Communication Tools: Birth Preferences for your Birth Plan

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Your needs in birth are as individual as you are.

Your experience of labour and birth should be exactly that – YOURS. Every birth is unique and each woman will approach childbirth in her own way. It is important that you have the information you need to decide what is right for you and your baby, and that your experience of labour and birth reflects these wants and wishes. Continue reading


Taking the birthing world by calm

More and more Irish women are coming to the realisation that it is possible to birth comfortably and peacefully, even in a busy hospital environment

By Claire Maguire

When positive birthing stories begin to outweigh negative ones, you know you are doing something right. Being relaxed and self-assured are the main reasons why so many mothers are birthing their babies with zero drama nowadays.

However, don’t be misguided, to come to this point where a comfortable easy birth is possible preparation is key. First-time mothers tend to have long labours and many factors contribute to this. The unknown means they do not know what to expect of themselves or their bodies, which often means impatience sets in. Constant monitoring and waiting for the one to 10 dilation period adds tension to the body.

Adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone) gushes through the body, preventing the natural oxytocin hormone from releasing. When fear or panic takes over a woman’s body, even at a subtle level, labour can slow, contractions cease and out comes the term ‘FTP’ (failure to progress).

Being on a hospital timeline means that women who are having normal healthy births are often induced. Being ‘on the clock’ means that first-time mums feel unable to birth at their own pace. Their ‘zone’ I often talk about at my yoga classes is lost even before it’s begun.

Oxytocin (the love hormone) releases naturally, adrenaline nowhere to be felt. The cervix is relaxed, as is the baby, and with some patience and support from the midwives a content relaxed baby is born and the mother gets the rush of endorphins, giving her a natural high.

What is becoming more apparent is the emergence of second-time mothers having very positive birth stories. Most come to my yoga and birthing conscious classes with a very different frame of mind. An outlook of doing all they can in their womanly power to make sure their first birthing experience is not repeated. These women are more confident in their bodies and through the physical practice of the yoga postures get to know their bodies and its boundaries very well.

Training their breath, which can often be a harder task, lends them the power to be more relaxed and in tune with the growing life inside them. Knowing that by using their voice, be it deep sighs or low tones or vibrations, contractions are far easier to handle since their bodies are relaxed as well as their minds.

Oxytocin (the love hormone) releases naturally, adrenaline nowhere to be felt. The cervix is relaxed, as is the baby, and with some patience and support from the midwives a content relaxed baby is born and the mother gets the rush of endorphins, giving her a natural high. That natural high is something that every birthing mother deserves and must experience. It simply never leaves you and is one of life’s great pleasures.

Birthing preferences give mothers a voice that otherwise get lost during the labour process. Requesting dim lights in the labour suite, or a calm atmosphere or no to intervention makes a world of difference.

During my pre-natal training with my wonderful Canadian teacher, Janice Clarfield, finding and remaining in ‘the zone’ was spoken about in depth. She said many times over how possible it is to stay in a calm, relaxed state whether birthing in a busy hospital or at home. If ‘the zone’ is lost during the car journey to hospital or on arrival, it is possible to retrieve it once supported by a calm relaxed atmosphere.

In the 1980s, monitors were originally introduced to hospitals in the US for high-risk birthing women. What evolved over the years and fed out to other countries was the emergence of these monitors in all-labour suites. The rate of increase in surgical births here and abroad is not just happening to women who are deemed to be having complicated pregnancies but those who are deemed ‘healthy’ with ‘normal pregnancies’ are included in the rise and rise of Caesarean births.

Viewing the birthing process as a natural occurrence rather than a medical issue is key to changing attitudes to how we birth in this country.

Claire Maguire teaches pregnancy yoga and birthing conscious classes at The Yoga Room, Ashbourne.

Thank You Letter to a Midwife in Our Lady of Lourdes


“I had a very emotional pregnancy and was quite anxious coming up to my baby’s birth. I had transferred my care to Dublin, rather than our local unit. It was the winter of very wintery weather, and the snow added to the worries and stresses as I was booked into a unit over an hour away. On the morning of Dec 20th, my labour started and we quickly knew we would not make Dublin. I was quite upset over this. We made our way in the snow and ice to the hospital. I was admitted at 9cm dilated and in transition. I was finding it quite tough due to an injury in the coccyx and the midwife I had was not sympathetic to this nor my needs. She wanted me on the bed, with CTG on continuously, and to push despite not having an urge. My contractions started to space out and I had a thick anterior lip on the cervix that wasn’t coming away. The midwife wanted to use oxytocin. I felt like everything was spiraling out of control and no one was listening to me – I wanted to stand, get off the bed, no CTG. (there was no reason for CTG, just midwife more comfortable with it as I was a transfer). I become more and more upset and the contractions got more and more spaced…… following a tense conversation (refusing oxytocin and my partner & I getting quite upset).

A new midwife took over named Emer. She was immediately a relief. She was calm and understanding and supportive. She recognised how anxious I was being there. She listened to my preferences. I was still 9cm dilated and with every contraction had a gush of waters. I had no urge to push. Emer told me I had a thick anterior lip on the cervix and that had to come away before I could have my baby. I remained standing by the bed. Emer brought in a birth ball, massage tools for my back, and a cd player so I could listen to music. She occasionally would take the baby’s heartrate intermittently as I stood and swayed. She would assure me all was well and let me get on with it. She was a quiet and calm force in the background, never imposing. Just what I needed.

After about a 1/2 hr of standing, my contractions started picking back up again. The waters kept gushing. At this stage I was in transition about 2 hrs! Suddenly, I had a few strong contractions, felt another little gush and felt the baby slip down. Emer asked me if I wanted to stay standing for the birth – I did. She got down on her knees and her gentle voice reminded me to open my legs for my baby. I started bearing down and after a few pushes my baby girl was born as I stood by the bed. I had no tears or need for stitches.

My entire labour was 3hrs – I was 2hrs in the hospital. When I think that oxytocin was prescribed…. Emer, was amazing. Her support was so vital. She believed in me, gave me time, and supported my choices. I would have had a very different experience had she not been my midwife and I am so thankful for her.”