their chemistry, whether cortisol and adrenaline or oxytocin and endorphins, is based purely upon what you as a mum are feeling right now. Perhaps it is a good idea to turn off the news and just do what is needed to get through each day, then the birth, then feeding and sleeping. Keep it really simple and stay grateful for the choices, the health and the sanity we do have available to us right now.
Building agency and getting ready for birth with antenatal classes is more important than ever. You need to go into birth feeling confident in yourself and your partner. When you have the right knowledge, tools, principles and strategies you can be open and surrender to the magic of birth and make any birth beautiful, no matter what unfolds. #youcandoit
Here are some ways you can get psyched for a great birthing day:
Accept your feelings
Many women and their partners are deeply afraid right now and they are grieving. It is totally understandable. Women are finding it hard to cope with all the changes and restrictions being placed upon them, their family and their births. The uncertainty creates even higher levels of anxiety.
This in turns puts a lot of pressure on our partners – to be a key support person both now and for the majority of the upcoming labour, which is not an easy task.It is really important that we don’t get overwhelmed or stuck in a stage of grief or denial because all of this will restrict our natural hormones and oxytocin production for labour.
What you can do… in the first trimester
It is essential to protect yourself from negative birth stories because the human brain receives and encodes negativity 5 times faster than it does positivity. And we are also 36 times more likely to remember information when it is told to us in a story. All the podcasts and stories you read are wiring your brain…and have been for years. Now is the time to forget the negative and start a new positive birth and pregnancy narrative. To dream up what is possible and lean into it, even if you are feeling nauseous and exhausted all day, remember to not entertain the negativity about birth.
By signing up to She Births Free Pregnancy Support Guide you will begin to feel calmer, more connected with your partner and baby and truly inspired by the many positive birth stories. You could also subscribe to our The She Births® Show podcast and read the birth stories on our blog.
In the second trimester…
Jump into childbirth education now. Later is not better! Earlier education will give you time to get your head and heart ready for the changes that are both happening and coming. It will give you and your partner ideas and questions to discuss with your caregiver. It will guide you towards the books that are best for you, not just for those that your colleague thinks you should read.
On top of keeping up with sunlight, exercise and great nutrition and blood tests to monitor your iron, start to build up a daily yoga and visualisation practice. Get the body and mind in balance and ‘talking’ to one another.
She Births Full Online Course has 6 visualisations (including a post birth healing) and also gives you She Births® Prenatal Yoga DVD for free.
In the third trimester…
Really get your partner on board – big time! With a full conflict of interest disclaimer, I can only say – do She Births® if you haven’t already! You will not find a better, more comprehensive, higher quality program anywhere – trust me.
Contrary to the name She Births® we are for men too. They are actually our biggest fans. Mums generally have to tell them to be quiet when they go to dinner parties and talk about the amazing birth program they did! No joke. We also created this Dad’s Guide to She Births® quite a few years ago to help Dads understand why Childbirth Education is so important for them.
I believe many mums do their partners a huge disservice by not including them in birth preparation. This is a big transformation for them too. Just because they can’t feel the baby and hormonal changes during pregnancy does not mean they don’t need support, information and guidance at this time. They want to help, they just don’t know how. They will go through dramatic hormone changes too post birth so let’s help them understand more earlier on.
The tools, philosophy and principles we have to guide both mums and partners are absolutely critical to getting through birth and coming out the other side thriving- as a loving and strong family team. A family with a connected vision of how they want to go forward together as a couple, as well as parents.
It is still possible to create a beautiful birth if we put in some good preparation and practice beforehand. The inner commitment to make any birth beautiful, no matter what unfolds, is always the most important principle.
Enjoy 10% off the She Births® Full Online Course with the code PAWPODCAST10. You and your partner can prepare together via desktop or app making learning as easy and comfortable as possible
This article was written by Nadine Richardson in partnership with She Births®. Nadine Richardson is a mother and has been a childbirth educator, doula and prenatal yoga specialist for over 20 years. She is the director of The Birthing Institute and creator of the She Births® (2008), the world’s only scientifically verified childbirth education program.