Childbirth can be scary. To learn more about my labour read my previous post: What Labour is Really Like. Here are 3 things I did that really helped me prepare for labour.
1. Deal with Fears
I was feeling good about labour up until the first birth video in our prenatal class. I was initially worried about passing out just by watching something so graphic. I didn’t need to see that…I wasn’t even going to see that when I was giving birth!
The video made me more fearful of the birthing process than before I watched. This was not the intended effect. Those videos are supposed to help you to understand what to expect. After several weeks I realized that the fear was related to the woman in giving birth in the video. She kept repeating “I can’t do this. I can’t do this”.
What if I couldn’t do this?
Of course, I could do this. Millions of woman all over the world do this. It’s natural. I’m strong. My husband repeated these words of encouragement to me and assured me that I could do it. But it didn’t help. I was stuck in fear asking repeatedly “what if I can’t do this?”
During a treatment with one of my favourite energy practitioners I finally realized why. The response I needed to hear was that it was ok if I couldn’t. That it was alright if I wasn’t strong enough. I would get through it even if I felt like giving up. That my husband would still love me if the pain broke me. That I would survive if I failed and had to rely on someone else to get me through it.
I still get teary-eyed recalling this deeply embedded fear of being vulnerable in front of others, of not being strong, of being completely at the mercy of something I couldn’t control, and crumbling from the pressure. This was my worst fear.
I had to deal with this. I didn’t want to be struck by panic during labour. I didn’t want to be terrified in the months leading up to it. Talking to my husband about it really helped. What if I couldn’t do it? Our new answer became “I am strong and I know I can do it, but it’s ok if I can’t.” I had to show myself some compassion. I had to assure myself that I would not be a failure if I wasn’t strong enough to get through. My husband would still love me. I would still love me.
2. Plan my Ideal Birth
I wrote out a birth plan. This wasn’t an ordinary birth plan. I wrote out specifically how I wanted the birthing process to go: my ideal labour and delivery. I pinned this up on my dream board and stared at it every day while drying my hair for the 2 months leading up to Hailey’s arrival.
This was like an athlete visualizing a gold metal run in preparation for the race. This was the mental preparation.
Instead of focusing on everything that could go wrong I used my imagination to focus on everything I wanted. (Learn more about this in my Worry is Just Misplace Imagination post). I had 29 items on my list and 22 of them happened. Some of my items:
- 5 hours of labour (didn’t happen)
- 23 degrees and sunny (happened)
- my husband was there the entire time (happened)
- 7 lbs (she was 6lbs, 10oz – I count this as a win!)
- sense of trust with everyone who was present (happened)
- no rush (I think I get 2 points for this one!)
- water breaks naturally (didn’t happen)
- baby breastfeeds easily (happened)
This wasn’t a game of how many I could get right. It was a game to alleviate stress and to help me feel calm about the delivery. I knew everything on this list was possible. It made me feel better thinking about these things rather than worrying about everything that could go wrong.
3. Work on Control Issues
This baby was going to come out one way or the other and I had no control over how it would happen. I could plan all I wanted but I had to be ok if the plan didn’t work out. I even put that on the bottom of my birth plan – that it would be ok if I got none of what I hoped for.
I had to be flexible. If I wasn’t meant to have a natural birth or a home birth then I had to be ok with that. The last thing I wanted was to be panicky in the middle of labour if I needed to go to the hospital.
I listened to an audio by Dr. M.T. Morter Jr. on pregnancy and childbirth. He matter-of-factly discusses the infinite intelligence that is at work creating a little baby. The pregnant mother isn’t creating the baby. She doesn’t know the best time to create the circulatory system, or when the brain needs to be formed. She isn’t making this baby. There is divine intervention here and the mom is just along for the ride.
I extrapolated this point of view to the actual birthing process. I needed to trust that my baby knew how to come out. If I needed a c-section or other medical intervention then I needed to have faith that both my baby and I were meant to go through that. I needed to believe that if the birth didn’t go according to plan it was going according to a greater plan.
One of the best pieces of advice that was given to me by several people in the months leading up to the birth was that when it came time, I just needed to relax into it. That’s exactly what I did. As I was delivering my baby, I had to relax, give up control and trust that it would all be ok. I had to have complete faith that my body knew what it was doing, that my baby knew what she was doing, that regardless of what happened I would be ok.
I had to give up.
You get to chose which elements of childbirth you want to focus on. I chose to focus on positive aspects that made me feel happy. I chose to face my fears in advance. The months leading up to Hailey’s arrival were emotional but they helped prepare me for the labour itself and for what came next.