'I'm a midwife. Here are the 10 things I want you to know before you give birth.'

Pregnancy can be an incredibly overwhelming time full of mixed emotions. Although there is a wealth of information about pregnancy, birth and beyond available, it can seem impossible to know where to begin, and to decipher what’s the most important.

As a midwife working in the system, I often feel defeated as I want to share every ounce of my knowledge with those in my care. Having knowledge and feeling informed about birth processes can be the difference between a positive and negative experience. 

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So I put my brain to work; trying to figure out the 10 most important concepts about birth I think every birthing person should know. When I sat and really pondered the task, there was one common denominator that arises with nearly every encounter I share with birthing people. It stems from the undeniable lack of quality, unbiased, resources, leading to the gut-wrenching feeling that is associated with the thought, 'I wish I knew more'. 

With knowledge, comes power; which leads to feeling empowered, in control, informed and equipped. This is how every birthing person should feel in the lead up to one of life’s most monumental events.


Without further ado, here’s the 10 things I would love every birthing person to know before they meet their baby.

1. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to birth. 

Whether you’re having a vaginal birth, instrumental birth, elective or emergency caesarean or a vaginal birth after caesarean, this is YOUR story.

Birth is unpredictable, even if things are 'predicted' to go according to plan, it can all change at the drop of a hat. It’s important to understand that birth is unique to every person, and every pregnancy. Your birth is your own. Whilst things are never set in stone, it’s important to educate yourself on every possible outcome to ensure you are prepared and informed every step of the way. 

It’s also okay to grieve the birth story you were anticipating. It’s also okay to celebrate your birth without fear of being judged. You did an amazing thing, regardless of whether it was perfect, or totally unpredicted.

2. Know your birth preferences. 

This is an ideal way to understand what appeals to you, and what doesn’t in a birthing sense. Have a chat with your care provider to understand the resources that are on offer for you to utilise throughout your labour, birth and postpartum. 

Look into the pros and cons and gain an idea of what your ideal birth scenario looks like. Ask yourself the questions of: "What pain relief would I like, if any?", "How would I like to birth? Upright? Lying down? In the bath?", these are just some examples of questions that can be asked to decipher your preferences. Once you figure out what your ideal birth looks like, speak with your care providers about it to ensure they can advocate this for you.


3. Know what can assist you during your chosen birth.

This goes together with knowing your birth preferences. Whether you are birthing in hospital or with a private midwife, you need to know what can be used to help you through your birthing experience. Whether this comes in the form of equipment, pain relief, emergency responders or the birth environment; it pays to know exactly what is available to you so you can use it if you need.

Listen to Mamamia's podcast all about birth, The Delivery Room. Story continues below.

4. Education is key.

You wouldn’t walk into a car dealership without doing your research first (at least I hope not!), so it’s important to treat birth with the same attitude. You need to know what you’re in for, and what could potentially occur. 

Take the time to learn the birth process and what various procedures are so you can make informed decisions. The fear of the unknown can be incredibly traumatising in the birth environment, ignorance is not bliss.

Take the time to attend a birth class and ask as many questions as you need to fully understand. There is no such thing as a 'silly' question! The only one that is silly, is the one that you don’t ask.

5. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of her, but Oxytocin is everything! 

It’s the hormone that tells your uterus to get those contractions going, which leads to the birth of your baby! Oxytocin can be increased by being in a familiar environment, spending time with someone you love, doing something you love, and staying nice and relaxed. If it is safe to do so, labouring at home (for as long as you feel safe and comfortable), has great outcomes regarding labour progression. 


If you need to go into a birth suite, don’t stress! There are ways to make the hospital environment rich with Oxytocin! It can be as simple as battery operated candles, playing music you love, holding your loved one’s hand, and feeling safe and comfortable.

6. Trust your instincts. 

Listen to that 'gut feeling', if you feel unsafe at any point in time, make sure you tell someone. You are in control of your body; you are the person who has a say about what happens in your birth scenario. If something doesn’t sit well with you, explore why, ask questions until you fully understand, or ask for alternative options. You do not have to do anything you don’t want to.

7. Advocate for yourself.

Once again, birth is happening to you. You are the one person who decides exactly what happens to you in the birth scenario. If something doesn’t sit well, speak up and let your preferences be heard. You are allowed to say no. If you’re concerned about your baby, be their voice! 

If you are worried you won’t be able to speak up (either because you are labouring or are like me and find it difficult to stand up for yourself), ask someone you trust to act as an advocate on your behalf. This can be a partner, support person, doula, or student midwife. Be sure to explain your birth preferences to them before the labour, so they can act within your best interests.


8. It's all okay.

It’s important to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel what you are feeling, it’s okay to just do your best for you and your baby, it’s okay to take time for yourself, it’s okay to miss your old self, it’s okay to feel whatever you are feeling. 

You are doing the best you can and that’s okay! You’ve got this.

9. Stress less about appearances.

I want you to know that before birth; you don’t need to shave your pubes; you don’t need to fake tan; you don’t need to worry about pooing yourself (there’s a 90 per cent chance you will). The truth is - we don’t care!

What we care about the most is that you feel calm, protected, reassured, and supported through labour and birth. 

Midwives see all sorts of bodies, all sorts of fluid, and all sorts of different people. We truly are not thinking about the length of your pubic hair, or the lack of fake tan, or that you will probably pass a little poo nugget whilst pushing! All we care about, is that you and your baby are safe, healthy, and happy. I promise you. Stress less!


10. You are never in the wrong for protecting yourself and your baby.

It’s okay to ask as many questions as you need to feel informed, it’s okay to say no, it’s okay to say yes! Your body, your baby, your decision. 

A good health professional will always support you with your decisions, they should not judge you, or make you feel like you’re doing the wrong thing. If they are, seek help elsewhere. You are already an amazing mother, it’s okay to not have all the answers, but it’s important to find someone with the answers that allow you to feel empowered and supported as you navigate motherhood and beyond.

I truly hope your birth experience is everything you hoped it would be. If it doesn’t work out the way you planned, allow yourself to feel the emotions, debrief with your care providers, and start the healing process as soon as you can. 

You are a mother from conception; you are going to be amazing, and you are going to smash birth and beyond out of the park! 

I believe in you mumma, so please believe in yourself.

Midwife Zoe Willcox aims to empower birthing people through unbiased, supportive, easy to understand education, encouraging you to birth without fear. Find out more about her via her Instagram @midwifezoe

Feature Image: Supplied.

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