1. Get your support system in place
2. Be prepared
3. Bring items to help relax you
4. Allow the birthing to happen, don’t fight it
5. Visualize a good experience, look forward towards a positive outcome
Some things happen regularly. The sun rises and sets daily, and there’s usually a really good team that wins the Super Bowl. In this digital age where there is so much knowledge out there, I see parents inundated with information, and questioning themselves; so much that they begin to question everything they do in the realm of parenting. Because of this, I’ll name two other givens I know: babies are born every day. AND our bodies already know how to deliver a baby. Sure there are amazing doctors and resources out and lots of classes to take, things to learn, experts to listen to and books to read, but women’s bodies were designed to carry and deliver babies. Babies were delivered at home and out in nature for thousands of years before doctors, technology and hospitals were created. This is what we do. This is our jam!
I can offer tips but what I really want to do is empower you. I want to say: trust your instincts and what you need. Your experience will be different than others because you and your baby are unique. You know your body and your baby better than anyone. There are a few tips listed here, but at the end of the day, you will be the one to decide what works for you and what you and your baby truly need. I’m only really here to support your process.
When looking back on my first pregnancy, I can say that as organized as I was, I didn’t expect to have so many emotions about the labor and delivery. On the day of the delivery of my first born, I was surrounded by people. It was nice, we were all together getting ready. There was a rhythm and smooth flow of events. We had just checked in, things were on track. And then everyone left the room. I had just gotten into my gown, had my first few contractions, my husband ran down to park the car, the nurses went to check on other patients and suddenly I was all alone in a hospital room. Of course, at this moment, from the down the hall this woman started screaming. You could hear her through the entire floor she was so loud. And it was bloody murder screaming. The nurse came into my room, saw the look on my face and immediately said “that woman is fighting her labor and delivery, she doesn’t’ want to be here”.
Too late! As logical as that sounded, her screaming terrified me. Even being “prepared”, I was genuinely scared. I second-guessed myself, perhaps I had no idea what I was really getting myself into. I was afraid of the pain. I was afraid of something unexpected happening. I was afraid of something being wrong with the baby. I was afraid I would end up screaming like her. There seemed to be so many unknowns.
And then something shifted. The contractions started and I went into a totally different mindset. I went into performance mode and started blocking things out, like noise. Looking back, it was because I prepared myself for the actual process I was frightened about. My husband and I had spent time in advance working together to address my fears. We had dialogued about it, I journaled about it, and I discussed it with my doctor, and talked with other expecting moms. Then we took a birthing class and I bought a few books to prepare myself for bringing home a baby. I was prepared as I could be, and it helped a lot when the time came.
We had invited a support system into the room with us, including my mother, which grounded me; things to help, like an overnight bag and a camera. And I brought visualization exercises, which I printed out and used during the delivery. The screaming down the hall eventually subsided, everyone was back in action in the room and suddenly I felt ready to perform. I turned my focus to the delivery and contractions, breathing and visualizing. I kept reminding myself about the beautiful baby waiting to arrive during the long hours of labor. I knew why I was there, I knew there was a baby counting on me, and I knew what I had to do and that became all of my focus. The fear was gone.
Out of all the “things” we brought, the visualization list was the biggest resource for me to get into the right mindset for delivery. It was concrete information I could use in the moment as I was going through the labor pains.
I practiced during the last trimester, finding phrases that applied to that phase of the pregnancy, like “this part of the pregnancy will be smooth and uneventful”. When in the delivery room, I used phrases as mantras and sometimes pictured images with them. Some were simple like: “I can do this” to more specific like: “the labor will be easy and effortless”.
Breath into the contraction and say “I can manage this pain” (you can picture in your mind/imagine a lotus flower gently opening during each contraction)
“I invite this child into the world and embrace my labor and delivery” (I pictured the baby’s head coming down the birth canal)
“I invite you (name of child) to join us and come into the world!” (I imagined my husband and I holding our baby)
Here are three websites that offer visualization tools:
Labor and delivery breathing bxercises & visualization on Beaumont.edu
Visualizing childbirth on NaturalBirthandBabyCare.com
5 Prenatal Meditation Techniques on FitPregnancy.com
I was not the screaming woman you could hear down the hall. Turns out it wasn’t half as traumatic as I thought it would be, nor as painful as I imagined. Even after 17 hours in labor, I delivered a beautiful 10lb, 6oz baby boy and could not have been happier. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Women have been doing this for thousands of years. Your body and your baby know what to do. Embrace your body’s wisdom and trust the process. You’ve got this! I can offer all sorts of tips but the real question is: What do you need to get yourself in the right frame of mind for labor and delivery?
Resources for Labor and Delivery
Fav Book and Website
My favorite book and website on pregnancy and labor is What To Expect.
Labor and Delivery Info From the Experts
WhattoExpect.com has a great section of resources specifically about Labor and Delivery.
Reducing Labor Pain
There is a great article from VeryWell.com about how Using Different Positions Helps Labor Pain.
Dr. Weil is well known and has some great thoughts and exercises.
Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breath demonstration video.
Check out Shakti Gawain for creative visualization exercises and more about her books and cd’s (She has a great meditation cd I use regularly :^)
Louise Hay from Hay House Publishing also has some great affirmation cards.
Parenting.com is a great resource for general parenting info.
Read More of the June New Parent Series!
This is Part 2 of a four-part series for new parents.