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it. of a It's a labour of love; childbirth is painful, BUT SOME WOMEN ACTUALLY ENJOY IT LISA SALMON REPORTS.

IVING birth may be gruelling and painful, but, believe it or not, many women love it.

GResearch suggests more than two thirds (67%) of mothers think giving birth is a 'positive experience', and a quarter even 'love' being in labour.

Overall, the research by the Positive Birth Movement and video parenting site Channel Mum, showed a quarter of mums felt giving birth was much easier than expected, compared to just 20% who found it harder than they were prepared for.

WELL-KEPT SECRET MILLI HILL, birth expert and founder of the Positive Birth Movement, a global network of women's groups that spreads positivity about childbirth, says: "The fact that giving birth can be a brilliantly enjoyable experience is a well-kept secret that is finally getting out.

"Women are getting back in touch with the message that having a baby, rather than being something to fear, can actually be one of the most empowering and vital days of your life."

And Jacque Gerrard, Royal College of Midwives director for England, doesn't think it's surprising that so many women love being in labour.

"Women have been preparing themselves both physically and emotionally for nine months, and this is the point in the pregnancy when they're going to meet their baby," she says.

"So when they go into labour, the excitement starts to build - they know it's the means to the end of the whole pregnancy.

"Some women surprise themselves at how wonderful they are at coping during the birth, and how wonderful their bodies are. For some women it's not as bad as they expect - why do they keep having more babies if labour's so terrible?" BIRTH PLANS THE excitement around giving birth means 36% of mums plan the type of birth they want even before becoming pregnant, and the study of 2,209 mums found the most desired birth is a hospital water birth (34%), followed by normal delivery in hospital (33%), home water birth (15%) and normal home birth (12%).

But just 40% of mums actually get the birth they want, with 60% of births not going to plan. Instead, the most common type of birth for the mums surveyed was a natural delivery in hospital (32%) followed by emergency C-section (17%). And only 8% of mums surveyed managed to have a water birth in hospital.

Jacque says: "Midwives are getting more and more involved with helping women plan births, and helping them understand that sometimes things don't go quite to the birth plan, and to be prepared for that and certainly not to be disappointed.

"If women plan not to have drugs or an epidural, for example, and then end up having them, it's absolutely fine because it's about having a better birth experience."

TOUGH PUSH THE research found mums' favourite part of giving birth is just as the baby is being born, preferred by 41% of women, followed by 27% who said the moment they went into labour was the most enjoyable part.

The least liked time is pushing, with 38% of mums finding it tough, along with a third (31%) who found the early hours of being in labour hardest.

"By the time they're at the second stage of labour, many women are pretty tired and they have to find additional energy to push," says Jacque.

"They really want to meet their baby, but they're so exhausted. Pushing is a really tough part."

SHARING STORIES BUT however tough the birth is, nearly all (94%) modern mums go on to share their birth stories. A quarter of mothers post their story on social media, one in five at a support group and 7% even make a video or post their experiences on parenting sites.

The most common reason was that they wanted to 'be honest' about birth (61%), with half (48%) wanting other mums to know giving birth can be positive and a third (33%) wanted to show you can get over a tough birth.

"All women love to share birth stories, and midwives love to hear them," says Jacque.

"If other women are planning a family or are pregnant, the stories can really encourage and support them."

But sharing birth stories really does seem to be just a mum thing, even though fathers are often present at the births. While 96% of mums want to hear birth stories from dads, only 53% know of a dad who's shared his story - and just two in five said their partner shared his own story with other fathers.

Jacque says: "I don't understand why dads don't tell birth stories, because they're absolutely fantastic when they're supporting their partners in labour. It's a shame they don't talk about it more."

CAPTION(S):

Everyone has always shared tales of their cute newborns, but more and more women are sharing the whole experience of pregnancy, labour and childbirth
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 13, 2016
Words:804
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