Numerous studies in the last 50 years indicate that when birth is active the advantages are:
- the natural rhythm and continuity of birth are not disrupted
- uterine contractions are stronger, more regular and frequent
- dilation is enhanced
- more complete relaxation is possible between contractions
- first and second stages of labour are shorter – some studies show over 40 percent shorter in upright positions
- there is greater comfort, less strain and pain, so decreased need for analgesia
- the condition of the newborn is generally optimal
- women feel that they are fully participating, in control and more often experience giving birth as a wonderful and joyous experience
Why Active Birth?
Active Birth aims to prepare you and your birth partner for a positive birth experience not only physically, but mentally too. Attending an Active Birth Workshop will empower you both and fill you with confidence.
When is the best time to attend an Active Birth workshop?
Any time after your 20 week scan
Is Active Birth only for home births?
No. Active Birth can be used in any environment. Unless there are medical complications in your pregnancy, you should be able to remain physically active during your labour and birth. The Active Birth workshop will provide you with detailed information about the physiology of birth, the hormones that are important for positive natural birth and how to optimise these in any environment.
Do I need to be physically fit to have an ‘Active’ birth?
No. During the workshop you will be shown, and will practice gentle movements and positions to optimise your labour and birth – these movements do not require a high level of fitness. Aside from physical positions, Active Birth is also about being informed and ‘active’ in your decision making regarding your birth. Being empowered to make active choices can contribute to a positive birth experience even in cases where medical intervention is neccessary for the safety of mother and baby.
Can I still remain active if I have SPD / PGP?
Yes, there are many options available to you with some adaptions especially for pelvic pain.
Can I still have an Active Birth if I am being induced?
Yes, there are a variety of techniques, positions and movements that are suitable with the induction process
What if I choose to have pain relief or medical interventions become neccessary during my birth?
You will learn a number of tools that will enable you to remain as active as possible, no matter how your birth unfolds. For example, the breathing exercises and visualisations/affirmations practised can even be used during a Ceasarean Birth.
How do I know if Active Birth is right for me?
The Active Birth workshop aims to maximise your chances of having a positive birth experience. We do not go into huge detail about medical intervention and pain relief (a handbook written by Janet Balaskas is provided to you if you book onto the full day workshop). We do mention various cirumstances that may arise in a normal labour and birth and suggest a few ways in which to remain active should pain relief be chosen, or medical intervention become necessary for the health of mother and baby. The ultimate outcome of this workshop is to empower women and their partners in all aspects of the birthing process and to feel confident in discussing options with Health Care Providers.
How do I book onto a Workshop?
Please contact me via the contact page / email or phone and I will send you a booking form which includes details on how to pay and my terms and conditions
If you are a first time mum, nervous about giving birth – Active Birth can de-mystify the process, explain in simple language how you can increase your chances of a positive birth experience and fill you with confidence
If you have had a previous traumatic birth experience – Active Birth can help you to reconnect with your body, understand how fears and emotions may impact on your birth and reassure you of the amazing ability of the female body to give birth
If you have had previous positive births – Active Birth can refresh your knowledge of birth, physiology and hormones, and give you some time and space to focus on this birth
The central principle of an active birth, is for the woman to be free to move spontaneously and be led by her body, adopting upright positions during labour and birth. This practice makes birth easier, safer, more efficient and less painful.
Janet Balaskas coined the term ‘active birth’ and she is now internationally renowned for organising several groundbreaking events and conferences in the UK. These events stimulated the historic changes that have taken place in the UK in recent decades and continue to revolutionise maternity services today. Janet still works and teaches at The Active Birth Centre in London and is passionate about empowering women to understand their choices for labour and birth so that they have a positive experience.
When I tell people what I do, (usually mums at playgroups during the week) sometimes I get a knowing smile…but often I get a slightly confused look and then get asked: ‘so what’s that then?’ and ‘how is that any different from other birthing classes?’ and ‘so does active birth mean that you have to stay upright and moving about all the time?…’
Well, I will give it my best shot at hopefully helping you to understand a bit more about what it is I do, and how active birth might help you during your labour and birth. So… ‘Active Birth’ can sound a little…energetic? shall we say? but it’s not supposed to be an endurance test! and its certainly not about moving constantly during labour and wearing yourself out. Certainly, there are positions and movements that can be beneficial during labour and birth, and that is where I come in.
My ‘job’ is to offer information, and a variety of techniques, which might be chosen during your labour and birth. I use the word ‘chosen’ here, as I am not prescriptive, there are no should’s or shouldnts’. I am there to present the options and to encourage you and your partner to ‘try things out’ before the birth of your baby, a bit like a rehearsal for the birth. This opens the door to seeing, feeling and practicing what might be right for you during actual labour.
By attending regular classes or coming to a workshop, these techniques can start to feel like second nature during labour and birth, and will ultimately empower you for a positive experience as you will feel more informed and in control of what is happening to your body or to your partners body. Particularly for Dads-to-be, or a birth partner, there is a huge pressure to ‘help’ or be the main support during this time, and I can honestly say that birth partners particularly appreciate coming to a workshop and learning about the mechanics of the pelvis! (as it’s pretty amazing…) and also learning techniques to help their partner during labour – from massage, to positioning, to relaxation and visualisation techniques, to the hormones involved in the birthing process – there are a lot of valuable tools to learn about.
So onto the part where I explain exactly why active birth is called ‘active birth’. The term “active birth” was coined by an antenatal and yoga teacher called Janet Balaskas in the 1970’s. This was a deliberate counterpoint to what was happening in hospitals during that time which was “active management of labour”, a medicalised model of birth, and also the management of women to remain on the bed to give birth. At the time it was simply not allowed in certain hospitals to be free to move. Janet organised a Birth Rights Rally in central london to campaign against this, and so The Active Birth Movement was formed. Ultimately Janet fought for women to have the freedom to use upright positions such as standing, walking, kneeling or squatting during labour and birth.
Janet Balaskas found that the female pelvis is ideally designed for giving birth in upright positions, because the pelvis is then free to expand, making more room and opening up, so that up to a 3rd more space is created for baby to pass through. Plus the use of gravity in such positions not only helps the baby to move down the birth canal more easily, but helps the cervix to dilate, hormones to release, and can also make labour less painful. There are many benefits, more of which is covered in my classes. Like I said earlier, it’s not about staying upright all of the time, it’s important to listen to your body and to rest if you need to. There are ways of finding comfort and relaxation whilst still allowing your pelvis to remain free and open, by using pillows to prop you up, or by having a lovely relaxing bath, or entering your birthing pool – which is fantastic for pain relief and a feeling of comfort and ‘support’ when tired.
Active Birth is also a mental preparation as well as physical. It can be lovely to come to classes, and to be in a positive environment, seeking out ways of relaxing and calming the mind in the lead up to birth. To learn to trust your body and acknowledge that you will instinctively know what to do when the time comes, is hugely positive.