This month it is my 10 year anniversary for Better Birth & Baby. Over these past 10 years I have supported over 300 pregnant women and their birth partners on their pregnancy and birth journeys. It has been a journey for me too, I have learnt so much. There have been some highs and lows along the way, but the highs have definitely outweighed the lows. The thing that has surprised me the most has been the consistent positive birth stories from those I support, but I have also been taught a few lessons along the way.
What I have learnt
The main lesson I have learnt is that everyone is different, and so teaching the same course or class content isn’t effective. We all learn differently, gain knowledge in various ways and most importantly, where one relaxation or hypnobirthing technique works for one person, it may not work for the next. This has led me to adapt any offer or support I provide to the individual person, couple or group and also means that I often take couples through a number of techniques to find what works for them. This has led to more bespoke birth coaching sessions and 1 to 1 courses, and to be honest, I love that, mainly because I have found that it is extremely effective in helping couples to have the birth they want.
Strangely, another lesson I have learnt almost contradicts what I have just said, and that is that we are all capable of achieving the same thing – a positive birth experience. Every woman or couple I see may come to me with a number of different worries or fears but it is possible for every single one to have a positive experience, where they feel in control and making their own evidence-based decisions, no matter what birth journey they have.
And whilst I am talking about feeling in control, there holds another lesson. All of us want to feel in control, and one of the ways we can achieve that is gaining knowledge about the thing that we want to feel in control of. So, if that is labour and birth – learn about how it works! This will, in turn, help you to trust in your body, to let it do what it is designed to do.
Then there is something I call ‘determination’. I have found over the years that those women who are determined to have the birth they want usually achieve just that. The more effort you put in to your education and birth preparation, the more likely you will have the birth you want, AND when you have the birth you want you will happily do it all over again, and recall it to anyone who will listen! I now make sure every one of my couples know this.
The last lesson
Which brings me onto the last lesson – but I’m sure not the last lesson I will ever learn – and that is that a positive birth looks different for everyone. Some will feel that they have had a positive experience when they have had interventions or an unplanned caesarean and for others a positive birth is one where they have birthed in a pool at home. I learnt this one pretty early on in my career as a birth supporter and it has been an ongoing theme that has flowed through everything I do.
Some of these lessons have gradually moved me from being a practitioner or teacher over the years to being a coach or mentor. The experience and knowledge I have gained has enabled this, but it has also felt like a natural progression. I now whole-heartedly believe it is important that I coach or mentor because what I do is so much more than teach or educate.
I also support, suggest, guide, help, advocate, analyse, release, hold space and listen!
I am eternally grateful for these lessons and to be in the position I am now in and with the experience and knowledge I now have. Thank you to every one of you who has invested in me (and in you and your baby!) and helped me on this fabulous journey, and I hope to help at least another 300 of you and learn even more valuable lessons along the way.