Being as relaxed as possible during birth is the goal for many of us mamas-to-be, no matter what route of birthing we’re going down. While it can sometimes be difficult to reach that more relaxed state, especially when we hear about different birthing stories from family and friends (which often focus on the negatives), having an actual calm birth can help you take back some control of your birth story.
Calm birth is not just a buzzword, it’s a proven and effective method of taking some of the fear out of the birthing process. With the help ofSeasons of Mama owner, registered nurse, midwife, and expert calm birthing educator, Jenna Troy, we’re breaking down some of the ins and outs of calm birthing, to help give you a more empowered and knowledge-based approach to welcome your little one into the world.
What is calm birth?
Calm birth is a method focusing on the positive of the birthing process, to help you tap into your inner strength (it’s all you mama!) and be able to focus yourself on the full, wholesome, and natural experience that is giving birth.
“When we feel open and receptive to a situation, our body feels safe to lean into the unknown as it expands into curiosity,” says Jenna.
“The opposite is also true, that if we feel closed off and fearful then we feel contraction around the person/place/event. Our mind-body and certainly birth doesn’t want to play in this space.”
When your body is as relaxed as it can be, it’s less likely to fight the natural process of birth, giving you a more mindful and less painful experience. Practicing calm birth is a way to help you take control of how you want to give birth, rather than potentially stepping back and letting others make decisions for you. Not only that, but it can also allow your birth partner to become more immersed in the experience, rather than just being a bystander.
Jenna says: “It really is about connecting with our inner-self and intuition, so our body feels as calmly about the process of birth as it does about any other physiological function. These things are subconscious activities that don’t really require us to get all intellectual. We just need to trust.”
What is the difference between calm birth and hypnobirth?
While calm birth focuses on being more mindful and aware of your own inner power to achieve a relaxed state, hypnobirthing (as the name suggests) focuses more on self-hypnosis or assistance from a hypnotherapist.
“I believe that many programs offer similar ingredients when it comes to birth education, but it is really the birth educator who makes the secret sauce,” Jenna says.
“The idea that knowledge is power has really been embraced and we should all appreciate that we don’t have to experience any shame or taboo around the topic of childbirth, unlike generations before us.”
“So, when it comes to choosing which program is right for you, I would connect with the educator and see if you vibe their energy, their language, and their credentials.”
What are the benefits of calm birth?
“When we approach our birth with a sense of calm, trust, and faith, we positively influence our anatomy (our muscles, pelvis, pelvic floor, and reproductive organs) and physiology (our respiration centre, nervous system, hormones etc.),” Jenna says.
“This not only allows for a woman to labour and birth in her own time, in response to her baby and her body’s natural rhythms, but it also has short-term and long-term benefits for both her and her newborn.”
Essentially, the idea behind having a calm birth is to make your body as relaxed as possible, so it’s less likely to fight the natural process of giving birth.
Potential benefits of calm birthing include:
More satisfying birth experience that is positive and empowering for the birth mother;
Greater rapport with caregivers on the basis of informed consent and individualised care;
Reduced likelihood of needing pain medication during labour;
Higher chance of having a vaginal birth without the need for interventions (mechanical and pharmacological);
Reduced chance of vaginal trauma such as perineal tearing;
Higher level of natural protection against postpartum depression, anxiety, and mood disorders;
Stronger family bond and parental attunement after birth.
How to prepare for calm birth?
As with any birth preparation, it can begin as early as you like, though we suggest having something in place by week 30 of your pregnancy. Having a birth plan can help you not only plan for a calm birth, but also communicate your birthing preferences to your birth partner and pregnancy care team.
Here are some other ways Jenna suggests creating a calm birthing environment and preparing for a calmer birth:
Ensure your chosen birth place and caregiver is aligned with your values;
Optimise your nutrition and lifestyle habits with daily movement such as pilates, yoga, swimming, and walking, and reduce toxins in your environment;
Learn the art of rest (and do this often!) and tap into your relaxation response. This could be through meditation, breath work, visualization, affirmations, massage, or acupressure, whichever works best for you;
Read or listen to empowering educational resources on a wide range of topics;
Attend a proven birth education program with your partner or support person to prepare you on every level;
Practice asking for help, and expressing your needs and boundaries;
Have yourbirth plan and birth intentions ready to go.
Calm birth resources
It’s important to remember that throughout your pregnancy and birth journey, you’re not alone. Your birth partner, pregnancy care team, and closest loved ones are there to support you throughout. There are also a number of products and resources available that can help you throughout this journey, whether it’s from experts in the field or other mamas (or dads) who have been there before.
Everyone’s pregnancy and birth journey is different, and what might seem valuable to some might not hit the mark for others. So, when it comes to what is or isn’t worth it, only you can make that decision for yourself.
But as an expert who watches her own clients go through the calm birthing process, Jen has this to leave you with:
“We don’t wing it on our wedding days or when we purchase a home. When it comes to significant events in life, we ensure we have planned and prepared ourselves accordingly. Our birth is no different and deserves our attention and intention as we calmly prepare to welcome our babies earthside.”
“Some people say, ‘it’s just a day in your life’. But it’s a day you will remember for the rest of your life. You also deserve to have the birth of your dreams. My Mama-Midwife heart wants that for you.”