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I can definitely see similarities between sport psychology and pregnancy/motherhood. During my pregnancy I took care of my body like an athlete. I listened to my body what it needed at that moment, and before giving birth I made sure all of my preparations were done, and I made time for myself to get ready for ‘my game’. I have never been that determined and confident about myself and I had trust in the people around me while giving birth. Visualizing waves of the sea helped me to deal with contractions. Although I was induced, labour went quite easy. I still believe that taking care of body and mind (I’ve worked on body awareness and coped with a lot of different emotions) helped me to facilitate labour. Once my son was born I’ve spent a lot of time alone with him. I took my time to recover while keeping calm by slow breathing so my heartrate would go down in order to connect with my baby. I can definitely say I relied on myself and was ‘in the flow’.

Pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood is a journey in life that can be both amazing and overwhelming. Often the societal narrative and expectations are set out in such a way that pain and exhaustion can seem inevitable. Carla uses her expertise to skilfully demonstrate that the way we enable our bodies and minds to work together in harmony through sport can be applied effectively to the childbearing journey by conceptualising it as a physical and emotional journey with which we have our own individual relationship, ability to plan and make our own. The extraordinary thing for me as a psychiatrist, rugby player and coach is how our skills as parents can be applied back to sport, for example, as more receptive and nurturing coaches and more effective team players.

Empowered Birth helps women to find and fully feel their natural strength. Dr Meijen helps mothers to understand that endurance is an internal resource, that exists within them, waiting to be tapped. This book is inspiring and reassuring in equal measure.

As an exercise psychologist, researcher of physical activity during the perinatal period, and an active mother myself, I am an advocate of learning from the sport and exercise field and applying the knowledge to the maternity journey. From our research we now further understand the challenges and benefits of engaging with physical activity during this time. Psychological techniques that are fine-tuned during physical activity behaviour, such as self-talk to cheer yourself on, or learning to set process goals, can benefit those who are keen to stay active throughout their pregnancy, and these can be drawn on during labour and beyond.

This is a book I wish I could have read prior to my experience of becoming a mother. As a physiologist I know little about the ways that Psychology could have helped me through these experiences. This book will provide valuable detail for those about to embark on the journey of motherhood.

As a sport and exercise psychologist, I have long been fascinated by the role the mind plays in sport. Having then applied many a mental strategy during both of my home births, I am also a huge advocate of educating parents-to-be about the role their mind can play before, during and after labour, and helping them to use it effectively. “Empowered birth” is a readable, practical book, filled with useful tips and techniques for you to discover and use throughout your labour and beyond!

Being a sport psychologist while becoming a mother has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I am confident that what I have learned and practiced in my professional role has enhanced my own journey of becoming a mother and I’m thrilled that Carla has decided to share with others the powerful lessons and skills that sport psychology can offer in this space. I know that these skills have the potential to make a very positive impact on new moms!

I whole heartedly agree with using what you know from your days as an athlete, or learning skills from the mindset of an athlete, is a good set of tools to have as you prepare for and go through labor, childbirth and during postpartum. Focusing on what is right in front of you, staying in the moment, a positive, flexible mindset, deep breathing and how to use breathing for strength and remaining calm were all skills I used during my maternity journey that I learned in my days as a competitive and professional ice skater

The positive mental attitude I learnt from competitive sports certainly helped me cope with the challenges of childbirth. Everyone can benefit from the strength, wellbeing and positive thinking honed by (endurance) sports, especially during childbirth.

Like many expectant mothers I made a birthing plan… which during labour then turned into fiction! By practicing what I preach as an applied sport psychologist I was able to maintain a sense of calm determination and enjoy the experience. This book, the first of its kind, is well worth a read in considering how to apply psychological strategies for the benefit of your own birthing experience.

As someone who is a practicing Sport Psychologist teaching mental skills to athletes every day I am disappointed I never thought to use these skills when I went on my own maternity journey to become a mum as it makes such perfect sense to do so. Dr Meijen has entwined the benefits of sport psychology beautifully with the challenges of maternity to show how we can use the strengths-based processes we use daily with athletes to make that time when women are pregnant and birthing far easier, more enjoyable and with that important feeling of being more in control.

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