For centuries, women all over the world have found themselves for various reasons giving birth alone.
We hear a lot of stories and it never ceases to amaze us the strength and courage of a woman birthing a child.
In these times, where more women are choosing the solo parenting journey coupled with a global pandemic where hospitals are having to make some pretty strict guidelines for the health of the staff and the clients, giving birth alone is a real possibility.
Here are a few tips and tricks to get you through that I hope can make a difference to your experience. Remember, you are not just birthing a baby, you are birthing yourself as a mother too. In my experience as a midwife and lactation consultant, how you feel about the birth can really impact those early newborn days and a positive birth experience will set you up for good decision making from a place of well earned intuition and Mumma fierceness.
It is worth preparing to create the experience you would like to have. You don’t have to hand your body and your power over when you walk through those hospital doors!
Further reading: Mums, adopt these hygienic habits for better baby care.
Expert midwife guidance for birthing alone
Create a support team
You may have to be physically alone for your labour in the hospital but it doesn’t mean you can’t create a circle of support.
Ideally, have a few people you trust that can be with you in your home in early labour if you labour spontaneously. This team can then be in Facetime/phone contact whilst you are labouring in the hospital.
Pack your iPad/phone and chargers to enlist support via technology if you need an encouraging word. Gift your support team some candles light while you are in labour. It will boost your strength knowing there is a small team holding space for you whilst you journey through your labour.
Create a thorough birth plan wish list
Chances are if you are not in a caseload or know your midwife program, you will not know the staff who will be at your birth. Even if you have a private obstetrician to attend toward the end of the birth, you may not have met the midwives who will be caring for you during the majority of the labour.
For this reason, a comprehensive guide to the staff about certain preferences can be extremely useful for you and helpful to your care provider. Such preferences include:
- Not wanting anyone to announce the gender of the baby so you can discover it for yourself
- Maybe you are keeping your placenta or would like delayed cord clamping
- Certain pain management options
Be prepared theoretically, practically and emotionally
Attend a childbirth education class where they can guide you toward the sort of birth you would like and what choices do you need to make to get there.
Perhaps a hypnobirthing or calm birth course could be one great tool in your kit.
Get really clear about how you feel about birth. Think about:
- What messages did you receive growing up about women’s bodies and their ability to birth?
- How were the women in your family treated during birth?
- How would you like to feel in this birth?
Understand the process of birth, the different stages the body goes through and the different points in the labour where you may experience a certain crisis in your confidence.
Pack your bag well prior to your birth and arrange a few options of how you are going to get to hospital so you don’t have to think abut it in early labour
If you’re having a baby shower, invite people to prepare their favourite meal that you can freeze for after baby is born. Have a friend organise a meal roster and people can drop the food in an esky at your front door so that if you’re sleeping or feeding baby you don’t need to host people
ADVICE AND SUPPORT IF YOU ARE BIRTHING ALONE (CONT.)
Inform your care provider
Have it well documented in your pregnancy that you will be labouring alone. It really helps if staff know in advance as they can prepare for this.
Have someone on stand by
If you have an emergency c-section, you made need someone on standby to present to the hospital to care for baby if you get separated whilst you are in recovery from the procedure. You may feel more comfortable with a friend or family member cuddling baby on the ward whilst they await your arrival from theatre, rather than baby having to be admitted to the special care nursery.
Make sure you set boundaries with that person re social media, you may not want them to post photos until you feel ready
In terms of your labour
Remember, many women labour alone in all sorts of different circumstances all over the world.
In a way, labour is a very solo emotional journey for many women and they need to go within themselves to birth their baby. Stay connected to baby through the labour and know that its all worth it, once baby is in your arms, it will all make sense
Tap into what will inspire you and keep your strong
Many women think about what/who inspired them during their pregnancy and use this in their labour. Perhaps it’s an ancestor, your grandmother, an inspiring woman and her story (Australian Birth Stories Podcast is great for this) or a friend who keeps you calm and strong through your pregnancy journey.
Have a favourite pet? Bring something that smells like them to enhance your oxytocin. Bring a favourite pillow, blanket, to bury your face into because the scent of home will really help.
Protect yourself from any negative birth stories, many women are adrenalised during their birth rather than flooded with the love hormone oxytocin. This sets flight or fight in their body which the brain perceives as more painful. Avoid those birth stories and focus on the positive ones.