Something that I haven’t experienced is having a baby whilst living as an expat. It’s the thought of being a terribly sick pregnant lady, coupled with the idea of not having my parents on standby that fills be with dread. Add to that the reality of being pregnant in Singapore with it’s non-stop sticky Summer in the city vibe, and well, my ankles balloon at just the thought of it. Pregnant ladies of Singapore I take my hat off to you.
Having a baby is such a crazy time – I know a little about this having done it twice, in quick succession, with neither time being planned – that it’s more important than ever for expat mama’s to have a strong support system in place. So I’m incredibly grateful to the wonderfully experienced Karen Wilmot, aka The Virtual Midwife, who offers up some great advice about how mama’s-to-be can plan the birth they want, no matter where they are in the world.
“Giving Birth abroad is a scary thought for most Mums. Hands up if your first thought was to hop on a plane when you found out you were pregnant? Being far from home and family during pregnancy can be lonely and just a little bit scary. I know because I am a serial expat myself and I have been working with expats expecting for the last 20 years. You have your own special set of needs and concerns. I am here to help you navigate them all…”
– Karen Wilmot, The Virtual Midwife
The concept of control in birth is becoming more and more relevant in the present highly medicalised system. We are accustomed to handing over control to our doctors and to the hospital with the (often misguided) notion that they will make the best decision for us. Hearing comments like “they won’t let me” or “it’s not allowed” is becoming more and more common.
Now, more than ever it is important to take responsibility for your health and for your birth. But what does that actually mean, and what does it have to do with control?
Who (if anyone) Is In Control Throughout The Birth Process?
Birth is personal. You are the only one who can give birth to your baby. Sure, you will be in the hospital, under the care of your chosen doctor and the staff midwife and nurses, but you will be the one who is experiencing labor and who has the ultimate control over what is happening.
You cannot change the hospital system, or the fact you are living on a different continent to your family, or the language and culture of your host country – but you can change your response to these circumstances. You can learn about the hospital system so you can work with it (rather than against it). You can use technology to stay in touch with your family and see it as an adventure and a challenge. You can learn more about the language and culture of your host country or at least make sure that you have a translator with you when you go for doctors appointments, routine tests and scans.
How Much Control Can You Maintain?
Having a baby is a life experience. Not a medical event. You are in charge of how it will unfold. And it all starts in the mind. Your thoughts, your beliefs, your behaviour. You control how you experience the intensity of the birth experience.
If you believe that a positive birth experience is possible, then make it happen. Shift your perspective on the external factors and examine your internal influences and resources. Everything you think, say, and do needs to become intentional and aligned with your desire to have a healthy pregnancy and safe and satisfying birth experience.
It is up to you to change the way you respond to the events and circumstances you are faced with to get the outcomes that you want. But you have control over all of these things. You CAN change them.
Is Letting Go A Necessary Part Of The Process?
Yes, absolutely. There are certain things that are out of our control. Things like the position of the baby, how long labor may take and certain situations that may arise necessitating a change of plan. Let go of what you cannot control. Hold on to what you can. You can control your attitude, your ability to be flexible in the face of unexpected circumstances and staying connected to your baby, your body and the process of giving birth. You may need to change your way of thinking, the words you use when you are communicating ideas, change your thoughts, your behaviour and the pictures you hold in your mind.
How Is The Birth Experience Affected By Our Attitudes Toward Authority And Autonomy?
Quite simply put, if you want to enjoy your pregnancy and co-create a positive and memorable birth experience, you first have to address the world within. The external conditions you’re confronted with (living in a strange land with different language, culture and customs) will seldom change, if you do not change the internal.
The power of the mind is largely dependent on your thoughts. The old cliche “what you think you become” holds true even in the context of pregnancy and birth. It’s abit like what Henry Ford once said “whether you think you can or can’t you will be right”.
To learn more about Karen and how she can support you through pregnancy and birth please pop by The Virtual Midwife website. And don’t forget to like The Virtual Midwife on Facebook! Karen is currently offering expat mama’s a free guide on how to give birth beautifully without hopping on a plane home. Just sign up via The Virtual Midwife website!
Please note this post is sponsored by The Virtual Midwife. The Expat Mama will not be held responsible for any errors. Please refer to The Expat Mama’s Terms + Conditions for more information.