You find out that you are expecting a baby, and you know that you have the next 9 months to prepare for a life changing experience, but what is it that you really need to do and more importantly, how do you get yourself ready mentally, physically and emotionally? We remember being at that exact point and having so many questions about how and what happens, where to give birth, how will we know what we need or what to do? So we hope that by sharing our journey, it may be of help to others also going through it for the first time and asking the same questions.
We knew that we wanted to take part in some ante-natal classes, and had heard of NCT through friends who had been pregnant so we went about finding our local class. Our main reason initially for going was to create a support network around us locally of other people who are going through the same thing as us, and meet other parents-to-be who we could connect with. We attended a course that ran across a month with 1 or 2 classes per week each lasting around 2 hours. The courses are brilliant, and we actually got much more than we expected. What was really amazing was how much more prepared we both felt, armoured with own new baby/labour/birth knowledge and how much more confident Adam felt about supporting me during labour. The most incredible take away for us though was the people that we met and the undescribable bond that has been created as a result of it. We were all part of the same course based on our due dates, and we all ended up having babies within 1 month of each other. There are 5 couples in total. It is brilliant for the men to be able to talk about things that they don’t really talk about unless they are going through it together, and the support us women gave each other I think we can all safely say is what has got us through this last year. We decided to attend a baby class together each week followed by lunch and a good natter/pick me up/experience sharing session.
Attending any kind of ante-natal classes is 100% something that we would both recommend, and we never realised just how useful it would be until we completed the course.
Hypno-birthing was a term I first heard when my best friend was pregnant. She started talking to me about it knowing that I would find it fascinating with already having a keen interest in meditation, so when it came round to us being pregnant I knew that this was something I wanted to give a go. I believe mindset is everything, and whilst I knew I would be armoured with the knowledge, I also knew there was some mental preparation to be done too. And wow, was I glad I put the effort in. I am convinced that this is what got me through 20 out of my 29 hour labour.
There are many ways that you can look in to/study hypnobirthing when pregnant, and I actually think I did them all. I started off by reading a book (that was passed on to me by my friend) called Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Flecther, but I ended up listening to it on Audible and made sure I played it every day whilst walking the dog: It was the perfect time. (Of course, any of the activities that needed to be completed I did at other times.) I actually ended up listening to the book three times in total, as each time I listened I picked up new things.
We did also attend a days workshop, which if we are completely honest, we found we didn’t necessarily get anything extra from this when we combined it with the book and our NCT classes, but we are glad we went and it was extra time working on one of the things that was most important to us.
I knew that I wanted to stay as active as possible throughout my pregnancy (and luckily my job as a Personal Trainer really helped with this), but I wanted to ensure I took some time out to really look after myself. I did train in the gym, and tried some swimming towards the end but actually ended up really enjoying going to pregnancy yoga classes. These were great as it was a good chance to meet other mums who were also expecting, and they were all geared towards preparing us for the journey we are embarking on, and for any of the symptoms we are currenly experiencing as a result of it. I picked up some great tips around how best to move to ease any back ache (Which included getting out of the car like the Queen.. so yes.. I did become Queen-like for a while), and it was a great chance to switch off from everything and find some time to connect with my baby and to relax too.
I also tried some ante-natal yoga at home, but being one who doesn’t work out that well at home I found the classes most useful. I would recommend ensuring that you feel confident and comfortable to work out on your own if you take this approach as there are alot of considerations when it comes to being pregnant and exercising, but you can find some brilliant videos on youtube.
I found this a great one for getting started and ensuring you have the guidance.
I would also highly recommend Jessica Ennis’ programme: Jennis, which I used several times throughout my pregnancy. You can access taster workouts of around 10 minutes on her youtube channel, but there are also little nuggets such as the following video which can make all the difference:
The Birth Plan
This is most certainly a controversial topic I found when it comes to pregnancy and giving birth. Many women go in to labour with no birth plan at all, which of course is absolutely fine, whilst others have pages and pages of preferences, again absolutely fine. I actually sat somewhere in the middle. I found using the tips from my hypnobirthing course extremely useful as I could ensure that it was clear, but easily readable and short. I made it in to a little activity I could enjoy as well, so sat down quietly with a hot chocolate on a rainy winters day to complete it. After looking through ideas and ways to write a birth plan a few things that I picked up that were useful were the following:
- Know that you may create this, but it also has the ability to go out of the window if necessary given that the safety of you and your unborn child is what is most important. So being flexible and using it as a guide is what is most recommended. Because of this I actually called it birth preferences and not birth plan (the language you use totally sets your mind and your expectation), this was a tip from hypnobirthing which I really loved as I am definitely one who likes a plan and feeling like I am deviating from that could have stressed me out if I had the wrong mindset.
- Keep it short. This is going to be passed on to the midwives, doctors etc who are looking after you as we experienced you can end up getting through quite a few of these if you hit shift rotations, so making it short, precise and easy to follow helps everybody to be on the same page.
- Print off several copies. I found this incredibly useful and would highly recommend this. I had one in my pregnancy notes, one in my hospital bag, another that Adam kept on him so that he could answer any questions if I was in the zone and did not wish to be disturbed, and printed off several extra copies for midwives etc.
Let’s meet you baby
So there you have it, that was our prep and we can honestly say that by the time we have done those things we felt really ready to enter labour, meet our baby and begin our next chapter as parents.
Please feel free to ask us any questions, if we can be of any help whatsoever then we would love to answer them.