“We have a secret in our culture, and it’s not that birth is painful. It’s that women are strong.” – Laura Stavoe Harm
Giving birth can be considered as one of the most unforgettable experiences in a woman’s life, a moment where a mother needs calmness, peace and where her needs and preferences will be heard and listened to. Not only is this a time for the mother but also for the child being born. These are some reasons why having a gentle birth matters but how can one be ready for it?
Gentle birth does not necessarily mean unmedicated birth as what most people think. It refers to having your birth plan acknowledged by your birth team and allowing you to have the birth that you want.
I was lucky enough to have a gentle birth for our second pregnancy. Our first birth was okay, unforgettable too but a bit traumatizing. Something I surely did not want to experience again, which made me and my husband decide to have a gentle birth. How did we make ourselves ready? Read on to know.
Get your birth plan ready and be specific and detailed with what you want. This is crucial to achieving a gentle birth. Write down what you want for yourself, for your child, and have your doctor or midwife acknowledge it.
Health care provider
This is probably the most important decision you’ll make next to choosing a gentle birth. Choose your health care provider wisely, ask around for gentle birth advocate doctors, and ask for referrals from experienced moms.
It is important that your health care provider is someone you feel you have a connection with because they will be the one to support your birth plan. I had an unpleasant experience with my first OB. I wanted to have a natural birth but she discouraged me by saying that it’s something that she doesn’t do and that I won’t be able to do it. Being a first-time mom, I blindly trusted her and listened to her because I didn’t know better. I was too succumbed by fear so I didn’t have the courage and knowledge to switch to a gentle birth OB.
With our second, I gained the strength and confidence I needed and transferred to another doctor whom I loved and who cared very dearly for her patients, including me. She was very encouraging because she believed that I can achieve my dream birth.
Choose your birth team
Your birth team will be with you throughout your pregnancy and most importantly during your delivery. These people may consist of your OB, pediatrician, doula, and partner. It is important that they fully understand what you want to achieve in your birth and that they support you all the way.
Having a birth team can give you additional push to reach your goals and to educate you well about what you are about to experience.
Attend birth classes
Equip yourself with the knowledge about pregnancy, different stages of labor, labor techniques and exercises, etc. There are an increasing number of birth classes in Manila now but pioneering this informed birth advocacy is Birthing is a Blessing by couple mentor Doula Betty San Luis and her husband Manny. They regularly hold classes once a month called the Birth Basics Workshop which aims to empower partners to have a positive and gentle birth experience.
I also got Ms. Betty as my Doula and getting one is entirely up to you but I felt the need for it because I wanted a lot of encouragement and guidance especially in decision-making. I’m really happy with her because she is very caring and professional at the same time. She answers all my questions and reassures me when I doubt myself.
Nothing beats getting yourself ready for battle. Watching videos of childbirth or whichever birth preference you want will surely make yourself more ready for what’s going to happen during the delivery day. Beyond the beauty of life in childbirth is pain and it is important to see how much other mothers go through during this event so that you will have a grasp of what to expect when your little one is about to come.
Exercise and stay active
One secret of having a fast and easy labor and birth is exercising and staying active during pregnancy. As long as you are not having complications and bleeding, this is very safe. There are numerous activities you can do safely during pregnancy like yoga, swimming and walking to name a few.
I used to just go to YouTube and search for pregnancy workouts or prenatal yoga exercises. I only go for around 20-30 minutes per day and they help loosen and widen hips to get ready for birth, especially nearing your due date.
Relax and let go
Staying positive is very important during pregnancy because your emotions may affect your unborn baby. I was lucky to attend the first Blessingway session by doula Irina Otmakhova and doula Betty San Luis and to experience it firsthand. There, pregnant mothers like me gathered and celebrated pregnancy, let go of the stresses in life, released anxieties and worries, visualized positive life events and just let everything go. This is very helpful for expectant mothers because carrying heavy emotional baggage can also affect how fast your labor progresses, so it is best to release this before giving birth.
Giving birth is truly amazing and women are very strong to endure such pain. Getting ready, equipping with the right knowledge, and having the best support group is the best way to be ready for this life-changing experience.