• Rachel Smith

Birth for control freaks

Updated: Jun 10, 2019

When I start working with women in pregnancy I always begin our session by finding out what they want and what they don’t want from their birth. Very often I hear, “I want to be in control and to know how the birth is going to be, but I know I can’t do that… but I’m a bit of a control freak and I really wish I could.”

Yes, it is true that there are many aspects of your birth that you can’t control. We can never truly know what route our births will take until the day. And that may seem like a terrifying prospect if you are someone who always likes to be in control, or always like to plan ahead.

But… it will be ok…

Let’s get a little perspective on the things you can control, and how you can plan for your best possible birth amongst all the unknowns.


You are always in control of your breathing. Remember this! Take some nice slow deep breaths. Focussing on your breathing will help you regain control of any situation. Plus slow deep breaths help release oxytocin, which calms you down and helps your labour progress. Win, win.


You are in control of your state of mind. You might not always feel like you are, but you are. You can choose to allow people to burst your bubble, you can choose to feel anxious, or you can choose to stay calm and focussed. Easier said than done but hypnobirthing really, really helps with this! And so does having a supportive birth partner.

Staying calm and focussed makes such a difference to your experience of birth. Physically everything works more efficiently and more comfortably, and emotionally you are more likely to reflect on your birth as a positive experience.

Learn hypnobirthing techniques and get your birth partner on board, then your state of mind is another thing you can stay in control of.

Empower your birth partner

Speaking of birth partners, this is another choice you have and something you can control. (With the exception of rare circumstances when your chosen partner can’t guarantee they will be there – in which case, stay in control by choosing a backup!)

Pick the person who makes you feel safe and at ease, someone who knows what makes you tick and knows best how to comfort you. This is often the baby’s father, or it may be your mum, sister or friend.

Whoever you choose, make sure you prepare for your birth WITH them involved. Take your birth partner to antenatal classes with you and make sure they know your birth plan preferences. I always encourage birth partners to come along to my hypnobirthing courses, and they always leave with a ‘to do list’! We spend time making sure the birth partners feel confident and know how to take control of different situations that may arise.

Empower your birth partner to speak on your behalf during labour. Trust in them. You are still in control, but delegate some responsibility knowing this person has got your back.


You can plan for your ideal place of birth, be that a hospital, birth centre or home birth – but if things take an unexpected route, rest assured that you can still create the environment you want.

In any setting you can control the lighting, play music of your choice, ask for calm and quiet in the room, even use aromatherapy oils if you wish.

My own personal experience was that I had hoped to use the birth centre but ended up having my baby on the labour ward. I was still able to use a birth pool, my husband dimmed the lights and played our calm music and hypnobirthing relaxations. He told the midwife I was hypnobirthing and asked for the atmosphere in the room to be kept calm.

I had been so disappointed when I first realised I wasn’t going to be in the birth centre, but actually it didn’t matter at all. I just remember the soft lighting, the music, my husband’s gentle whisper, him stroking and splashing my back – and staring at the floor directly in front of me. The rest of the room was pretty insignificant!

Think about the aspects of the environment that you would like to create and how you can recreate that anywhere.

Prepare for change

You can create different birth plans for different scenarios. Perhaps you are hoping for a home birth, but you have a separate plan in the event you transfer to hospital? It’s a good idea to consider what you might like in different scenarios, although I always encourage women to focus on the positives and visualise their ideal birth. Don’t dwell on the alternatives, just have a back-up plan there in case things may change.


Remember you always have choices in any given scenario. You ALWAYS have the right to refuse any treatment or procedure. You may agree with what the care team are suggesting if it is in the best interest of you and your baby, or you could ask what alternatives there are first.

Knowing that you considered your options and knowing that you chose x, y, z will massively help you when reflecting on your birth in a positive way. It should never be a case of, “they made me do this, I didn’t have a choice”. Think more, “it wasn’t the birth I had imagined, but we made some changes for the health of our baby and we absolutely made the right decision. It was the best possible birth for us.”


Even for control freaks, we can’t plan for every possible scenario. Plan as much as you can but remember to listen to your gut. You might come across a scenario you hadn’t thought of - what does your instinct tell you to do? Or things might be going to ‘plan’ but you just feel like you want to do something different. Listen to your body. Listen to your baby. It is actually Baby’s birth after all.

Hi, I'm Rachel -The Calm Birthsmith. I'm a mum to one, hypnobirthing teacher and baby massage instructor covering London and Surrey. Thanks for reading this far! If you like what you see, come and follow me on Instagram and Facebook or sign up to be notified of new blog posts.

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