Preparation For Birth
The first principle of attachment parenting is preparing for pregnancy and birth. Having not discovered attachment parenting until long after my daughter was born, and being naive and almost certainly in denial about how my life was about to change, I did virtually no preparation for childbirth. I regret this now, and wish I had had all the information I have now at my disposal when I was pregnant!
Since then I've spoken to many mums about how they prepared for birth, and what advice they would give to others. I have also read birth stories and reflected on my own journey into motherhood. These are the key themes that seem to resonate with most mums:
Giving birth is a strenuous event! The stronger and fitter your body is, the easier you will find the whole process. This was one of the few areas where I did prepare, walking my dogs daily up until the very day I gave birth. But swimming, dancing and especially prenatal yoga are all great choices too. Always check with your doctor before commencing any exercise regime, but gentle daily exercise will improve your strength and stamina.
Maintaining a healthy diet, despite how nauseous you may feel at times, should be a priority for all pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy. Sticking to a healthy weight will reduce the risk of complications and ensure your body is fit and healthy. Try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, as well as complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and pasta.
This is one of the key things that came up among women I have spoken to. And it's not something I ever considered. I have heard good things about hypnobirthing specifically, and the more research I do into the subject, the more enthralled I am. Women identify that the relaxation techniques learned, and the positive, in-control mind-set, all lead to an easier and more pleasant birth experience.
Know your rights:
One of the keys areas I struggled with when giving birth was my lack of knowledge of the process and my rights. I had read some information on what to expect, but did no research on my choices during labour; simply doing as I was told. This led to a feeling of disempowerment and a lack of control. I would advise all women to learn about what to expect in labour; what can go wrong, and what your choices are throughout the whole process. Take control of your own birth and be informed about your rights regarding treatment and the choices offered to you. You may not be in the right frame of mind during labour to understand the choices presented to you, so make sure you are prepared beforehand. Also be aware of your rights regarding your due date, homebirth, interventions such as cord-cutting, etc.
Talk to your partner and others about your feelings and anxieties. Only by recognising your insecurities can you work through them. Also, speaking to your partner throughout the whole process helps to foster a feeling of togetherness and bonding. This will stand you in good stead for the process of labour and the days of parenting to come.
Research, research, RESEARCH!
Again, this is an area I almost completely neglected! And it's something I regret. Research the different choices available to you when it comes to labour; whether it be pain-relief, birth positions or whether to utilise a doula. Be informed about the different newborn interventions such as Vitamin K injections, circumcision or simply skin-to-skin contact. Find out about the different parenting techniques; reading books and articles on a variety of parenting styles; speaking to other mums out there, and talking to your partner about the choices available to you. Learn about breastfeeding; what issues you might encounter and how you might combat them.
And finally, instincts:
In this society we've become increasingly detached from our instincts. Becoming a mother offers you the prime opportunity to learn to listen to your body and your heart, and do what feels right for you. This is one area I did learn to trust, and I'm very grateful for it. And other mothers I have spoken to identify that above all else, their instincts are what matters. If someone suggests something that seems completely alien to you, then ignore them! It is your body, your choice and your child. No amount of parenting advice books can compensate for your own feelings, and the minute you start ignoring your instincts is the minute you stop listening to your body and your child.