The conversation around childbirth

Milli Hill discusses the messages that we hear about childbirth and how these affect women.

Pregnancy news, 23/03/17

In a recent article in the Telegraph, Milli Hill discusses the messages that we hear about childbirth and the impact these have on women.

Milli, who is the founder of the Positive Birth Movement, says, ‘Most pregnant women are very scared of labour. But by putting all the focus on how painful it is, are we failing to give them the full picture? And in doing so, could we actually be making labour worse?’

In her article, Milli explains that she wanted to reconsider the idea that giving birth is non-stop agony.

‘Quite the opposite,’ she explains. ‘Many mums I’ve spoken to – in the time between contractions often feel incredibly strong, excited, or even euphoric.’

Milli continues, ‘I was curious. How much time in labour do we spend in pain, compared to the time between contractions? I did the maths, and the results were surprising. In an average eight hour labour, a woman can expect to be ‘in pain’ for only around 23 per cent of the time. The other 77 per cent is ‘pain free’.’

Our midwife Anna agrees, saying, 'When supporting women in labour so that they feel safe, women often slow their breathing, have a sip of water, continue with a trail of conversation or even doze between contractions.'

Anna explains,

'We would never want to discourage women to have access to a safe space to de-brief and find support following a traumatic birthing experience. Labour and giving birth is a totally unique experience for every woman and her birthing partner, therefore we want women to know their options and not to feel under any pressure to ensure that this goes in a certain way. When preparing for childbirth, pain relief is only one element to this and does not need to be the focus. We would encourage women to keep an open mind and do what they feel is right for them at the time as labour unfolds.'

We recommend reading about the 5 positive ways to prepare for labour, attend antenatal classes and think about having a ‘birth wish list’ rather than a birth plan. Have a chat with your midwife too to discuss your thoughts and feelings. These all contribute to building your own ‘birth tool kit’ which will enable you to go into labour feeling strong in mind, and confident in your body’s abilities.

More on pregnancy in the news

  • Family featured in Channel 4's documentary sitting on sofa smiling at the camera


    Postpartum psychosis documentary on Channel 4

    Some of you may have watched the new documentary from Channel 4 air on Tuesday night as part of it’s ‘Losing it: Our Mental Health Emergency’ series. The documentary followed a family in Nottingham who experienced postpartum psychosis, a rare but a very serious illness that is often unpredictable.

  • Bushfire smoke in Australia with women holding a mask over her face.


    How are the Australian bushfires affecting pregnant women?

    The recent fires in Australia are known to have had a huge effect on animal and human inhabitants. We’ve looked at the health risks they pose during pregnancy, and how to minimise them.

  • Due - anuary, Just found out you're pregnant?


    Just found out you’re pregnant?…apparently lots of people do in 'Due-anuary'

    ‘Due’anuary is a month when lots of people seem to find out they are pregnant, so much so that 17th January has been labelled ‘Discovery Day’! Read more about why this is, and what the most common months are for giving birth.

  • Illustration of woman suffering from PTSD


    Pregnancy after loss and coping with PTSD

    PTSD is being talked about a lot in the media today. It’s important to recognise that PTSD can affect anyone. If you’ve been through a traumatic birth or if you have experienced baby loss in a previous pregnancy through miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death, you may be more likely to experience PTSD.

    Was this information useful?

    Yes No


    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Mar 2017 - 09:05

      Hi there, if you have missed a menstrual period, the best and only way to establish if you are pregnant or not, is to do a urine pregnancy test at home or at your GP surgery.
      Having stomach pain, a head ache and finding it hard to sleep are not obviously signs of a pregnancy. Take care of yourself.

    • By Stephanie (not verified) on 25 Mar 2017 - 02:05

      How u no wen u pregant with out doing a test because my belly pain me and my head and easy to sleep and tired

    Add new comment