Birth Preparation Beyond the Basics: 5 Ways to Own Your Birth

Why Preparing for Birth Deserves More Than a Day

Join me as I delve into the world of birth preparation, and share 5 ways you can take your birth prep to the next level.

I had a bit of a realisation the other day.

Someone was telling me about a conversation in which their friend had said “this whole positive birth stuff is a load of bullshit really.” Their response was that to get the most out of it, you have to commit to it and put the work in. This is completely true, and as a society, we don’t currently do this very well. Society doesn’t value birth as a transformational experience, so treats it as a procedure – a means to an end. In this blog I’m going to explore why dedicating time to preparing for birth is such a game-changer, and what steps you can take to fully embrace your positive birthing journey.

So, what does birth preparation look like in most cases?

When you find out you’re pregnant, you might start convening with the Google-Gods as you try to answer the influx of questions filling your brain. How do I work out my due date? Can I still eat prawns? Why is my discharge suddenly like PVA glue? (All actual google-searches from my pregnancies.)

You’ll be met with a whole load of articles and blogs about what you should do while you’re pregnant like:

“The 5 Most Important Foods to Eat to Stay Healthy in Pregnancy”

“Here’s 101 Must-Haves for Your Designer Hospital Bag!”

“How to Practice Perineal Massage on a Butternut Squash!”

We’re pretty set with pregnancy prep. But how do we prepare for the birth itself?

Many of us decide to do antenatal classes, which tend to start at 30-32 weeks gestation. So, assuming your pregnancy lasts the average 40 weeks, that gives you roughly 8-10 weeks to get your body and your brain ready. My question is, is that long enough? Shouldn’t preparing for one of life’s most transformative events demand more attention, more effort, more energy?

It’s just one day!

Some argue that giving birth is just one day, your brain will blur it out eventually and what’s more important is having a healthy baby. This argument fails to recognise the life-changing effect birth has on you as a birthing person. Your experience of birth can affect your body, mind, relationships, and ability to parent for months, even years to come. When experiences are negative, difficult, or traumatic, postpartum mood and anxiety disorders can affect both birthing people and birth partners. Research shows it can even have a direct influence on babies’ health and development.[i] 

Let’s think about how long we spend planning another day of your life – a wedding day. It too, can be thought of as just one day, your brain will blur it our eventually (10+ glasses of champagne will do that to you) and what’s more important is a healthy marriage. And yet for this ‘one day’, the average time spent planning is 12-18 months, with an average cost of over £20,000.[ii] We obsess over every detail – the flowers, the food, the music, even the bridesmaid dresses which, no matter what you say, will never find an occasion to be worn again.

The day after a wedding, it’s pretty common to hear newlyweds say, “I don’t really feel any different!”

You don’t get many people saying that the day after they’ve given birth.

While a wedding is treated as the most important day of your life, birth is seen as a sort of unpleasant medical procedure, like a colonoscopy; something that has to be endured, toughed out with gritted teeth while hoping you don’t shit yourself. Our bodies and choices are scrutinised, mistrusted, and interfered with, leaving too many people feeling that birth was something that was done to them, rather than something they experienced.

Somehow, we’ve bought into the myth that birth is just a day to get through, as long as the baby arrives safely. But shouldn’t we be asking for more? Shouldn’t we be demanding not just a healthy baby, but a healthy, empowered mother too?

Bridezilla & Birthzilla – diva or decisive?

Weddings and birth do have something in common – when women say what they want, people get pissed off.

“Just like the Bridezilla focusses on the wedding not the marriage, the Birthzilla appears more interested in having a birth experience than a baby.” Mia Freedman, Mamamia[iii]

This mindset simultaneously creates a hierarchy in the birth space, while firmly placing the woman at the bottom of it. It reinforces the idea that women should be quiet, polite, and submissive vessels who do what they’re told. Never an idea I’ve been on board with, believe it or not.

When women and birthing people push back and actively try to take control of their bodies and experience of birth, they’re branded as ‘difficult’ and ‘over-privileged’, as having unrealistic expectations, and who “think they are the only woman who’s ever given birth and…certainly think they are the only woman giving birth in the labour ward that day.[iv] This dehumanises women and birthing people, dismissing their experiences, and ignoring their humanity. It’s just plain dick-ish.

“We’ve all heard about bridezillas, the women who are so obsessed with having the perfect wedding that they become tyrants toward everyone else. There’s an argument to be made that many homebirth and natural childbirth advocates are ‘birthzillas’ who justify their hypersensitivity, obsessive need for control, and rudeness to everyone else with the all-purpose excuse “It’s my special day.”” Dr. Amy Tuteur, MD[v]

Now, don’t get me started on the bullshit, patriarchal stench that hangs around these terms, but essentially, it’s the idea that a woman who has high expectations and knows what she wants is a diva and a pain in the arse. (Men who show these characteristics, on the other hand, are assertive and authoritative.) The fact that one of these quotes is from a female obstetrician and gynaecologist shows that a uterus doth not a feminist make – Alexa, look up internalised patriarchy.

A birth is not just about welcoming a baby into the world; it's about your own rebirth as a parent.

It’s a transformation so profound that it changes you forever. Yes, it’s unpredictable, and we’re given that as a reason for not even attempting to plan for it. Life is unpredictable, but we don’t just fumble through and hope for the best – we actively plan for different options and alternative routes. We’re not passive participants in life, and nor should we be in birth.

Now, I’m not saying we need to go spending thousands of pounds on preparing for birth – it’s not about the stuff, or even the classes – it’s the time, the energy, and the attention to detail. It’s not being afraid to have high expectations and a critical eye – for example, if your main reason for choosing certain birth courses is that you want to meet people, what does that tell you about the information they give? Let’s treat birth with the respect it deserves and do this shit properly.

So, here are five ways to wear that Birthzilla badge with pride and start preparing for birth like the fucking boss you are:

1 – Don’t Be Afraid to Start Early

Forget the timelines and rules imposed by modern birth culture. You don’t need to wait until a certain week of pregnancy to start preparing for birth. Birth education should start whenever the fuck you want it to. Take the time to unpick unhelpful perceptions, fully understand your options, and know what you want from your birth experience. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Plus, hypnobirthing techniques truly benefit from time and repetition to make them more effective when you need them.

2 – Check Your Understanding of Birth

Take time to reflect on what you actually know about birth. Where did you get your information? Is it reliable and aligned with what you want from your birth experience? So much of our understanding of birth comes from the media (One Born Every Minute has a lot to answer for), and anyone that’s been through birth can tell you that it’s not like the movies! It’s time to unpick the myths society has fed you and discover the truth about birth—what it can be, what it should be. Birth isn’t just a medical event; it’s a powerful, transformative journey that deserves to be understood on your terms.

3 - Get Ready to Unlearn & Relearn

A lot of antenatal and hypnobirthing education is about unlearning what you think you know about how babies are born. Knowledge is power, and knowing what to expect can help you approach birth with confidence and strength. To trust the process, you need to know the process! Take the time to find out what’s actually going to happen to your body during physiological birth and the influence you have over it. Find positive birth stories, look at real birth images and familiarise yourself with the unfiltered truth of birth – even the sticky bits.

4 - Claim Your Power

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – having a firm understanding of your rights is one of the most powerful acts of birth preparation you can do. It’s your birth, your body, your baby, your choice.  Take the time to learn about your options, your rights, and your decisions in the birth space. Don’t let anyone else dictate how your birth should unfold, or tell you that your experience of it doesn’t matter. Whether you’re planning a home birth, a hospital birth, or something in between, make sure it aligns with your values and your vision for the experience.

5 – Be Picky

Some antenatal education feels like it focuses on how to get the baby out as quickly and as unscathed as possible. Choose antenatal classes and groups that align with your values and birth philosophy, and recognise you, the birthing person, as the key decision-maker in the birth space. Actively choose education that will bring value to your experience of birth as a transformation – it’s not just about learning how to use a birthing ball. Find antenatal and hypnobirthing education that prepares your mind as well as your body, and supports you in whatever informed decision you make.

So, be a bloody Birthzilla and take your birth by the balls. And if you need a reminder, just use these vows for your big day:

“I [name] take charge of my baby’s birth,

To be fierce and fearless, from this day forth.

To honour and trust in my body’s power,

To embrace the unknown, seizing each birthing hour.

In rest and contractions, in health and dilation,

To claim my power, in all birth situations.

To prepare and protect with all my might,

To educate, advocate and stand up for my right.

I reclaim my birth, owning my journey with grace,

I’ll trust my instincts, in all birthing space.

It’s my body, my baby, my choices, my needs,

This birth is mine to shape and to lead.

With these vows I declare, my birth journey starts.

With courage, with wisdom, and with all of my heart.”

References

Sign up to my Newsletter

Join the Empowered Birthing community! Just friendly chats, pregnancy wisdom, and support through your birthing journey. I know your inbox can get a bit crazy, and I promise I won’t bombard you with a million emails….just things that you will find really useful. You can unsubscribe at any time. Please whitelist abbie@empoweredbirthing.uk

We use MailerLite to send out monthly emails packed with valuable tips and exclusive offers related to antenatal and hypnobirthing education. You can unsubscribe at any time with just one click.

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Related Posts

Scroll to Top