by Hannah (@hypnobirthing_hannah)
Hannah is a Hypnobirthing teaching. In this piece she shares some tips to help all mums plan for a positive birth experience, including for pregnancies that have been labelled as ‘high risk’. Hannah teaches at Hypnobirthing with Hannah and you can also follow her on Instagram.
A ‘high risk’ pregnancy is something that no expectant mother wants to experience, but for a lot of people, this is their reality. At a time when a mum-to-be would expect to feel such joy and happiness, hope and gratitude, they can also be experiencing a whole host of other emotions, especially if they receive this ‘high risk’ label. From feelings of guilt and wondering if they did something wrong, anxiety for what the rest of pregnancy will be like, to worrying for their unborn child and fear of what labour might look like, these are all often at the forefront of their thoughts.
I know this because I have been there. These are the exact emotions that I had.
In 2018, I was told at my 20-week scan that my pregnancy was classed as high-risk. Suddenly I felt like I had zero control over the way my pregnancy and labour would play out and I was terrified. I was hearing things from my consultant such as “you won’t be ALLOWED” “you HAVE to” and “you CAN’T.” My hopes for an empowering and positive birth experience were shattered. Of course, all I wanted was for my baby and me to be healthy but surely this didn’t have to come hand in hand with a birth that I was petrified of?
After lots of tears, eating far too many biscuits, endless sleepless nights and a continuous stream of Yorkshire Tea, I decided that I had to regain some control and booked myself and my husband on to a hypnobirthing course. I am so thankful that I did this.
To this day, it is one of the best decisions that I have ever made. I had an amazing birth experience even when all the odds were stacked against me and I went on to have the most empowering birth.
I want anyone who is classed as high-risk during pregnancy to know that they too can plan for a birth where they feel confident, calm and empowered.
6 Ways to Plan for a Positive Birth Experience During a High Risk Pregnancy
- Write everything down
This is such a simple technique but so effective. Write down all of your thoughts and emotions on a piece of paper. Get the worries out of your brain; it’s amazing how much better you feel after doing this. Also write down any questions that spring to mind regarding your pregnancy, or labour, and then take them with you to your next consultant/midwife appointment. It can help to write down the answers to so that you can refer back to them.
2. Question everything
Unfortunately, the high risk label during pregnancy often comes hand in hand with certain guidelines that may be more led by policy than patients. I heard things such as “a water birth won’t be allowed”, “we will induce you at 40 weeks” and even “you can’t birth at home”. It’s important to know that in any pregnancy, you have rights. You must consent to everything so you need to understand the benefits and risks of any and all intervention. Asking plenty of questions at your next midwife appointment will allow you to regain some control and you might find alternative solutions that work well for you and your baby.
3. Remember that you have time to make decisions
We often assume that we have to make a decision right there and then. Panic sets in and we might later come to regret our choices. Consultant/midwife appointments can be stressful for anyone experiencing a high risk pregnancy. Here’s a sentence that I used at the end of all of my appointments: “thank you for all of the information, I am going to go home and digest everything and I will be in touch soon.” Always allow yourself time to think, sleep and breathe before making any decision. Even in more emergent situations, you usually have time to ask for 10 minutes to yourself.
4. Use positive affirmations
Statements that help you to reframe any negative thoughts. During pregnancy, I would often write positive affirmations to help me prepare for birth. Here are a couple of my favourites:
“I breathe in calmness and breathe out tension”
“I focus on what I am in control of and let go of everything else”
“I am strong, I am powerful, I can do this”
Stick them around your home, use them as your screensaver, even set them as your passwords. Affirmations are a great tool to help you build a positive mindset for labour.
5. Find a supportive birth partner
Someone who knows exactly how to support you during pregnancy and labour. Someone who knows what you want and can advocate on your behalf. Someone that you can confide in and share your emotions with. It doesn’t matter whom this person is but having someone by your side, who knows exactly what you want, is just what you need during a high risk pregnancy/labour.
A course that provides you and your birth partner with techniques to help you feel calm, confident and empowered during labour. Hypnobirthing will equip you with so many tools to enable you to feel fully prepared for whatever birth you might have. All of the techniques that you will learn on your course will help you during your pregnancy too, allowing you to switch off for a while and just focus on the here and now.
Finally, remember to breathe and remind yourself of how incredible you are. I hope that these tips come in useful. Please know that you are not alone.
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