It’s a difficult issue and one which is never perfect but it’s an important issue which I try to focus on with my classes and with my writing.
Some people have general expectations about birth and others are more fixed, which a specific labour/birth in mind – this is all really valid and normal.
Getting the balance right can be difficult though – over the years I have spoken to make mums who have only focused on some type of hypno as their birth prep and have felt completely equipped and prepared for the reality, which could mean more challenges.
Every birth practitioner has a difference perspective on this, as does every pregnant woman – some focus only on straightforward birth for fear of jinxing it by learning more about caesareans and interventions, others focus on the straightforward and the complicated.
I am a well trained and experienced antenatal teacher and I know dealing with expectations will never be spot on for every expectant parent – my practice is all about knowledge, skills and assertiveness for straightforward & more complicated labours and births, with a good dollop of knowing more about your options. It’s about knowing more about what is going to help and what might not, as well as being able to adjust your need for information, support, reassurance, strategies and options as your labour unfolds and if your ‘plan’ should change.
I have attended many births and I have now worked with thousands of parents with my antenatal & postnatal classes and I strongly believe that managing expectations is crucial so you know more of what to expect of the reality of birth – working with and managing contractions and energy, saying what you need, pain management, knowing what you have more control over, being assertive, communicating well with your midwife, and always gathering information so you know your options.
When it comes to having more realistic expectations, my job is to get you to think about the issues you might not have considered – beyond birth information, there is also an experienced perspective, the chance to ask questions and it is always about knowing more about your options.
Reading, conversations and sessions about having more realistic expectations helps to put you at the centre of your care and that can be essential.
Janine Smith | a specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting
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