Less than a quarter mile from my house lives a first-time mom whom I have gotten to know over the past year. One afternoon, at week 37 of her pregnancy, I sat down with my friend and asked how she was feeling about the imminent birth of her son. She responded, “I wish there was one resource that had everything about giving birth.”
As much as I wanted to hand her something magical that holds all the answers for how her birth is going to be experienced (which doesn’t exist and probably for a good reason), instead we talked about birth and I gave the pieces of advice that helped me each time I have given birth.
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Giving birth can be one of the most powerful moments in a woman’s life. It can also be one of the hardest. With a dichotomy of emotions happening at the same time — pain and joy, good anxiety and fearful anxiety — giving birth can be one of the most sacred moments in our life. Most of what I learned about giving birth came from an array of sources, educational and anecdotal. When it came down to the actual birth, what I had learned went out the window.
Get the Right Mindset
Our brain is the most complex organ of the human body, and our mind is the most powerful source of the human soul. The conversations we have with ourselves, the questions we ask ourselves, our brains remember and seek to find the answers. Our thoughts produce our feelings, and our feelings create our reality.
So when we have fearful thoughts of a painful birth, our brain will follow the path of least resistance and trick us into believing that will be our experience. However, when we surround ourselves with empowering thoughts that our bodies were made to create, carry and birth a baby, our whole experience can change into something beautiful.
No two births are the same, which means despite everything you have heard, seen or read, your birth story is uniquely yours and your little one. The only constant is you and how you choose to show up for yourself at the birth.
Therefore, build your birth team with those who will bring out the best of you. From your people (doctor, midwives, doulas, and family) to your place of birth (hospital, birth centers, home) make sure you feel encouraged and confident every step of the way.
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Birth. One little word that represents so much on so many levels. There’s an emotional side of birth, perhaps it recalls a more difficult time in our life journey. There’s a physical side of birth. The subtle reminders on your body that there was once a life growing inside of you. There’s also a mental side of birth. If a moment comes when you feel like you can’t, don’t listen to that lie. Get out of your head because you absolutely CAN.
The Power of Research
In today’s world, we have unlimited resources at our fingertips. Just search the keyword you are looking for and before you blink, hours will have gone by as you stumbled through the variety of results.
When you’re searching for anything, but particularly something as life changing as childbirth, look to validate your sources. Is this credible research or opinions from someone? When was the article written and have things changed since? Your resources can expand beyond the screen in front of you. Look for local birth classes if you want something more hands on. Ask any questions you might have. Listen to podcasts while you nest around the house getting ready for the baby. My personal favorite decision was hiring a doula. A doula can share with you invaluable knowledge about birth tailored to your comfort and values.
My doula was with me during each of my two births. The first birth, I remember her sitting on the bedside asking me what I was most afraid of. It was the pain. She shared that the pain wouldn’t last forever and assured me that there were interventions we could use if the pain started to get the better of me. This birth was different in that we knew my baby had a fatal kidney disease and would not survive outside the womb very long. My doula guided me through a birth that would change us all forever.
For my second birth, my doula was right there with me once again. The labor was intensifying when she calmly but firmly gave me the best piece of advice: Get out of your own head. She was right, I was focusing too much on the pain so I shifted my mindset to embrace the uncomfortableness. During the final stage of labor, I remember my doula leaning over the bedside, placing her hand on me and asking if I was okay. Confused, I responded that I was feeling fine. She said she had never seen someone in the push stage with such a calm demeanor.
My heart rate stayed low, my mind focused on trusting that my body knew exactly what needed to happen to bring my baby onto this side of the womb. My healthy baby, my second son, was born moments after, without any interventions, all natural.
When looking back, the whole birth experience just might become one of your favorite memories. But when you’re in it, it just might be one of the most stressful things you’ve done. Lean into the pain, trust your body, and believe in yourself.
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I wish I could sit down with all the pregnant mothers and have a conversation about birth. To be with you when you need it the most. To hold your hand and tell you I understand. Whether you leave holding your baby in your hands or in your heart, I understand. To remind you that the pain, whether physical or emotional, isn’t intense forever. I wish I could sit down and tell you: you were made to do hard things because you are strong. Now let’s give birth!
Be safe. Be kind. Be you.