It is incredibly powerful to learn how our birthing bodies really work. Birth is an intimate dance between mother and baby, a dance of hormones, mechanics and also our minds. How we feel in our birth – safe, comfortable, cared for – influences how well our birth hormones are released. This is a safety mechanism that all mammals have, so that their labour can stop until they get to a safe place if needed, and it’s something we have little control over. If we don’t feel safe, labour may be stop-start, or it might slow down or stop completely because our brains think that we have a tiger to get away from! Think about all your friends who have experienced “failure to progress” (a terrible term), or whose contractions stopped when they got to hospital. Usually, the place a person is in and the people around them are the reason. Learning how to create a safe and comforting space around you – and who to have in it – is an integral and essential part of your antenatal sessions.
The mechanics of birth are absolutely fascinating. Did you know that our babies help themselves to be born by wriggling and rotating in labour? When we feel labour pain that feels better if we move, that’s the dance between our body and our baby’s body; it’s a message telling us what is needed to help our baby to travel from the inside to the outside. We are doing it together – teamwork – and being on our backs hugely inhibits this from happening. In your antenatal classes you’ll learn so much more about this, about birth positions and movement, and what you can do to help the birth process – and, crucially, what hinders it.
How can we really plan our births? We don’t know what will happen, so what can we actually plan for? The answer is a huge amount, and it’s incredibly valuable to do so. Your antenatal classes will help you to think about what might be right for you in different situations. For instance, if you have an in-labour caesarean (sometimes called an emergency caesarean, although it’s not always an emergency, we called this unplanned) would you like to hold your baby skin to skin straight away? If so, you need to plan for this so that you can have your gown so it’s open at the front or not even be wearing one, and the sticky tabs monitoring you put onto your back. You can talk about these simple but powerful decisions in your antenatal classes and learn about options that you may not even have known exist. Each of them helps you to have a positive birth, even if it’s not the birth you might have wanted. Birth plans are powerful and important and your antenatal classes help you with this.