A fairly new approach to antenatal preparation involves supporting mothers and their partners to explore their beliefs about pain during childbirth. Women have learnt to think that being in labour is a very painful experience, even if they have never been in labour before. This belief is a misconception entrenched in our society, enhanced through multimedia exposure and wrongly promoted by healthcare professionals. For the majority of expectant mothers, pain should not be an issue because giving birth is a natural process for the female body.
From a physiological perspective, the uterus comprises of muscles which function in the same way as the other muscles in our bodies. Why then, should labour be viewed as being so painful? Well, that is because for the majority of mums, labour is experienced as painful because it is expected to be. This point is reinforced through the multiple interactions expectant mums have with others in their daily lives.
Quality antenatal preparation, involving both physiological AND psychological education, is required to support expectant mums and their partners to experience a calm and comfortable birthing experience. Learning to understand how their bodies physically function when preparing to give birth and at the same time remaining calm and understanding the importance of using relaxation throughout their pregnancy and during the birthing process all contribute to a more comfortable birthing experience for both mum and dad.
The quality of antenatal preparation impacts on the ability of both parents to continue the bonding process after the birth. This outcome means that parents are more likely to develop greater levels of sensitivity towards their new baby sooner.