Reaching out for support
What should you do to maximise your chances of having a positive birth experience? 1. Krysia Lynch of AIMS suggests writing up a birth preference sheet, a term she prefers to ‘birth plan’. “These are a good thing because they give you a better idea of where you are and what you want,” she says. “They also have to be discussed, which means that you have to have a conversation with your healthcare providers. “Gradually, you will be empowering yourself with more information and getting a better idea of what might happen in labour.” 2. If there is a branch of the Positive Birth Movement in your area attend one of their meetings. These give pregnant women the opportunity to hear the birth experiences of other mothers and in doing so, counter the fear of labour. 3. Make sure that your antenatal classes give you practical tips and techniques for handling the sustained pain of labour. If you don’t find the free hospital-run classes sufficiently informative, Cuidiú runs antenatal courses. These cost upwards of €100. 4. If you are still fearful, seek help. Ask your GP or make an appointment with a therapist who has experience in treating pregnant women. 5. If your labour doesn’t go to plan and you are left reeling from the experience, speak up and ask for answers from your medical team. Often, just knowing why things happened the way they did can help you to make sense of it all. 6. Find the right people to discuss your experience after the birth. If friends and family aren’t receptive Cuidiú runs a parent-toparent post-natal support groups for this very reason. 7. Go online. You’ll find people like Lisa Ryan who blogs about her life with her four-and-a-half-year-old son at www.badmammy.com. She started her blog as a way of telling her own traumatic birth story. “It’s since helped me to open up conversations with other women who didn’t get the births they wanted,” she says.