My basic thoughts on labor
- Labor is hard.
- Labor is easier if you have practice being in the moment.
- Labor is hardly ever what you expect, so the ability to respond spontaneously is important.
My basic suggestions for Childbirth Education and Labor Preparation
- Have a provider that you trust and can communicate with
- Work with a provider and facility that have good birth statistics for your particular situation
- If you are planning a hospital birth, hire a doula that you are comfortable with
- Exercise every day
- Practice Mindfulness every day
- Practice spontaneity every day (yes, I recognize that this is an oxymoron)
Yep. That’s it. Easy, right?
Yes. And no. Those suggestions are all theoretically easy but many of us run into roadblocks accomplishing them. For the first three suggestions, I am going to defer to Evidence Based Birth. Rebecca Decker, PhD does a wonderful job of relaying evidence on birth related information including type of providers, doulas, and various procedures. Now let’s dive in those last three…
Hot, sweaty and out of breath every day. It doesn’t have to be an exercise class. You don’t have to do it for a solid hour. It doesn’t even have to involve special clothes or shoes. Just get hot, sweaty and out of breath. It is that easy. Like the Nike slogan -just do it! And trust me, for most pregnant women, it doesn’t take long to get hot, sweaty and out of breath -you are already doing a lot of work just being alive and creating a new human. Take the stairs at work. Slip off your shoes and dance to a couple of Beyonce tracks. Take the dog for a walk. And of course, go to the gym, track or yoga class if you like. Or mow the grass!
Mindfulness is simply practicing being in the moment. It is that simple.
Notice your body – where you are located in space right now? Start with feeling the parts of your body that are pressing into things (your feet on the floor? your bum on the chair? your forearms resting on the desk?). Then notice the rest of your body, just at the skin level. (I am sitting in bed, legs stretched out in front of me, bottom pressing into the bed, my mid and upper back against the pillow, my wrists on the typing desk, my hair brushing my shoulders, my lips pressing gently together…).
Now notice the sensation of breathing. Just notice how it feels to breath right now. (If your mind starts chattering about how you should breathe one way in and another out, or that you should breathe with your belly, or… just thank your mind for the suggestions, and let those thoughts float away, and get back to just noticing.)
Notice the moment. That is it. Just being here. Now. Breathing. (When you start making grocery lists, or worrying about labor, or debating baby names, just repeat the process -notice your body, notice your breath, notice the moment).
This process allows your nervous system to settle, then your muscles can soften a little, your heartbeat can regulate and slow a bit, and you can relax a bit, right here, right now. Nice.
- Notice your body
- Notice your breath
- Notice the moment
Do it everyday. Your body and your baby will thank you.
Now matter how well you research, decide, and plan, labor is unpredictable. You just never know how it is going to go until you are there. Truth. You may have had three prior labors that were all pretty much the same, and this one could be very different. Even scheduled Cesarian Sections don’t always happen as planned. So the elaborate Birth Plan you worked so hard to write out? Well… labor is unpredictable. Get good at responding spontaneously.
At it’s best, labor is primal. It happens when it happens, The process unfolds in its own time. Labor is the process of a body (that has been a two-in-one for almost a year), giving birth to two new beings, a mother and babe. (Or three in the case of twins, or four in the case of triplets…). Labor is physical, sweaty, primal stuff. Until you are in the thick of labor, you have no idea how important it is to move from one position to another, or to have have a cold cloth on your head, or to get into a tub of warm water.
Spontaneity is the ability to respond primally to the unpredictable. It is a perfect tool for labor. In our current lives, few of us have much spontaneity. To be comfortably spontaneous, to response primally, in the moment, we need practice. Yes, practicing spontaneity is an oxymoron, but it is important. You can put yourself in positions where you can practice spontaneity -playing with a two year old, singing in the shower, making love with your partner, tickling your puppy, cooking without a recipe… Please, make time every day to respond spontaneously to something around you, even if it is as simple as licking the last drop of ice cream from your bowl.
So to recap:
Exercise every day
Practice Mindfulness every day
Practice spontaneity every day
Labor is hard.
Labor is easier if you have practice being in the moment.
Labor is hardly ever what you expect, so the ability to respond spontaneously is important.
And after labor, then you get a baby.
Parenting is hard.
Parenting is easier if you have practice being in the moment.
Parenting is hardly ever what you expect, so the ability to respond spontaneously is important.
And, believe it or not, there is actually life before, during, after, and even without babies.
Life is hard.
Life is easier if you have practice being in the moment.
Life is hardly ever what you expect, so the ability to respond spontaneously is important.
May all babies be born into loving hands