This week, we caught up with midwives Annie and Joyce from Birth Days to find out how best to prepare for birth. Annie and Joyce have both been caring for pregnant women for over 30 years and recently have decided to launch Birth Days, curating and providing bespoke antenatal classes to inform and empower women and their birthing partners.
Here are some of their top tips to prepare your body, and your mind for birthing:
● During your pregnancy keep active! Movement improves your wellbeing and supports flexibility. Walking helps to tone and keep muscles supple in pregnancy. Listen to your body carefully. Adjust the time and pace to suit your needs. The pelvis opens better during birthing when it has been kept mobile and
● Using gravity is beneficial - walking helps your baby’s head to settle in the head down position in your pelvis in the final weeks of your pregnancy.
● Avoid carrying a toddler on one hip as this will cause an imbalance in your pelvis..it is best to carry the toddler at the front or on your back to balance the
● During pregnancy your body releases the hormone relaxin which makes your pelvis more flexible, ready for giving birth, but also means that any extra pressure on joints may lead to lower back pain or injury so take it easy and don't push yourself.
● Don’t sit too long in one position and avoid reclining on sofas. Getting up and moving around every 30mins or so is a good idea.
● See an expert/physiotherapist if you have any history of pelvic injury or discomfort.
Invest in a birthing ball...
● It distributes your weight more evenly relieving spinal pressure and may ease backache, while keeping your hips and pelvis flexible during pregnancy.
● It will help you resist the urge to slump e.g. in a sofa or armchair therefore promoting good posture.
● Sitting upright on a birthing ball is like a mini workout as your abdomen and back muscles have to work hard to keep you upright. Ensure that your feet stay flat on the floor while you are sitting on the ball.
● In the latter stages of pregnancy leaning forward over your ball may help with optimum fetal positioning i.e. ensuring the baby is lying in an anterior position ready for birth. It is a good idea to ask your Midwife about the position of your baby around your 34 week appointment.
● Do not bounce on the ball forcefully instead use gentle movements.
● In labour you may instinctively rotate your pelvis while having contractions and your birthing ball will give you good support for this.
● Birth partners can easily access your back for light touch massaging or lower back massage during your pregnancy or while birthing.
● During the birth you may like to lean over the ball on a hands and knees position. This may reduce pelvic pressure and allow lots of room for the baby's head to descend and birth.
● Using the correct size of birthing ball is vital:
'Self-care during pregnancy is the first gift that a mother can give to her child.'
Taking time to look after your mental health throughout your pregnancy is vital. Factor in some time daily to 'Be Still,' to process your thoughts and emotions during this amazing but often daunting journey to motherhood. Physical changes, alongside fatigue and perhaps sickness can make you feel overwhelmed without the added pressures of modern day living and social media pressure.
This is the perfect time to connect to your developing baby -to talk to them. Becoming a Mother also means a change of role, which some may find challenging. It may also be a trigger for Mums-to-be on their life experiences and there is help for those who have anxieties whether it is about the birth or other concerns. You can self-refer to a midwife or see your GP for support.
● It is time to plan ahead-think now of building your support system-surrounding yourself with positive friendships and family.
● Ensure your partner is included and involved throughout your pregnancy, and is aware of their role at the birth.
● Be kind to yourself and don’t compare yourself to others.
‘Remember there is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be good one!’
You can visit the Birth Days website for more tips and information on pregnancy, birth and beyond. You can also check out their wonderful range of courses on offer - www.birthdays.baby
Or follow them on instagram - @birthing.days