parenting q&a

This week, Natasha Niven, midwife and birthing expert, talks birthing plans, birthing partners and post-pregnancy bellies 

Q.) Why do books tell you to write a birthing plan if hospitals never actually follow them? I’m not sure if I should bother.

A.) In my experience, I’ve found that women with extensive birth plans tend to end up slightly worse off than they imagined. That’s why my advice to ALL pregnant women is to ‘go with the flow’ and not to have any high expectations. It’s very difficult for hospitals to follow certain birth plans. This is because there is such strict criteria, meaning some women won’t be able to fulfill any aspects of her birth plan from the outset.

I most certainly advocate that you plan to create a comfortable environment as the more comfortable you feel, the more relaxed you’ll be. For example, choose a music playlist, take some belongings from home, and have your chosen birthing partner present. All of these things will most certainly contribute to a happier, homely environment, which has been proven to create more positive outcome. Pregnancy and childbirth has a mind of its own and so it’s impossible to predict what will happen. Just remember that what will be will be!


Q.) My husband is terrified of being in the room when I give birth, so I’m not sure whether to take my mum instead. What role should my birthing partner fulfil whilst I’m in labour?

A.) Your birthing partner is there to provide you with support when you need it most. Typically, they’re there to hold your hand or provide you with the encouragement you need at the final hurdle. A birthing partner should be empathetic and calming. Providing physical support is important also, whether it’s a back massage or keeping you cool with a cold face cloth. Your birthing partner is there to listen to your needs. It’s a daunting experience for them too, so remember to be kind… Unless of course they sit and eat a MacDonalds whilst you’re pushing – then you’re entitled to scream and shout all you want! (Yes, I have witnessed this unfortunately).


Q.) I’m starting to worry about my post-pregnancy body! What will my bump look like after I’ve given birth? How long will it take to go away?

A.) Your bump will reduce dramatically after you have your baby. You will notice that it’ll seem a bit wobbly to begin with, but within around 14 days your uterus should disappear into your pelvis. A wonderful benefit of breast feeding is that you’ll find your tummy becomes flatter sooner because as baby feeds it stimulates a painless, contracting motion. If you’re self-conscious of your bump then there are gentle exercises you can perform soon after baby is born to get back into pre-pregnancy shape!