Antenatal (the before baby part)
Pregnancy is an exciting time, yet it is also full of mystery, worry, and lots of unwanted advice.
Everyone’s pregnancy journey starts differently and this can often impact on their journey, both positively and negatively. Research shows antenatal education is so important, yet most pregnant women tend to focus most of their time on the birth and labour part. Fair enough – it is a big deal, yet in the scheme of things, the actual labour/birth part of your pregnancy and parenting journey is brief, (even if you have a long labour). In saying that however, knowing most women want the most comfortable birth possible, it is important that you are aware of your options and supports.
Many women will have a birth plan, which is great. However, remember this is a guide only, for yourself, your partner and your health care provider to achieve the optimal birth for you and your partner. As a midwife I have years of experience in delivery suite, and more often than not the first time I meet a woman is in labour, so a birth plan is a great help. Be very mindful that labour and birth can change and whilst it is great to have a birth plan, it is also very important that if things change, you listen to your health care provider to ensure a safe birth for you and your baby. The most important thing to remember is the the health of you and your baby.
Labour for everyone is individual. While many people like to tell you their horror birth story or the length of their labour, try and stay positive about birth and not fear it. Remember you are one step closer to meeting your baby. Educate yourself about your options with pain relief, both non-medical and medical options, and discuss this with your partner, supports and health care provider. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Postnatal (the once the baby is born part)
Congratulations you have your little baby in your arms. You’ve got through the birth, now you have your own birth story to tell.
Postnatally, it is important to look after yourself. You will be juggling. Getting to know your new baby, your body changes, birth recovery, emotional changes, and very often conflicting perspectives, sleep deprivation, visitors, the highs and lows, laughter and tears. Be kind to yourself. Your body has run a marathon; no matter what type of birth you have had. No need for superwomen here, rest as much as possible, surround yourself with good supports, ask for help.
Access your local services, knowing that we also have help at our finger tips. (Gone are the days where you send out a message to the local nurse for help, only to be received a day later.) Try not to sweat the small stuff in the early days, the early days go quickly. Give yourself time to learn your baby, it takes time to learn anything knew. Be careful of unneeded advice and where you source your information from.
Enjoy the parenting journey, whilst it is tough at times and exhausting, it is the best thing you will ever do.