Preparing for Birth
The excitement and mood in the UK at the moment is amazing. Even if you’re not a football fan you can’t get away it. Why would you not want to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy it? We’re all getting behind our country and have belief that they can win. My knowledge of football is close to nothing but I love the excitement at the moment. Oh and the video clip of Beckham doing the rounds sipping his wine saying ‘it’s coming home’! So what has this got to do with birth I hear you ask?
I always liken hypnobirthing to sports. It’s a great way for any women and birth partner to understand it. It’s even more useful for any sceptical birth partners. I know lots of men and women who when they think about birth as sport it makes complete sense. So how can we liken birth to how the England team would prepare for this World Cup matches?
Self belief that they can win the match
The England team wouldn’t have entered this competition believing they couldn’t win. Surrounded by a Manager, Coach, Captain all supporting one another. Believing they can go all the way through the competition from that first match against Tunisia.
This is the self belief we need when we are pregnant. We can win the race that birth is especially with a supportive team around us. Most importantly we have to believe we can as the mind in a powerful tool. Where the mind leads the body follows so if we tell ourselves we can’t do it we probably won’t be able to. You’re mind has given up before you’ve even started. It’s like the England team attempting to play the semi-final believing they won’t win. Their mindset will be we can win this match.
Everybody who is part of our birth team needs to believe in you and be there to support you.
Visualisation of winning
Visualisation is such a powerful tool. Many sports men & women use visualisation to prepare themselves for a match, race, game. Visualising winning, scoring a goal. The England team will visualise the euphoric feeling of winning each match getting them closer to the final. Believing they can win the semi-final to get them to the final against France.
Visualisation in pregnancy works in the same way. Its scientifically proven how using this mindfulness technique can prepare the body and mind for a healthy labour. Using the power of imagination helps you reach a deep state of relaxation and calmness.
Again where the mind leads the body follows so visualisation alongside breathing techniques can work very effectively. When using the up breathing, the relaxing breath in the first stage of labour visualising a sunrise for example can encourage the uterus muscles to pull up more effectively. Where the mind leads the body follows. Visualising something rising upwards is what we’re encouraging the uterus muscles to do.
Preparing the body physically
To run around on a pitch for 90 minutes at pace is intense physical exertion. Players have to prepare themselves for this through training. To ensure they are physically fit enough to be picked to be in the team.
In pregnancy we need to prepare our body to be physically strong as giving birth is a very intense workout.
- Having strong leg muscles to hold our weight. Our quads are really important to enable us to be as active as possible in birth. We don’t want to be laying on a bed during labour as laying down reduces the pelvic opening by 30% compared to being upright, forward and open. If we can practice squatting during pregnancy a squatting birthing position opens the pelvic outlet and extra quarter to half an inch.
- Strong pelvic floor muscles to help labour, reducing the chance of tearing and aid our post birth recovery. Keeping pelvic joints flexible as this improves blood flow to the lower body helping to ease delivery.
- Strengthening our abdominal and back muscles to help carry the weight of the baby and aid delivery. Stronger back muscles helps ease back ache during pregnancy and labour.
We can work these muscle groups through being active during pregnancy. Walking, prenatal yoga & pilates, swimming, recommended pregnancy swiss ball exercises, pelvic tilts, supported wall squats to name a few.
Having a healthy diet
Having a healthy diet is a fundamental part of being a sports player, an athlete. A well balanced nutritional diet is important to fuel the body especially before a match. Fuelling the body with low GI foods so you have a slow energy release. If a runner for example prepares well by eating complex carbs before a race it will give the body the energy it needs for that race to avoid hitting a wall and feeling you can’t complete it.
A healthy diet is extremely important for every day life and vital during pregnancy. Eating a variety of foods to get the right balance of minerals, vitamins and nutrients for both Mum and her unborn baby/babies. Don’t be lead to believe that you need to eat for two either!
Avoid snacking on foods that are high in fat or sugar opt for healthier options. Of course we’re all allowed treats and a balanced diet is the best approach but we don’t want our diet to be dominated by fat and sugar.
- Around five portions of fruit and vegetables will help aid digestion and prevent constipation.
- A third of the food you eat should be starchy foods such as bread, potatoes, rice, pasta. Opting for the wholemeal or high fibre variety avoiding the refined starchy foods (white).
- We need protein in our diet which is found in nuts, poultry, fish, eggs, meat, beans and pulses. Eating lean meat and avoiding adding extra fat when cooking.
- Dairy in pregnancy is important for the calcium content and other vital nutrients. Milk, cheese, yogurt, soya milk and yogurts.
Educate yourself on what pregnant women are recommended to avoid during pregnancy and how eating sensibly can aid pregnancy.
During labour we need to fuel our bodies. If you can face a meal snacking to keep your energy levels up is recommended. We want to be fuelled to help us win the birth race! Birth partners needs to encourage us to do this as there is so much to remember during labour we can easily forget the obvious things.
Keeping the body hydrated
Is vital for everybody to hydrate their body. Especially for a football player about to take to the pitch for potentially 45 minutes before half time. At half time players will be encouraged to rehydrate especially if the conditions have been very warm. Keeping a players energy levels up through them being hydrated.
Hydration is extremely important for any pregnant women especially during the summer they need to be even more mindful or keeping themselves hydrated. Being hydrated dilutes our urine which reduces the risk of bladder infections. Lessens constipation and can help swelling.
When labour commences naturally you can feel warmer similar to having a workout! If it’s during the summer months wherever your birthing could be warmer than normal. So its important for the team around us to keep us hydrated. Sipping on water, non fizzy drinks, coconut water is great as it has good levels of sodium and potassium to not only aid hydration but give the body energy. So even if a birthing woman doesn’t have an appetite being hydrated via a drink like coconut water can help give her the energy she needs.
Entering labour hydrated means your body is in a good place enabling it to work more efficiently and keeping baby hydrated. Like many muscles the uterus functions at its best when we’re hydrated. If we are dehydrated this could mean we are put on a drip which then can mean being less mobile which we don’t want in labour.
Of course keeping the body hydrated means we need to wee a lot too. This is so important as we don’t want a full bladder during birth as the baby needs as much room to come down the birth canal past our organs. So please ladies keep going for a wee. Our birth partners need to be mindful of this too reminding us frequently. A full bladder can otherwise lead to women needing a catheter to drain the bladder. We don’t want this do we!
A lot of training goes into a team preparing themselves for a competition like the World Cup. Training together as a team as well as working out alone. Preparing themselves mentally and physically. It’s great they know the date their aiming for they can set out a training plan to work to.
With birth we don’t know when that birth date will be. Full term is between 37 – 42 weeks so as pregnant women that’s what we have as our match date. This doesn’t mean we can’t do regular hypnobirthing training we very much can. For example:
- Practising the breath work
- Incorporating visualisations
- Listening to relaxations
- Practising breath work, visualisations and relaxations with our birth partners
- Being active
- Daily pelvic floor exercises
- Eating healthy and drinking lots of fluids
- Being mindful of our seated position to encourage the baby into the best position. Yes birth partners might need to nag you to do this especially towards the end of pregnancy when we just want to slump on the sofa at the end of the day.
This is part of the training towards that labour day or your very own World Cup match day!
So go on ladies go into pregnancy and labour believing you can win as you can! Don’t underestimate how amazing women are. Surround yourself with positive vibes and a positive team around you.
Interested in booking a hypnobirthing course? What to know more?
I teach private hypnobirthing courses in Barnes, Cobham, Hampton, Isleworth, Kew, Kingston, Richmond, St Margaret’s, Surbiton, Sunbury, Teddington, Twickenham, Walton, Whitton and surrounding areas.
Pregnant at the same time as a good friend? I offer the regular group course price of £295 for 2 or more couples but in the comfort of your own home.
p.s. It’s coming home!