Having My First Baby
Our New Zealand Minister of Health gave a talk at the New Zealand Midwifery Conference (91.2% of ALL expectant parents have a midwife). This was his first statement: ‘The birth of a child is the most important event in life’. That is the Truth. The birth of your first baby is the most important event in your life. While the first pregnancy is important, The Birth is perceived as much more important. Yes, most women remember something of their nine months of pregnancy but you will remember The Birth of your first baby in a more profound way. Not many things in Life are so dynamic and full of the unknown and also full of everyone’s opinion. You’re having your first baby and Birthing Better families want to share with you all the skills they developed and our New Zealand not-for-profit Trust has put into a simple to use Birthing Better Childbirth Preparation Online Course.
We want to talk to you about how to prepare for your first baby. You can be having your first baby at 40 or 15. You might ultimately give birth at home or hospital. But you share the same thing. You will give birth to your first baby not too many months from right now. Once you’ve gotten past the first 3 months of pregnancy (conception to 12 weeks), moved through the 2nd trimester (12-24 weeks), you begin to think about ‘The Birth’ and you are probably doing some research about the possibilities.
Where did your research lead?
Whether you’re reading books, going to classes (probably not until 36 weeks), talking to friends or Googling you’ve discovered that writing a Birth Plan is really important. After 24 weeks The Birth feels much closer and you’re thinking about what you want and don’t want. Every woman images what her birth might be like. Every woman has an idea of the type of birth she wants. Many women also consider the pros and cons of the medical ‘interventions’ and want to be able to choose when and if interventions occur (more on this later).
You are UNIQUE. Your life, health circumstances, ideas about birth, relationship, work, diet, and all your other individual life situations. Your individuality seems so strong that you can’t even imagine that our commonality becomes more dominant once you’re pregnant and headed toward your first birth. So right now you are focused on what you want and don’t want.
What’s scary is that as a pregnant woman facing her first birth you absolutely believe there’s no way to know what your birth will be like. You’re right. HERE’S THE SECRET. No pregnant woman knows what her birth will be like! Every pregnant woman has anxieties mixed with excitement because The Birth is absolutely unknown until it unfolds. And here is where you become part of our commonality. One hundred percent of pregnant women will give birth. Repeat that. Every single woman who is pregnant whether pregnant for the first time or having her 20th baby is going to give birth one way or another.
You still should make a Birth Plan. It’s a great idea to think through what you’d like at your first baby’s birth. Making a Birth Plan gives you some sense of being in control of the Unknown. In your individual life you might live where you have lots of birth choices. You might be able to choose a homebirth for your first birth and have a midwife … or not. You might be able to choose which hospital your first birth occurs … or not. Your health issues might require lots of medical care you don’t want but need and aren’t happy.
Making a conventional Birth is not enough because you cannot choose the birth you’ll have!
Skills-based Birth Plan
Any birth, including a first birth, is actually an exercise in plumbing. Your body is a ‘container’ for your baby and during ‘the birth’ this object has to come out of your ‘container’. You can make that passage much easier, no matter whether you follow all the suggestions of your Obstetrician or Midwife or make your unique Birth Plans.
By learning birth skills during pregnancy such as Directed Breathing, the Pelvic Clock or Deep Touch Relaxation, you take charge of what you can do for yourself during your first birth. You’ll still have to breathe. Your body will still be in some posture or position.
By learning birth skills, you’ll feel capable, confident and ready to meet the challenge of birth. More importantly, this sense of capability moves you out of confusion into a sense of being in control and being in control is all about having appropriate skills for any specific task.
This is all good because being skilled during ‘the birth’ can work with and around, all the assessments, monitoring and procedures that occur in birth. Not only that, but you will feel more ready to parent when you have worked with your baby’s efforts to come out of your body rather than feel at the mercy of the experience.
In other words, as you learn birth and birth-coaching skills then write a skills-based Birth Plan that you share with your obstetrician or midwife. With your conventional Birth Plan they know what you want but your skills-based Birth Plan will tell them what skills you’ll use and what you’ll do while your first birth unfolds one way or another.
Until the 1980s there were ‘standards of care’ or ‘guidelines of practice’ or ‘evidence-based practice’. These were broken up into assessments such as taking blood pressure, monitoring such as blood tests in pregnancy and foetal monitoring in birth and procedures such as ultra-sounds, induction of labor or Caesarean. These all got lumped into the word ‘interventions’ in the 1980s by natural birth and midwifery advocates with the implication that all forms of assessments, monitoring, and procedures were unnecessary, imposed on women and something women should ‘choose’.
Medical care during pregnancy and birth is just that … medical care. If you don’t want any medical care do not see either an obstetrician or midwife. While midwives are not trained to do a high level of medical procedures they are doing many of the assessments and monitoring. Modern pregnant women want to have a safe birth and end up with a healthy baby and themself.
At the same time, pregnant women want control. You know that as your baby grows inside you feel you are not entirely in control now and birth is so unknown. How do you gain control? That’s your question and Birth Better Childbirth Preparation that leads to your Skills-based Birth Plan is the way to gain control over your first birth.
Your first birth
When your first birth begins to unfold you may or may not get your choices BUT you will have great Birthing Better skills to work through your first birth as it unfolds. You’ll realize that giving birth is much like driving a car. Birth is a journey in Time and at every moment you can use one or more of your Birthing Better skills. And Birthing Better skills were developed by fathers as well as mothers so your partner will share a set of exceptional birth-coaching skills to really help you cope, manage, deal with, work through, handle, stay on top and in control no matter how many interventions (assessments, monitoring and procedures) you might experience in order to safeguard you and your baby’s well being.
Your first birth is important to you and to all Birthing Better families. We want you to experience your first birth just as we have … as skilled birthing mothers and skilled birth-coaching fathers. You matter. Your partner matters. Your baby matters and your first birth matters.