Being pregnant in Melbourne, you’re not short of birthing workshops to support you through your birth preparation. However, they’re not cheap and they’re aimed at people pregnant with one baby, hoping for ‘normal’ birth experiences. We’re on a bit of a budget, expecting twins and have been repeatedly told by that this will be a ‘medicalised’ birth, with all the interventions you can think of and a high chance of cesarean.
I was still yearning for some time with my partner to prepare, connect, meditate, share our fears and make some birth art inspired by the few birthing books which have resonated. So last weekend, we enjoyed our own agenda and timings, in our homely venue (and with our own catering!)
I’m sharing our process here, so that you can create your own birthing workshop if you want to. I do believe those run professionally are invaluable, but last weekend showed that it is possible to Do It Yourself.
How to… Create a DIY Birthing Workshop
1. Setting the scene
Diarise it: We set aside a Saturday in our diaries in advance. We treated it like we were attending a ‘real’ event, so noone could cancel or double book.
Getting on the same page: The night before, we discussed our aims for the day. This was integral, to be aware of each others expectations. For example, he wanted to start by going for brunch, I wanted to end by going for dinner; I wanted strict timings, he wanted activities to be as long or short as needed. I had read a few books and spoken to a few people about workshops they’d attended, so I had a million suggestions for activities. It was good to narrow these down into ones that resonated for both of us, and ones that met our aims.
Our shared aim was: To confirm birth plan, discuss fears and gather tools for our Birthing Toolbox
Prep work: We individually brainstormed fears as they entered our head in the 24 hours previous and brought these with us.
2. The programme
- Brunch in a cafe nearby
- Acceptance meditation: Discuss what came up for us in the meditation, adding any tools, reminders or affirmations to our toolbox
- Birth art: from Birthing from Within (Pam England)
- Fears: Share, discuss. We went through each fear explaining its origin, how likely we think it is to actually happen and what we would do if it happened.
- Break: walk in the sun, purchase afternoon snack
- Lunch: Leftovers at home
- Pain meditation: From Mind the Bump app
- Birth Plan: We followed a template and filled it in separately on white boards, then came together to discuss and finalise
- Stressful situations: Inspired by Wellness Plans we do in my mental health job, we divided a page into 3 columns
- You know I’m getting stressed when…
- When I’m stressed, it helps to…
- When I’m stressed, I like to hear…
- This has become a reference point for us to use in those anticipated stressful times ahead (he even got it out the next day when I was stressed and said ‘I’ll cook!’).
- Confirm Tools for Toolbox: Affirmations, meditations, reminder points- add to birth plan
- Swim: We’re lucky enough to have a pool in our apartment block!
- Dinner: At a new restaurant down the road using a voucher we’d been kindly gifted, followed by a non-birth related film and ice cream on the sofa.
3. The result
How I felt: Heard, connected, at peace, reassured, ready(!).
How he felt: “Together, calm, ready.”
And these feelings have remained since. Of course it doesn’t mean the fears don’t exist or the toolbox is shut not to be revisited until ‘D* day’, it’s an ongoing process. (D* for Delivery)
If you’d like to create your own birth workshop, keep asking yourselves what’s important for you to cover. Our programme came from what we as individuals wanted to explore, in ways that resonate for us (meditation, art, food!). Yours might look very different depending on your needs and exploration preferences.