Every woman is different, every set of parents are different, every pregnancy is different and so is every baby.
What you need won't necessarily be what your best friend or sister needed.
Pregnancy can be a time when women feel generalised, when people's opinions become intrusive and when suddenly there seem to be a whole lot of rules that you are being told to live by for 9 months (spoiler alert - it doesn't stop at birth).
If you are given the time, space and respect, you will discover how you want to prepare for birth and motherhood, how you want to plan to give birth and how you want to be supported during the first weeks of motherhood.
Your life so far has brought you to the verge of motherhood and that is the only qualification that you need.
One of the options that you have for antenatal preparation is pregnancy coaching. This isn't yet as common as going to group antenatal courses, but may be offered by doulas, hypnobirthing practitioners, private antenatal teachers or other pregnancy and birth professionals. Pregnancy coaching may be offered as a series of video or audio calls, or face-to-face. During pregnancy coaching you aren't 'taught' how to prepare for your baby. You discover how you want to prepare for your birth experience and are provided the resources, discussion, information and suggestions to support that process.
Pregnancy coaching might be brilliant for you if you are struggling to find time to attend an antenatal course because you are working, or because you already have other children. The thought of attending group antenatal classes might bring you out in a cold sweat! Or you might feel that antenatal sessions that are entirely tailored to you are a more effective way of preparing for your individual birth experience. Or you may be attending an antenatal course but want the time and attention to explore your pregnancy experience and birth preparation further.
In maternity systems where you may rarely see the same medical professional twice and appointment times are curtailed, building a relationship with trusted person can become a real cornerstone of confidence during pregnancy and the postnatal period. Knowing that you have plenty of time to explore your feelings or discuss your research can bring calm and happiness to your months of being a walking, human-growing miracle!
There is a hormone, oxytocin, that I sometimes call 'birth fuel'. It also gets called the love hormone. It creates contractions and is essential for a smooth labour and birth. Some of the things that promote oxytocin in the body, which we release throughout our lives in lower amounts, include privacy, warmth, feeling lovingly supported, being listened to, being spoken to encouragingly and feeling safe. The positive personal attention of pregnancy coaching brings all these things to antenatal preparation, to get those oxytocin boosts calming and restoring you.
There is no right or wrong way to prepare for birth or give birth. But there will be a way that is right for you. There will be decisions you need to make or knowledge you want to be secure in. But you can continue to be yourself throughout pregnancy - and motherhood. It sounds so obvious but it can be so easily lost sight of as we feel we should be spending our time at nursery rhyme groups.
A client of mine once got told she should 'take one for the team' and go to a baby music class that just wasn't her bag. We receive so many messages, some much subtler and so more dangerous than this, that once we are pregnant we should start doing things the way the professionals want us to, that we should be behaving, being 'good'.
In fact, pregnancy, birth and motherhood are times of personal transformation that do not follow a pre-planned route. You might not need bunnies and pastel colours, you might need to feel more grown-up and powerful than you ever have before.
Pregnancy coaching with me is a totally you-centred service. My sessions with each mother (partners are welcome on the calls) are individual and don't follow a set format. I also describe this service as 'distance doulaing'.
You may wish to work on understanding and dissolving particular birth related anxieties, or you may want to talk about how to get ready for the actual arrival of the b-a-b-y. You may want a neutral sounding board for your birth plan whilst family and friends are all telling you what to do from the sidelines. You may need to schedule quality, effective antenatal preparation between your meetings with your own clients! You may want to curl up on the sofa in your pyjamas after your duracell toddler has gone to bed and take some mental space for birth preparation with your feet up.
You can find out more about pregnancy coaching with me here
Is there a way that you have been made to feel you should conform during pregnancy or as a new mother? Let me know in the comments below.