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what to expect

'Nothing can actually prepare you': 8 mums share how they dealt with their fears about giving birth

From pre-natal yoga to positive thinking, there are lots of different approaches. Here, some veterans share what worked for them.

THERE ARE A multitude of ways to get ready for a baby’s arrival. In fact, some would say too many.

In the run up, there are the practical things often suggested – such as washing a million teeny onesies in your preferred brand of non-bio. Then deliberating which ones to bring to the hospital, while questioning how you’re going to also fit king-size mattress maternity pads in the bag. There’s deciding where the baby will sleep… preparing and freezing countless meals… the options are almost limitless.

Prior to these latter stages, there are of course things you can do to prepare your body for labour and birth, such as pregnancy pilates, eating well, spending 95% of your time perched on a fitball, and engaging in *that* massage south of the border.

Surely all these things (plus the innumerable unmentioned additionals) psychologically prepare you for the task at hand?

Well, if you want the truth of it, nothing I can say here can mentally prepare you for giving birth – because every one is different. Also, in the absence of time machines, there is no way of foretelling what kind of birth you’ll have.

With that in mind, you can either throw your hands skyward, exclaiming “whatever will be will be”, or you can throw an eyeball across how these mums prepped their brain for birth.

Going to a birthing workshop: I signed up for an “active birthing” workshop hosted by my prenatal pilates teacher. As it was my first baby, I found it helpful enough. For example, it was the first place I’d heard about perineal massage! She also gave us good breathing techniques, positive affirmations, and told us the best positions to get into for different scenarios – like if your baby is in the back to back position.

Of course, when it came to the crunch, most of it went out the window, but at least I felt more confident in the few weeks before the birth.

- Simone

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Listening to hypnobirthing tracks: Hypnobirthing tracks worked wonders. They always helped me get to sleep in the run up to D-Day, and they did help with labour – to a point. It all depends on what kind of labour you’re having. I had an epidural in the end, but I firmly believe I would’ve been requesting one sooner had I not been immersed in the tracks during pre-labour.

- Sinead

Accepting that every birth is different: I didn’t do anything specific to be honest. I’ve read articles saying you should have four different birthing plans for all eventualities, but who has time for that? I’m a mum of five and every birth has been different, so I don’t see the point in trying to plan for these things. The universe has it in hand!

- Stef

Trying homeopathic remedies: There are homeopathic childbirth kits, which include a range of remedies for before, during and after labour. I found the arnica great for bruising, and the chamomilla and aconitum helped with the anxiety a good deal. Psychologically, it worked for me – whatever gets you through!

- Claire

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Hiring a TENS machine: I’m convinced it got me through the early stages of labour. Looking back, I’d been marginally in denial about the birth, especially after a friend of a friend regaled me with her horror story when I was about six months gone.

It was probably psychosomatic, but I felt infinitely calmer after ordering it and even better when it was delivered! It was a good distraction during early labour and gave me a sense of control.

- Babs

Visualising the baby: Honestly, there is zero point worrying as nothing can actually prepare you mentally and emotionally for childbirth. The only thing you can do is keep an open mind as you never know how it’ll go!

Surround yourself in positivity and positive stories, that’s always a good starting point. Keep visualising yourself holding your baby and remember that each contraction brings you closer to that point.

- Sarah

Going with the flow: Believe you can do it! But, more importantly, let yourself go with the flow and DO NOT give yourself a hard time over anything that wasn’t ‘planned’. Every birth is different, especially your first. The second time around, because I was more prepared mentally and physically having been through it before, I was done and dusted in four hours.

- Charlotte

Practising prenatal yoga: Prenatal yoga made me feel more at peace and connected with the babies. I was pregnant with twins and therefore knew I probably wouldn’t have more kids after that, so I had every detail of my ‘birth plan’ chartered. Then one of the babies got into trouble and I had to go under general anesthetic for an emergency section.

Waking up, I was heartbroken. Being emotionally invested in the “perfect” birth is entirely understandable, but – in time – I realised that the most important thing is that you and your baby get home safe and healthy. If you remind yourself that that’s the goal, then most of the bits in between will get easier.

- Emer

So, what have we learned? Firstly, life loves throwing you curveballs, so don’t give yourself a hard time if things don’t go to plan. Secondly, go with the flow and trust that your body knows what to do. Thirdly, remember the end goal – holding your baby.

That’s when the real fun starts!

More on pregnancy: ‘I didn’t know hair could grow there!’ 7 unexpected pregnancy side effects, as told by mums-to-be>

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