Just think positive! Believe in yourself! Trust your body!
This is advice women are given about planning their births time and time again. But thinking positive is not a birth plan. It’s good to have a positive outlook, but it’s pointless to have a positive outlook if everything else that’s in place for your birth is working against you. The energy you bring to your birth space is just as important as the energy your support people and care providers bring too. Birth space isn’t just physical, it’s also incredibly emotional.
The key factors that create a positive birth experience are where you plan to give birth, and who you hire to attend your birth. Absurd isn’t it! You’d think that HEALTH was a driving force, but unfortunately it has taken a back seat in recent years. It’s all well and good to practice positive affirmations for birth but the simple truth is that unless you are the only person in attendance, other people’s actions and thoughts will have an impact on your labour.
A care provider with a positive attitude towards birth, and helping women achieve their goals will bring a good energy to the birth space. A care provider with an untrusting or hostile attitude to birth plans can not possibly be a positive influence on a woman who is vulnerable and in labour. What’s more, they may deliberately act in ways to sabotage it.
Thinking positive has irrefutable links to health, but no matter how positively we think about birth we can not alter outcomes that are determined by biology, and the actions of others. Biology, not positive thinking is what drives birth. A care provider and venue either help or hinder the biological process. A venue for birth may have state of the art modern equipment (a machine that goes PING perhaps) but those conditions don’t necessarily work with the science of safe birth.
The science of birth shows us repeatedly that women labour most efficiently when they feel safe. And yes, technology can help create a feeling of safety in an intellectual sense, but there’s more to it than that. Women give birth best when they feel like their privacy is respected, when they are free to move, and when they are well nourished and hydrated.
Women naturally give birth best when intervention is the last resort, after biology has exhausted its resources. When correctly harnessed biology fails it is not a result of negative thought patterns. Furthermore, when the biological process of birth is damaged by routine medical management (such as The Cascade of Interventions) it is also not a result of negative thinking.
Bad things do not happen to women and babies in birth because they didn’t think positive thoughts, or because they didn’t believe in themselves enough. They happen because sometimes that is the unavoidable nature of birth and other times they happen because the delicate balance is upset by a less than optimal birth space.
Conversely, bad things CAN happen to women who rely solely on a “think positive” birth plan. Those women are frequently unprepared to face the challenges of labour. How does that work? It’s quite simple really. If your only plan is to plan a natural birth, and trust your care provider, but that care provider hasn’t attended a birth without intervention for over a decade, what are your odds? Pretty slim.
So what are the best things to do if you want a positive, and natural birth? Here are the top five, in order.
- Learn everything you can learn about what makes an intervention necessary, and which interventions care providers perform routinely. Learn to tell the difference between a necessary intervention, and a routine one.
- Interview your care provider really thoroughly. Ask them what their intervention rates are like. How many caesareans, how many inductions, for what reason do they perform inductions and caesareans? Be prepared to change care provider if it becomes apparent that the current one will not work with you. Here is a list of questions to ask.
- As you learn about interventions, use what you learn to create a solid birth plan and vision. Remember that a good birth plan is more like a map, it helps you navigate your way through all the potential twists and turns that biology can throw your way. What is the difference between a birth plan and a birth vision?
- Ensure that your support team (friends, family, doulas, or partners) understand why you have made the birth plan you have made, and that they have an armoury of good strategies to help support you while you’re in labour. See here!
- Do what you can do to create a positive attitude to birth, but not at the expense of ignoring fears which could guide you towards better choices, and a birth that aligns better with your birth vision. “Think Positive” has it’s place here, but not until all the other work is completed. How to use your fear as a compass.
If you want a good birth experience make sure your birth plan is more than affirmations and a blind trust of the process. Make sure you know the scientific backbone of birth, it isn’t the sole domain of care providers. What happens in your body is YOUR business and it’s really interesting too! Let biology do it’s job, by all means think positive, but protect your birth space zealously. Don’t permit anyone into it unless they also think positively about birth. If your care provider doesn’t like your birth plan, and the venue you choose to give birth provides nothing you want, how will you think straight in labour? If you can not think straight, you can not think positive, and by the time you’re in labour, it actually becomes really important to think positive.
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