We all know that childbirth can be a lot of things. Women experience it in a variety of ways. Ideally, we would all love to embrace the journey and come out on the other end triumphant and empowered by the thrill we just experienced. But just HOW does one power through the intensity of labor, with the grace of a gazelle and the strength of a lion??
Here are 7 tips to help you discover ways of surrendering to the tidal waves of labor and birth.
1.) Address anxiety
Everyone knows that anxiety can render someone in an emotionally catatonic state. During pregnancy, it can dramatically escalate. So find ways to understand where your anxiety derives and how to keep it at bay, even if it's just for the time being until you have a baby. There are many great resources out there for you to explore: counseling, support groups, Byron Katie YouTube talks, meditation, visualization, etc. Remember, anxiety is fear about the future and depression is fear about the past. The happy medium is right in the present moment. That's where you will find your answers within, in stillness.
2.) Root into affirmations and truth
Hypnobirthing is a common birthing method that includes birth affirmations. Customize them to make them yours. Write them on note cards and recite them every day until the big day. And then you can tape them around your laboring room for inspiration when you need it most. This will enhance the truth you find and know inside. Rooting into something positive and encouraging can be just what your mind, heart, and body needs to come out of labor and birth in a joyous way.
3.) Address fear
Oftentimes fear plays a big part in childbirth. What we must understand is that even though fear will never go away, we do have a choice of how much of it will play out in our lives. It will always be a battle to our dying day of choosing love or fear.
Have you ever had a conversation with fear? I do this exercise with clients who have a lot of anxiety. I will ask them to write a letter to fear and it helps in those stressful times. A letter may go something like this:
I know that we have had a long relationship with each other. Thank you for being there to keep me safe at times. I have appreciated your comments, whether they were true or not, and you have served a purpose in my life. However, during this special time in my life, you don't get to run the show. You may stay outside of my space for the time being and look from afar but you are NOT allowed to be part of this labor and birth. This is a joyous part of my life and I am looking forward to all of the love and surrendering I will be doing. You will not be needed at this time.
4.) Examine thoughts
Thoughts play tricky mind games on us. Fear lets us think many crazy things. Believe it or not, but those thoughts are NOT YOU. You are not your thoughts! We create suffering when we attach to our thoughts as if they were truth. But you get to decide what is truth because you have a beautiful choice with every thought.
When thoughts of failure come in, know that this is coming from a part of you that wants to sabotage your efforts. Think of them like voices from a bad little angel on your shoulder. Tell him "thank you for your comment", flick him off and start listening to the "good angel". Call her the Holy Spirit, intuition, your conscience, whatever she is to you. Any thoughts that are true, noble, right, pure of heart, and trustworthy are the ones to follow. TRUST that they will lead you where you need to go in labor.
This, my dearest, is mindfulness. And remember, practice makes perfect.
The voice you listen to most will win!!
5.) Address intimacy/vulnerability
Let's face it, birth is probably the most vulnerable time you will ever have in your life. Your body and heart are displayed out there for all to see. If you struggle with intimacy and vulnerability, as most of us do, I urge you to check out Brene Brown on YouTube or through her books. They contain an oasis of knowledge and truth for you to discover. I would love to expound upon vulnerability in a later blog because it deserves its own space. It is a wellspring to healing and extraordinary breakthroughs!
6.) Root into what creates peace
Prepare for birth by creating a spa-like atmosphere that works for you. What would you want on a relaxing spa day? Foot massage? Soft smells? Calm music? A beautiful scenery? The goal of a childbirth laced in letting go will consist of all of these and more. Seek out ways to make your ideal spa day possible for your baby's birth day. Your baby will thank you (eventually)!!
7.) Repear steps 1-6 until STILL
Having peace about your journey into motherhood is quite a feat in and of itself. Nobody is perfect and many times we will never fully get the experience we desire. But I love what Bobby Unser said, "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet."
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts about this blog post!! Shoot me a comment and let's start a conversation!!
Throughout pregnancy, women experience many different changes, aches, and discomforts. A most common symptom is tired feet. A lot of pressure is put on the legs and feet as baby gets heavier. Not only does the baby attribute to more weight gain but so does the maternal physiology and metabolism: water, amniotic fluid and blood accretion, uterine and placental growth, and breast and fat mass. This is enough to convince anyone that a woman's feet are substantially underrated and undernourished.
The feet are the foundations of the body. They have reflex points for every organ. Modalities like reflexology can stimulate and balance the body. In the case of pregnancy, the body is going through a lot of changes so a foot massage can be highly beneficial in staying grounded and balanced throughout the process of growing a baby.
Benefits include: Increased blood flow, energy, and rejuvenation, reduced swelling, released tension and an overall happier mama!
The following is a SAFE foot massage that can be used all throughout pregnancy and for labor. It is good practice for the partner to have a supporting role in labor. And for all you single mamas out there, you can do this to yourself sitting in a cross-legged position.
**One caution: there is an acupressure point between the inner *ankle bone and the Achilles tendon, which, when stimulated, may produce labor contractions. This should only be stimulated when a pregnant woman is in labor.**
You may use essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut oil if that is preferred. Be sure to mix the oils together on your hands before massaging the foot. Safe essential oils for pregnant women are: Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Peppermint, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, Ginger, Geranium, and Bergamot.
Foot Massage for Labor
First, position the foot so that it is supported for the woman's relaxation and for you to work comfortably.
1) Using the palm of both hands, use firm strokes to massage from the toes to the feet, all the way up to the calf, and lighter strokes to massage back down the calf to the feet and toes. Repeat at least 3x up and down.
2) Gently squeeze (not twist) the entire foot with both hands like you're squeezing water out of a sponge at least 5x. Count to 5 between each squeeze for blood flow to return. Just like a sponge when you squeeze out the water, you wait for the water to soak back into the sponge.
3) With your fingers on top of the foot, use your thumb to press into the spot just under the ball of the foot. Hold for about 10 seconds and let it go. Repeat this about 5x in the same way as the sponge technique.
4) Use your thumbs to make small circles on the bottom of the foot.
5) Use your knuckles to massage the instep/arch of the foot.
6) Use your fingertips to make small circles around the ankle bone* and top of the foot.
7) Use your fingertips or thumbs to stroke from the top of the ankle down between each toe.
8) Gently pull or wiggle each toe.
9) Use your thumb and side of your index finger to press down gently on the top of each toe and release, like you would when you click open a retractable pen.
10) Squeeze the top of the foot with both hands at least 3x.
11) Squeeze the bottom of the foot with both hands at least 3x.
12) Make a Hand-Foot sandwich: With your fingers pointing towards the ankle, use both hands to firmly "sandwich" the foot. Hold firmly to a count of five, then lighten the pressure and pull hands away slowly. Repeat at least 3x.
Ladies and Gents, let me know your thoughts and how I can help!
Did you try it?
Ladies, did you love it?
Partners, was your mama happy with your foot work? What can you do to make it more enjoyable?
2 1/2 c. flour