Pregnancy has been an enlightening time for me. From the first time I felt my breasts were a little sore to seeing the lines appear on the test, receiving the blood tests and scans and then the pregnancy symptoms, at times it was all a little overwhelming. Not to mention my changing body and the prospect of the birth itself!
A range of emotions is almost inevitable but I have found that a variety of resources have helped both my husband and I to feel positive and confident about pregnancy and the challenges of parenthood that await.
I thought I’d share a few of them with you in the hope that you also find them helpful!
After 20 weeks I upped the ante on exercise and decided to join an antenatal fitness class through a company called maternallyfit.co.uk at my local sports club.
Straightaway I found this a great way to feel confident with exercises, as everyone there was pregnant too and the classes were tailored to our needs. We learnt a lot about pelvic floor exercises and worked a lot with the birthing ball: squatting and lifting.
The leader repeatedly mentioned the importance of strong thighs for labour, which made me quite nervous at the time as I realised I didn’t really know ‘how’ to give birth – I guess I assumed I’d be on my back on a hospital bed, like women often are on television. At this point I realised I needed to know more.
Sadly, just a couple of weeks after joining the class the UK went into lockdown, but I was glad of the experience and continued to practise the exercises at home. Happily the classes also continued over Zoom, which was great and kept me active when we were stuck at home. The classes are also for postnatal workouts so I will continue with them once I have given birth too.
A good friend of mine absolutely swore by hypnobirthing. Hearing how upbeat and positive it had made her about the daunting prospect of birth I was extremely interested and decided to look into it further. I love to read so I looked on Amazon for the best hypnobirthing books available.
“Your Baby, Your Birth” by Hollie De La Cruz was highly rated and available as an audiobook which meant I could listen on my daily walks.
It really was as good as the reviews say, if not better. Right from the start I felt like Hollie was speaking directly to me. She focuses on providing information on what hypnobirthing is but also why it is so important using science and detailed explanations to describe what happens to your body during birth. Chapters are informative and often comforting, giving details of personal experiences and at the end of each Hollie includes a positive birth story, which had me weeping with excitement and happiness when I thought about holding our son for the first time.
Hypnobirthing immediately made me feel calmer about birth and reassured me that I would be in control. Techniques including breathing, visualisation and knowing your options have all helped me consider how I want my birth to be.
The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill
After digesting the hypnobirthing book I decided I wanted to find out even more about the science behind birth, and go over the different options I have when labour approaches.
Again, The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill had great reviews on Amazon and though it was a slightly different style to hypnobirthing, what I loved about this book was the humour that it used to share common questions and reservations many women have. It resonated with me and I found myself reading paragraphs out to my husband.
It is full of scientific information and repeatedly reminds you that you have choices when you’re giving birth, and knowing what they are will help you to feel empowered during labour. It discusses conversations to have with midwives, the role of your birth partner and the importance of writing down your birth preferences so you know what you want and can share this quickly and easily.
Again, I felt informed and confident about birth, but the advice also provided me with realistic outcomes so allowed me to also be open minded about how birth could be.
NCT Antenatal classes
My husband and I are very lucky to have multiple friends who are to become parents this year. But with a thirst for knowledge and hearing of the benefits of having lots of people around you who also have new babies to share experiences with, we signed up to antenatal classes. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, classes were moved to Zoom but we decided to persevere with them.
In fact they were still great. We had a fantastic course leader, who was able to pair us together in small breakout rooms and discuss questions, issues and general topics with the aid of interactive activities.
It was helpful to discuss the different options we had during birth with real people rather than just listening to facts on an audiobook and also lead to some good conversations including how our birth partners were feeling and where to get babygrows as so many online shops had sold out!
In addition, we had two sessions specifically on breastfeeding. Having read up on the benefits of breastfeeding, but also some of the challenges, it was great to share my questions and queries with others and know that support is available. Breastfeeding is definitely a highly discussed topic, and certainly presents challenges but knowing what those are has already made me feel confident.
Despite not yet being able to meet up with the rest of our group in person, I think this course was still worth the money and has left us feeling much more informed and reassured about some of the possible scenarios we could face during birth.
Click to read How To Feel Prepared In Pregnancy: Part Two