Connection is the key! When you are thinking about the birth of your baby it is a great way to imagine a large puzzle. Perhaps, there is a border outlining your puzzle and you intend to place the pieces one by one from the outside in. For some, they like to work from the centre outwards, slowly adding, building bit by bit the picture they envisage. Others may start by gathering pieces and placing them in small groups, perhaps some of the border, some centre or groups of colour, everyone does it differently. We all get the same outcome, a beautifully crafted picture. When you envisage your birth, bring it together, you should have a clear picture of what the overall puzzle looks like. It is then easier to connect the pieces. Another way to think about the connection is with the connection you have with your baby. Sitting quietly at the end of your day or perhaps when you have settled into bed at night, think about your baby, their growth, and the role you have in their life. A great way to start to connect with your little one. Slowing the mind to connect with your body and baby.
When you think about connecting each piece of your puzzle, be sure to communicate with your team or partner on how you see the bigger picture, as they can help. Without others seeing your vision they cannot connect the pieces and support you with completing the puzzle. You need to start by explaining your vision. Outlining each step they see themselves taking to complete their puzzle. Simple, easily read instructions rather than long-winded paragraphs. Try communicating by thinking about how you would like your home environment to be, how you will transition from home to your birthplace and what the role is of your caregivers and support people. Don’t forget to outline a “Plan B” if there is a detour! Communication comes in many ways, reading facial gestures, watching bodily movements, tightening muscles, curling toes, gripping fingers or listening to sounds the birthing mother is making. Clear communication is required before, during and after birth, to help all navigate this new experience.
You have committed to having a baby, have you thought about how you are all going to arrive safely on the journey ahead? When teaching Calmbirth classes commitment is a large part, they have committed to being there to gain knowledge about their body, baby and parenting. They know this is not an exam, where you can cram it all in at the last minute and hope for the best outcome. Each step requires a commitment to self, taking time to acknowledge your growing baby within. As a team, both you and your support people require each other to commit to helping. This may be done through breathe work, being fully present with you within the room, not wondering someplace else in their mind. This is a time where everyone is there for the birthing mother, each other and the baby.
Do you begin to place a puzzle together without the bigger picture, of course not! So why do we think we can navigate the birthing space without having knowledge of the process required to birth a baby. The Calmbirth motto is “ With Knowledge Comes Confidence.” Learning how to work with your baby, body and support team requires you to have the knowledge about labour, birth and your baby. Being able to navigate the procedures and policies that are in place at your birthing place is of vital importance. Sometimes, there are rules, time frames and measures set in place that you may not have been aware of. Becoming knowledgeable allows you to have the confidence for welcoming your baby into the world.
Do you have confidence in your baby, body and support team? Recently I spent a weekend with Peter Jackson, the Founder of the Calmbirth program. He has termed the phrase “With Knowledge comes Confidence” the premise of Calmbirth. However, he also spoke about a belief that both he and I share, that our body has its own pharmacy, equipped with all it needs to heal itself and birth a baby. You require the confidence in knowing this to enable your mind to work with your body. You do not require others to take control of your birthing process, be confident with your body, take your health and welfare into your own hands and feel the power to make decisions and go with the sensations of labour and birth. When you stand with confidence, believe in your body, birth is simple, it is just another bodily function for you to use.
You have already begun the mapping out of your pregnancy, now it is time to gather tools for the next part, labour and birth. Have you thought about how you would like to birth your baby? How you intend to get to your birthing place, when to leave and what is required from your caregivers. There are many tools for both mother and birthing partner that can help to make the birth of your baby enjoyable, safe and calm. Learning how to breathe, utilising your breath to the best advantage for both you and baby. There are many ways to birth your baby, positions, techniques for visualising labour and birth. The tools you use may be ways you will refuel and rehydrate your body so you don’t run out of steam. Things you can do for each other for support.
Have you thought about the best time to leave your home and make your way to your place of birth or when to call your caregivers if birthing at home? What happens if you arrive too early or you’re concerned you will be leaving it too late. A great way for you to remember is the simple rule of 10- 3- 2 -1.
2 minutes apart
1 minute in length
Within 10 minutes you will have counted 3 contractions, they will be flowing with a 2-minute break, and the length of the contraction will be 1 minute from the start to the finish. If you follow this you will arrive at your birthing place in established labour, around 4 cm or so centimetres dilated. You can download a contraction app to record this information for you, there are plenty to select from, so find one that is easy to navigate and use.
However, if there is a time when you feel unsafe or unsure please contact your caregivers for more information and then take on their suggested information.
Calm, Private and Safe
We know animals require an environment that is private and safe for them to calmly birth their young. We also need these three in our life. A birthing mothers body will work when there is calm, being able to go with the hormones released in labour allow her to move into her happy place feeling both her body and baby moving down. She should be supported in a calm manner, as without calm there is chaos. When there is chaos, people don’t feel safe. A safe environment is private with dimly lit surroundings, quiet soft voices and perhaps gentle music. As a caregiver and support person, it is your job to ensure she feels safe.
A caregivers role is to support, nurture, listen and communicate. When you think about welcoming your baby into the world think about who you would like for support. They are there to listen, watch and act. I often go to births as a Doula, a non-medical support person, part of the caregiving team. As an active listener, it is my role to provide knowledge, work within a team and ensure the family I am working with have trust in me and their caregivers on the day, as trust builds confidence. The confidence that the birthing mothers body knows how to birth her baby. This requires 100% presence. Being aware of what a mother requires through touch, conversation, movement and knowing when hydration and refuelling are required to keep the body moving through the stages of labour. Even support people must be aware of their own energy, taking time out when required. Remember after a baby is born there is still a lot of care required, so rejuvenate when you can during the labour, seek help from your caregivers to support you.
Taking Baby Home
This is when the teamwork starts, the job of parenting goes up a notch here as your baby is on a 24-hour clock, there is no night and day. This new clock has four settings –
Each baby has its own dial, setting these times. The best thing you can do is set your clock to the same timing as theirs. Taking a baby home for some parents is their biggest fear. A baby has no care label as a piece of clothing does! It is a matter of nurturing each other, taking one step at a time and reaching out to family, friends and caregivers when you require assistance or advice. You are all learning this new way of life so take it easy on yourself, sleep, eat, and care for one another.
About Melinda Webb
Melinda Webb is a doctor of Traditional Chinese medicine, working in the field of women’s health, reproductive and pregnancy care. As a herbalist and acupuncturist, she combines her work with the Buteyko breathing techniques, teaching Calmbirth workshops, and Acupressure.
She is known within the birthing industry for providing holistic care to her clients and their partners. For more information contact Melinda through her website or by mobile.