Knowing that a baby is coming into the family creates this intense desire where many couples want to make changes to get everything right for when the baby comes. This often includes moving house, moving city or state, renovating or changing jobs.
On the Stress Scale these life events rate high, and when you add them to the “stress” of having a baby, this leaves many couples super-stressing more and more as the birth approaches, as they face deadlines for having the kitchen finished or getting the boxes unpacked, or dealing with a new job.
I find that as women finish work to start maternity leave, many partners start working longer hours or take on extra jobs as they realise the implications of now only earning one income. So right as the pregnant woman wants more support from her partner because she’s feeling hormonal and facing the reality that the baby has to come out, partners are focussing elsewhere. More stress.
How does that work for couples who want a calm, relaxed and natural birth? It doesn’t work very well in my experience. Hormones instruct birth in a complex but straightforward way (have you read Sarah Buckley’s explanation of the “cocktail of birthing hormones?” Basically, if a woman is calm and relaxed, if she feels educated and prepared and if she trusts her partner and her caregivers, her cervix will be happy to open to release her baby.
If she’s stressed, feels unprepared, unsupported and in a state of change rather than being able to nest and daydream in the baby’s nursery, she’ll be pumping out stress hormones which are likely to delay the start of labour, create tension through tight muscles which could prevent the baby from getting into a great position for birth, and once labour begins, it could be hard for her to relax and let the contractions flow. This causes pain, longer labours and a need for drugs and medical procedures to speed up the birth or to cope with the excess pain. Yes, that’s most women’s experience of birth and it’s not good.
“Reducing the stress and pressures of work by finishing at 35 weeks of pregnancy meant that I was able to relax and become calm over the last weeks before labour began,” said Tiff, mother of Stella who’s now 4 ½ months old. “I had time to shift my mindset which made a huge difference to my birth. When you’re stressed at work you don’t have the capacity to be able to relax.”
Tiff and her partner prepared for their daughter’s birth by attending my Calmbirth course. They accepted the concepts and practiced the techniques leading up to the birth and were thrilled to have a great birth. “Everything went really well for Mum and Stella. We’re in a love cocoon at home feeding and sleeping. We had a wonderful experience” said Tiff.
“You can’t go from being so stressed at work to getting straight into birth mode; it takes a few weeks.” Just like when you go on holiday and spend the first few days with a cold because your body is switching from stress mode to relaxation mode. Then you start to relax just as it’s time to come home and you wish you had an extra week.
I talk to my clients early in their pregnancies about deciding what changes they’re going to make and to aim for doing them earlier in pregnancy than later. It will save a whole lot of stress, and give them time in the last month of pregnancy to nest, relax, get used to being off work, prepare for the birth and the baby, have lots of cuddles with their loved-ones and build up a huge store of oxytocin, all ready for a love-filled, safe and healthy birth experience.
Have a look at the I’m Pregnant page to see all that I offer to ensure you are completely prepared for your precious baby’s birth.