Like many others, I have been spending time in quiet reflection while watching the news, observing the events as they unfold in front of me. I am particularly interested in how we cope with the various setbacks and the impact that this has on our mental health.

The big family celebrations – 21st birthday’s, graduations, engagements, baby showers, weddings – all postponed. The family holiday (a big focus in my annual calendar) and getting together as a group with friends are no more.

What has also dawned on me is the amount of money we spend on these events, often without thinking about it. It certainly all adds up. The value we place on the big life events and the desire to control every little detail. The right venue for the wedding, the best photographer to capture the event. The party for the young graduate or the best hotel restaurant booked for the happy couple’s engagement. It’s a ‘Right Of Passage’ after all.

It seems that we have a ‘Holiday Budget’, a ‘Wedding Budget’ and even a ‘Baby Budget’ but does it include the money spent on antenatal education?

As a doula, I love seeing birthing couples blossom with confidence once they have been educated in the physiology of birth and the mental preparation for the event. This education offers the birthing parent options at every fork in the road, the freedom to make positive decisions and support with the options taken whilst deciding what’s best for them. Having someone walking alongside them on their journey can be so powerful and life-affirming.

Talking about positive birth and the self-confidence that having a good experience can bring is so important. Regardless of how you have your baby, whether it be caesarean section birth, a birth with intervention or physiological birth at home, there are many factors that add up to creating a positive birth. How you feel about the way you were treated and spoken to, whether you were included in the decision-making, treated with respect and your partner included in the process. Some of these aspects may not have crossed your mind.

It’s something I’d like you to think about it for a moment.

There are lots of classes that you can attend, in person and online and there are a plethora of books you can read. I can recommend my favourites but my point is that these books are MY favourite and they may not resonate with your point of view. The antenatal teachers all have a slightly different slant and emphasis and it’s important you find the one for you. There are podcasts and audiobooks so you can listen and absorb the information as you walk in nature or catch up on the news. My advice is to find a voice that resonates and immerse yourself in the key messages that your teacher brings.

It may be a different course or book that your friends are following but that’s fine. we’re all very different. Perhaps you can think of it as good practice for parenting in the early years. Your friends may differ greatly in their opinions and you find yourself either defending your position or sitting quietly nodding whilst absorbing the subtle messages. Keep the faith in your abilities as a parent – you are doing your best and that’s good enough.

So what is my take-home message today? It’s a simple one today. Prepare a budget for your baby and include good-quality antenatal education in that budget. Find a teacher who resonates with your ethos and values and immerse yourself with positive messages about how birth and the early days work. That way you can make decisions based on evidence and your intuition when the time comes. A big family party or a fun baby shower will bring happiness for a period of time in your life but the birth of your baby is in a different league. Let’s do what we can to create the best birth possible, one you can look back on with pride and joy and a brimful of confidence about just how amazing you are.

If I can help you to find the right antenatal education for you, or you’d like to hear about our bespoke antenatal packages at St. Albans Doulas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can find us on stalbansdoulas@gmail.com and Liz: 07794351958.