Contrary to what we are often led to believe, birth is not a pathology, pregnancy not some illness that you need rescued from, and labour not a disaster waiting to happen. Sure, every now and then nature turns it into such- a complication obviously means that medical care is both paramount and welcome- but for the vast majority of women, your birth can and should be an entirely positive experience, and one which – with the right environment and the right emotional support- you can do very much under your own steam.
But to think that you can fall pregnant, grow your baby and then waltz through labour on little more than a wing and a prayer is entirely unrealistic. Like any other huge mental and physical endeavour, giving birth takes preparation. If you were going to climb a mountain or run a marathon, you wouldn’t dream of doing it unless you were well and truly prepared. In the same way, birth needs proper preparation.
If the birth process in the West was not so hidden behind closed doors, and instead was much more a part of life as it si in other parts of the world; if we saw other women give birth, helped them through it, understood its peaks and troughs, then very explicit preparation might not be so necessary, though physical and mental strength would be required whatever the situation. But the truth is,most of us we have never seen a birth or even thought about what it entails before we first give birth ourselves.
The marathon or climbing a mountain analogies are good ones when it comes to birth, because like labour and birth these require not simply physical ability but crucially mental stamina and fight. To keep going in a long labour, to pass through the pain threshold, to not give up in the trickier bits is of course a physical endeavour but also in large part a mental endeavour too.
This is exactly why yoga- which focuses on physical strength and flexibility as well as mental stability and the breath is simply the perfect tool for birth preparation- a sort of one stop shopping if you like. Look around for a class near you or at a push rent yourself a yoga for pregnancy dvd to do on a regular basis at home. Mothers who prepare in this way tend to swear by it afterwards and preparation is without doubt one of the keys to a happy and healthy birth.