Birth Plan? How about the Pre-Birth Plan?!
In my role as a Hypnobirthing teacher, the couples I teach hear a lot about the importance of writing a birth plan BUT I also always encourage them to knock up a Pre-Birth Plan too. So what IS this?! Well … it is essentially a list of lovely and indulgent things you hope to do before you give birth.
The waiting can be TOUGH which may sound a little crazy to those still at work and longing for maternity leave but women often seem to struggle to know what to do with this ‘gift of time’. Those of you out there who have undertaken a Hypnobirthing course or have read up on the subject will know the dubious reliability of ‘the due date’. This is possibly the least accurate date you are ever likely to be given. Essentially your baby and your body decide when labour will begin and in our society where we are used to being in control of what we do and when we do it, this is hard to get our heads round.
My advice …. take back control by changing your mindset! ‘Due date’ come and gone .. ?! Who cares?! Hooray! You have more time to enjoy yourself! This is where the pre-birth plan comes in …
So. We are always too busy in life right? Always have things we long to do or wish we could do better if only there were more hours in the day? Well this is your time to do them! Once your bundle of gorgeousness arrives your time will no longer be your own (in a whole new, rather lovely way) BUT your world will revolve around them, at least for the first few weeks.
For the first part of your maternity leave, while you are still pregnant, this is YOUR time, particularly if it is your first baby. If you already have a brood this may prove trickier, but equally try and make time for YOU.
This is how the pre-birth plan works. Write a list of all the things you want to do (almost a bucket list) and schedule them in. They can be simple pleasures or more grand plans …. Probably best to shelve the backpacking round South America for now though ….
When I say schedule them in, literally get out your diary and pop them in on certain days and make sure you continue to plan for the two weeks or so after your due date (and possibly beyond) as, as I previously stated no-one has told your baby the date they are expected!
These are my current top 10 things to put on a pre-birth plan and things I hope to be doing myself:
- Go on dates with your partner.
We already have 2 children so this will need a little planning in my case but it is so important to strengthen your relationship as a couple before the whirlwind of a baby arrives. I want to have a couple of indulgent meals out; go for walks; go to the sea for the day … just spend a little time together and possibly even have a whole conversation … and maybe not about the children or the baby ;)
2. See friends.
I am not suggesting you won’t see your friends post-birth – of course you will! But it is a great time to catch up with them beforehand. Perhaps you can’t go out drinking as you might have done 9 months previously but do something fun together … I personally want to book in a West End show and a little retail therapy.
When every couple finishes their course with me I always give them a booklet for a local beauty salon ‘Georgina Beauty Rooms’. This is an amazing salon close to Chelmsford in Essex which does gorgeous pregnancy treatments. It is set in the countryside, the staff are lovely and highly trained in pregnancy treatments … and the best thing?! You get snacks!! They do a range of treatments including the ‘Ultimate Rose Pregnancy Massage’ and essentially they all sound divine! I am off to be pampered there in April and cannot wait. Check out the salon at here.
This is also a great time to have your roots done, a pedicure, perhaps a little wax … If you fancy having your hair and nails done in the comfort of your own home I thoroughly recommend BellaEve. She is a fab hairdresser and nail artist and finding yourself a great home hairdresser is a fantastic resource for the future when getting to a salon can be tricky.
Rather than sit around getting jittery about your impending birth, prepare for it! Having acupuncture or reflexology (or both) are a great way to prepare your body for birth. Check out Just The Spot Reflexology if you live in Chelmsford. Debbie is a wonderful practitioner who comes to you so you can relax in the familiar surroundings of your own home. Or if acupuncture is more your thing Penelope Morrison is amazing. Wherever you live find a practitioner that specialises in pregnancy treatments.
I am obviously biased but Hypnobirthing is in my opinion the best preparation a woman and her birth partner can undertake in the lead up to their birth. If you don’t know much about it, the basics are that you are taught a whole host of techniques to use at your birth which will keep you calm, confident and comfortable throughout. Techniques include the best way to breathe, massage, relaxations and a huge amount more. These techniques are not only invaluable in labour but also benefit you hugely in pregnancy and post-birth and give your birth partner a really integral role in the birth. Get excited about your birth rather than worried about it! It is never too late to learn these techniques and there are many fantastic resources out there so get relaxing and preparing!
This may or may not appeal to you but it is such a good idea to get your body well prepared for birth. Sitting on the sofa in a ‘reclined’ position is literally the worst thing you can do as it encourages your baby to sink into a position not optimal for birth. So! Go for gentle walks in an interesting location … whether that is round John Lewis or the local county park. Swim! Swimming is awesome as it gives your baby maximum space to wriggle into a great position and all the weight is taken from you – bliss! You might like to try a class such as AquaNatal – I can totally recommend Aqua4baby in Chelmsford. This is essentially a gentle exercise class in the water with a delicious section at the end where you ‘float’ and take time to bond with your baby – it really is delightful. Do yoga! I go to an amazing local yoga class run by the fabulous Yoga with Vikki. This again is fantastic preparation for birth as you are encouraging your baby into the best position possible and strengthening your muscles. She also does a brilliant relaxation at the end which is just lovely.
You will love yourself post-birth if you batch cook before you have your baby. Spend a few mornings whipping up huge quantities of food you love and store them in the freezer in portions for you to eat in the weeks after your birth. It is SO worth doing this as it is really important to eat well post-birth and this takes all effort out of it.
If you are a first time mum, this is the only maternity leave you will have without a child for the first few weeks (next time round you will have a toddler to contend with too!). My advice therefore is to totally indulge in this ‘me time’. Have baths at 2 pm ‘just because you can’, go to the cinema at 10 am ‘just because you can’, read books, flick through trashy magazines, go out for lunch or breakfast or dinner or all three! Essentially please yourself – because you can! If you are a mum who already has a little human or two try and arrange some childcare to give you the opportunity to indulge too – you know you deserve it.
8. Have a sort out.
There is nothing more satisfying than shifting some ‘stuff’ and it is a great way to feel more organised and ready for when your baby arrives. As dull as it sounds I have just gone through all the cupboards in my utility room and recycled a whole load of junk that was cluttering up the cupboards. Did I enjoy it at the time? Not much! But now when my children want to paint a picture or I want to locate the washing powder I can actually find it without the danger of opening a cupboard and everything falling out on my head! It is not exciting but has definitely made my life that bit easier. Next I have to tackle my wardrobes …. Sigh …
9. Take up a hobby
This is probably not the time to start rock climbing or white water rafting BUT loads of us have things we love to do or want to try but really lack the time to do them in everyday life. THIS IS YOUR CHANCE! Whether it is growing some veggies in your garden, attempting to knit or learning how to make hats … have a go! You might find a new passion you love and you can continue this for the rest of your maternity leave and beyond. For me it is going to be customising some clothes. I love to sew but lack the time and I have been hording cool accessories, buttons, pockets and all sorts and I am determined to rip up some of my clothes and redesign them when I have a minute or two.
10. STOP and be mindful
This is so important. Glorify in the beauty of your pregnant body. Take photos of yourself. Play with your baby while they are still inside you – rub them, tickle them, play them music, read them stories. Simply marvel in the fact that you have grown this little person and you are soon going to meet them – when THEY are ready – there is no rush.
So … there is no excuse for refolding the baby clothes in the drawer several times or wandering around your house aimlessly becoming stressed about when this stubborn baby will make an appearance … get out there and enjoy yourself! Get on and make your own ‘pre-birth’ plan!