This is a subject that’s really taken over my life these last few months and in some small ways it still is. After spending a long day today organising, planning and shopping for all of my hospital essentials I’m realising how far I’ve actually come with this anxiety. At 7 months pregnant I’m definitely no expert and I just want to note I’m not giving out advice, but simply just sharing my experience.
I’ve spent my whole pregnancy trying to get the thought of labour and giving birth out of my mind. Quite honestly the thought of giving birth absolutely petrifies my! I think it’s mostly the fear of the unknown that bothers me the most , there’s really nothing to try and compare it too. By 25 weeks into pregnancy the anxiety was cropping up daily and I was either struggling to sleep with my mind on overload or I was having nightmares. When your pregnant, everyone you know that has had a baby loves to share their stories with you. I’ve heard countless birth storied from friends and family with every single one of them completely different, not one has made me feel anymore prepared or reassured about the whole thing, if anything some made me feel even worse and I realised that what everyone experiences with each birth is entirely different and what works for some people might not work for others.
In the back of my mind I know that pregnancy, labour and birth is one of the most natural and beautiful experiences a woman can go through and It’s an experience that I know not everyone is lucky enough to have. From finding out that I was pregnant it has been so important to me to enjoy it, make the most of every moment, and most of all I want to have a positive experience. These 5 things below are the things that I have found helped me through the way I was feeling.
1.LEARN, LEARN, LEARN
Throughout my pregnancy I’ve made an effort to constantly expand my knowledge. This is a whole new world and it’s important to really know and understand what your body is telling you. You would laugh so hard at some of the things I’ve typed into the google search bar! I use an app called Baby Centre which gives a week by week overview of your growing baby, and has absolutely everything you could possibly need to know about pregnancy, labour and how to look after your baby. They have a great forum for mums too so theres always someone on there to help!
Last month I realised I had researched everything about being pregnant and I had researched everything I needed to know about how to care for my newborn baby but I hadn’t researched anything about labour, maybe it was my unconscious mind fearing what was to come. Instead of researching online I decided to go to my local library and check out the books that they had, I don’t know what it is about reading from a real book but I always feel like I take so much more in.
The book I picked up was:
Ask a midwife: All your pregnancy and birth questions answered with wisdom, insight and expertise.
The book was really great! I would 100% recommend it. It is full of the answer to every single question that you can possibly think off along with clear pictures and diagrams. I refer to it all the time now and it really reassures me.
2. PREGNANCY YOGA
Pregnancy yoga was always something I wanted to do but always found an excuse for. Last month I decided that with Yoga being all about relaxing the mind and become one your body that it might be something that would help with how I was feeling. I was right. I’ve been going to pregnancy yoga for about 5 weeks now, and its not what I expected it to be at all. The group of ladies are all lovely and supportive and the instructor is a mum of two who has had two natural home births. We spend the first 15-20 minutes of the class opening up and just talking to each other, with the instructor sharing a different topic every week. Its almost like a support group for pregnant woman! For the rest of the class the instructor goes through the different yoga positions and breathing exercises, all of which can be used for labour to help calm the mind, to help with pain relief, to help strengthen the body for labour and even to actually give birth. I now have a yoga mat at home and practice what I have a learnt a few times a week. This has really helped me to become in control of my body, as well has helping me to connect with my baby. The positions that we’ve learnt I have already started to use for pain relief with my back pain and sciatica and I now feel like I’m starting to understand what works for me.
After trying it out in class I actually bought myself a birthing ball last week, It’s been a godsend for helping with pains and finding comfortable position for labour. I will definitely be taking it to the hospital with me and would recommend for anyone who is pregnant to try it out. I have the Davina McCall exercise ball from Argos.
3. TAKING CONTROL OF MY MIND
This is something that pregnancy yoga has really helped me me with. During the class the instructor spends 5 minutes with us going over Affirmations. If you don’t know what an affirmation is, its just a positive message that you repeat to yourself everyday. I’ve always used affirmations to help with self-confident and a positive mindset but they’ve always been general and I had never thought that I could use them to help me with my pregnancy anxiety.
During one of the weeks of the class I opened up about the anxiety I had been having and it turned out I wasn’t the alone, every single person in the room felt exactly the same. The instructor used this as the focus of the class for this week and I will never forget what she told us. Very simply:
” My body is made for my baby, my baby is made for my body ”
That simple little line cleared my whole mind instantly. I had never ever thought of it like this but it was so obvious. My body is made to give birth, my body is made to carry my baby, my baby is made in my body, my body isn’t doing anything it shouldn’t be doing and everything my body is doing is completely natural and meant for me. Woman have been giving birth to babies for thousands of years, its our strength and its what we are made for!
I started to adapt this mindset in my daily life, whenever I have an anxious thought I just reming myself of that little quote. As I do my yoga I repeat a vary of different affirmations in my head to myself and as I say them I really believe them and take them on as if it is someone else telling me:
“I am a strong confident woman”
“Me and my baby is healthy”
“My body is made for my baby”
“My baby is made for my body”
Those are just a couple of things that I say and I suppose it varies on what I have been thinking about.
4. WRITING A BIRTH PLAN
I had heard people say the world birth plan before but I didn’t really know what it was. I googled it and it turns out its an actual plan that your write down. I found a great section on the NHS that you can use to write your birth plan, it goes through each section that you need to think about and has information so you know what everything means (see the link below). I went through the template and wrote it down in my notebook. I will be taking this with me now to every appointment to refer too. After doing this I felt so much more in control and confident, knowing and understanding my different options and knowing what direction I want to go in. Even if my birth plan doesn’t exactly go to plan, I now know the other directions I can take and won’t be easily pressured to do anything I’m not comfortable with.
5. TALKING TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE
One thing I’ve always been told when it comes to feelings is to not bottle them up. Releasing emotional build up is such a relief and to just get it out makes you feel better instantly. At first I tried to discuss how I had been feeling with my partner, let’s be honest men just don’t live on the same planet as us and with certain situations like pregnancy you may as well be speaking in a different language. Men just cant relate or experience pregnancy like we do emotionally and physically and they really can’t empathise towards it, often making you feel worse without meaning too.
It takes a lot of open up and share your feelings so when you do you want to make sure you talking to the right people. Personally I first opened up to my GP about this at my regular check up, I really get on with my GP and I find her really easy to talk to. She reassured me that actually what I have been experiencing is normal and suggested a few things to try like the yoga class.
I’m now 30 weeks pregnant. With 10 weeks left I’m super excited to be finally meeting my little girl and although i’m still VERY nervous about the birth and I still don’t 100% know what to expect. I’m feeling much more confident with myself to be able to face it and embrace it as the amazing experience it will be. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t know what I’m doing and this could all go to pot but most of all I feel excited about the thought of going into labour.