A positive birth experience has hugely beneficial effects on you for the rest of your life. It can increase your self-esteem and self-efficacy, mean better acceptance of your role as a mother and strengthens your bond with your baby. Your recollection of your birth experience as either positive or negative, hangs on how in control you felt and the choices you made. So, it pays to be prepared!
“a woman's positive and negative recollections of their birth experiences are related more to feelings and exertion of choice and control than to specific details of the birth experience.”
(Cook and Loomis 2014)
The key to achieving a positive birth experience is to remain at the centre of your birth experience and to be well supported in making the necessary decisions that are right for you and for your baby. But, how do you achieve that? What do you need to do to place you "front and centre"?
Firstly, educate yourself
Taking a prenatal course is the first step in putting yourself front and centre of your birth experience. A birthing class can help you feel confident in your ability to communicate effectively with your caregivers, feel comfortable asking questions and advocating for the care you want. It is important to understand the physiology of childbirth, the complex interplay of your hormones in labour and how your body is perfectly designed to birth your baby.
Being at the centre of your birth experience fits perfectly with the ethos of KG Hypnobirthing, which is to encourage natural childbirth and empower you to be in control. Taking a KG Hypnobirthing course provides a safe space for you and your birth partner to explore what's available to you in pregnancy, birth and on into the early days of parenting. We explore information and practical tools that support you to make informed decisions and communicate more confidently with your caregivers.
Secondly, create a birth proposal
Once you know the birth choices available to you and understand the physiology of childbirth you can move on to preparing a birth proposal. The process of writing your birth proposal encourages you to answer the questions of "what's important to me?" and "what are my choices and alternatives?". With the resources provided by a KG Hypnobirthing Course you are better able to define your preferences, understand your individual needs and make your birth proposal - a proposal that is founded on information and facts rather than fear and assumptions. Using the word proposal rather than plan acknowledges birth doesn't always go the way you hope or expect expect and leaves space for adaptation and change.
Most women either knowingly or unknowingly have an idea of their preferences and how they would like labour to unfold - their birth plan. By, having that proposal in writing you can share it with your caregivers. It is a way of registering your preferences for the process of your labour. Then your wishes can be carried out whilst you concentrate on relaxing, breathing and focusing on the birth of your baby.
Top Tips for Creating Your Birth Proposal
To help you create your birth proposal check out the KGH website where you will find a free interactive birth proposal template.
Thirdly, share your birth proposal
For you to be at the centre of your birth experience everyone involved in your care needs to be supportive of your preferences. So, once you have created your birth proposal it is important to go through it with your birth partner. This enables them to effectively advocate for you in labour.
Then discuss your preferences with your caregivers (midwife or gynaecologist). This gives them the chance to get to know you better and understand your feelings and priorities and provides you the opportunity to ask plenty of questions around your birth. It enables you to find out more about what happens during labour and sets expectations. It also flags up any items that may not be possible or that do not align with their practices or hospital policies. If your caregiver brings up areas of concern, be sure to ask:
After discussing your birth proposal with your caregiver, you should know:
This information helps to provide you with insight on your expectations for birth and whether your caregiver and place of birth is the best choice for your needs.
Provide a copy of your birth proposal to be included it in your file (which will be present at your place of birth during your birth). Additionally, be sure to make a couple of copies to take along with you when you go into labour. Upon arrival at your place of birth, give a copy of your birth proposal to the hospital midwives. Your birth plan also serves as a reminder for those on your birth support team, including your partner, friend/family member, and doula.
Fourthly, be flexible
Sometimes things don’t go according to plan during pregnancy or labour. You need to be flexible and be prepared to do things differently from what you wanted. For example, certain facilities may not be available on the day or there may be complications.
You can talk to your caregivers about what could happen in labour and include your preferences in your birth plan, but don’t worry too much about trying to include everything. Your caregivers should involve you (or your birth partner if necessary) in any decisions that need to be made on the day to make sure your baby is delivered safely.
Yes, you can change your mind!
You can change your mind about your wishes for labour and birth at any time, even during labour if you want to. For example, you may find on the day that you don't want a water birth or that you do want an epidural after all.
Check my blog post Ideas to Help with Your Birth Plan/Proposal for more information and ideas for writing your birth proposal.
The Impact of Choice and Control on Women’s Childbirth Experiences
Katie Cook, MA; Colleen Loomis, PhD
The Journal of Perinatal Education, 21(3), 158–168,