As we continue to brace ourselves for the changes that are occurring on a daily basis, we are all faced with fears, concerns and uncertainty. These circumstances are rare and unusual here in Australia, and we now more than ever have to show solidarity and work together to get through this as best we can.
We say to our clients all the time, build your village and accept support when it is offered. This is no truer than now, working together, collaborating and encouraging each other, but with restrictions put in place at hospitals that village seems far away and out of reach.
Twenty twenty was meant to be the year of opportunity. So far there are many of us who have asked “can we just cancel 2020?” or “can we unplug 2020 and reboot the system?”
But could this be an opportunity for women to
find their power and own their births?
At the moment there are many pregnant women who are feeling extremely anxious as the calm, holistic birth they were planning becomes nothing but figments of their imagination. They may have already been concerned about birthing in a hospital environment and not having their wants and needs met, but now they have the added worry of hospitals restricting support people down to one person, maybe extending those restrictions to partners and preventing them from being at the birth of their own baby to reduce the risk of Corona virus spreading, while trying to keep hospital staff and all patients safe.
If we are being rational as a community then we should get it, and we should understand that health care providers are absolutely stretched to the limits, scared and tired as well, and we are led to believe that we are only in the early stages of what lies ahead. We are sorry that you are in the front line, and you are deeply worried about your circumstances, whether you have washed your hands enough, or cleaned your clothes enough, or done enough when it comes to infection control, while also feeling the emotions from public backlash due to the decisions that are being made around you. We know it’s not your fault. We know it’s not easy for you and it’s not easy for your families with you being in a hospital environment, where the risks of infection are probably higher. It’s not easy on your families when you are getting home and too exhausted to be present, or too emotional and upset to give quality time to your kids.
We thank you and we admire the efforts and the sacrifices you are making for the community.
Similarly, these circumstances don’t make it easy for women to enjoy their pregnancy and positively plan for a calm birth experience so as much as you are afraid with what is going on, these women are too, and they need someone to have their back. They need your undivided attention, encouragement and compassion because they have lost their ideal birth team, which may have comprised of their mother (probably witnessing the birth of her first grand-child), or their sister or a doula or even that baby’s older sibling. Now more than ever health care providers in hospitals will need to provide that hands on physical support as well as that mental, emotional and spiritual support that has been stolen from these mothers because of this virus.
This is not an easy time for anyone, and for pregnant women the decisions that are being made around them, without them and for them, are not going to ease their minds as they get closer to their due dates.
If the woman has a doula, they have built and developed that rapport with that woman long before they go into labour. They have created a connection, an innate knowing, a physical and energetic bond. So we ask you to go back to basics and be a traditional midwife that was once burned at the stake with the witches for having so much knowledge, wisdom and influence that was shared with women in traditional birthing circles.
We ask you to be more than a pen, paper and monitor while “with woman” and we beg you to bring every instinctual wisdom that you hold deep in your soul to that birthing woman and her space and make it all about her.
Please protect her space and her birth, whatever that happens to be.
The way a woman is treated during her labour and birth can and will have long lasting effects through her postpartum period and beyond. There is no doubt that we are going to see compromised postnatal experiences so if she can’t have her chosen birth team then she needs you, her partner needs you, and you have to be not only the midwife, but the doula as well.
For you….the pregnant mother.
It is time to change your way of thinking.
Look at what you CAN change and then see how you can best adapt to what you can’t, or it will create so much disharmony and distress within you.
You can do this – because you are a woman.
You have the power inside you.
If you are stressed, find what comforts you and change your mindset.
Set yourself free from the chains holding you back.
As Professor Hannah Dahlen from University of Western Sydney says, “the largest organ in childbirth is the brain.”
Choose to be prepared – you can only do what you are prepared to do.
Focus on the things that you can control, and the things that you can change.
Start to devise a new plan, a new pathway – birth is full of many pathways – you never know what you are going to get on the day.
If you have the ability to do so – change your care to a home birth. It is not as scary as most women think and research actually shows that home birth is probably safer for low risk women than hospital birth:
Professor Hannah Dahlen wrote a great article on hospital birth versus home birth:
Dr Sara Wickham has some great resources on home birth on her website:
If you are looking for an Independent Midwife then ask in some of the pregnancy and birth groups for recommendations, and if you are in Perth, check out my list of Independent Midwives including those who have birthing rights at King Edward Memorial Hospital:
If you still feel safer going to a hospital to birth, then stay home as long as possible or until you feel the need to be in your birthing space. Have your support people there with you right up to the hospital door. When you get into the birth suite, look at how you can create a beautiful, ambient space.
Ask your midwife to help you and support you – they are not mind readers and probably don’t know what your wants and needs are, so give them the chance to work with you. Open yourself up so they feel welcome into your birth space and give them the opportunity to “be with woman” and guide you through your labour and birth in a calm, beautiful way.
Have a birth plan and give that to your midwife so she can be on the same page and support you as best as she can. She may end up being at the best birth she has had the opportunity of witnessing in our highly medicalised maternity system – give her a chance.
We need to be visionaries in our approach to what lies ahead. Plan around what you have control over. Here is where creativity and preparation come hand in hand. With all the technology we have today, there is a way to bring your support team into your space, not physically, but remotely.
Take a screen with you (a computer screen will do – I picked one up from the Good Guys for $50 not long ago) and get it tagged by an electrician as anything electrical needs to be tagged for safety. CLICK HERE to find out how you can sanitise everything you take with you. Take your mobile, internet / Bluetooth speakers, iPad or anything else that you will can use to connect to the outside. You can even Facetime or have your phone on speaker, but the point is you can still have that additional support encouraging you and offering you techniques for comfort.
Be a wise woman and use your imagination to create a utopic birth.
If you have a doula, check in with your doula and work out an action plan on how best your doula can work with you during these restrictions. Things are changing daily, so we just don’t know what to expect, so expect the worst and hope for the best. Your doula is a smart professional, and we have all been working out ways to best support women and prepare women during the antenatal period, long before you go into labour. Your doula can provide more antenatal and postpartum support to you if they can’t be with you at your birth, so you may find that extra postpartum support invaluable to debrief and hold space.
Don’t give in, become stronger in your resolve to bring your baby out into the world in the best possible way under all the circumstances that present to you. Don’t forget as well, you have a voice and you can and should advocate for your wants and needs during this time regardless of the restrictions.
Don’t succumb to being a victim – you are going to bring your baby out into the world and we want to hear you roar.
Do not be a passive spectator at your own birth. Be an active participant – be confident and protective of your birth space – your nest.
In your mind keep saying “I can do this – because I am doing this.”
As Yoda says:
And your birth is sacred.
You are only going to birth this baby once – there is no going back and starting again. You are bringing the love of your life earthside – and doing that in a way that is calm and working with your body is something to focus on.
Don’t think or say, “I can’t” when “only you can”, and you definitely have that potential – it is all in your mind.
You can choose your thoughts
– that is the starting point of power.
Release and let go.
Breathe – that is so very important in times of stress. Breathing in through your nose and blowing up your inner balloon, and then breathing out through your nose.
Release all stress and tension, let go of all fears and doubts.
What are all the things that help you to relax?
Write them down and find ways of implementing all of these relaxation techniques when you get to the hospital. Make sure you partner and your midwife know how they can help you to relax, because what you find relaxing could be completely off the radar to your partner and midwife.
If you have done the Hypnobirthing Australia™ program or my Back to Basics Birthing Online Course then you have all the tools and techniques you need, and you and your partner are well educated and ready. If you feel that your partner is not going to be the best support person for you, then you have to discuss this and make a choice of who will be the better choice in the one support person rule – your partner or your doula or another support person such as your mum or sister.
Remember to find ways to reduce the anxiety and stress so it doesn’t inhibit your labouring and birth hormone oxytocin.
Let it flow…breathe ….let go….release…..bring your baby out into a calm place. Visualise those muscles of the uterus working strongly and in time with your hormones, your body and your baby.
Every surge is bringing your baby closer.
Move around and dance, and definitely don’t be forced onto the bed. That is not the place to be – you might as well be at home in bed. Get into the shower, get into positions that make you feel comfortable, sit on the toilet back to front so you are leaning over and resting your head and arms on a pillow on the cistern, or get up and sway your body, move your hips, feel that movement, make it fun and sensual and guide your baby down with that movement too.
One of my favourite videos by Brazilian Obstetrician Dr Fernando Guedes da Cunha shows him dancing and encouraging labouring women to dance during labour.
You really are amazing.
You have grown and nurtured your baby all this time and now more than ever your baby needs you to be calm and ready for any changes that lie ahead – your stress is their stress.
Now is the time to think about how you can adapt to this new situation.
You are strong, you are calm, and you are safe.
Imagine the moment when you meet your baby for the very first time and you marvel at how incredible they are – and you grew them and kept them safe.
Your partner will be there with you, providing you with everything you need – protection, love, relaxation and encouragement.
Everything else you need is right there inside you – your innate wisdom and primal instincts. You will work hard (because that is what women do) – you will labour strongly and you will overcome your fears and be resilient – because your baby is counting on you.
You can do this – because you are doing this!
My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator (Back to Basics Birthing), Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner, Certified VBAC Educator, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy & Postpartum Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Certified Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach. I am a serial workshopper and learner, so that I keep up to date with new research and information so that I can provide you with up to date resources. My focus has always been on the mind, the body and the emotions and how they all need to be in balance for harmony. You can subscribe to my newsletter by adding your details in the box on the right-hand side and when you do I will send you a free relaxation meditation to help you feel calm and relaxed. I am based in the northern suburbs of Perth and can be contacted by email at [email protected] or phone (08) 9303 9111 or click here to go back to my Resources Page for more great articles and information.