Well, here it is my first official blog post! I have been pondering this moment for a while and feeling inspired for ages. But the voices in my head take over often. You know the voices – the “You’re not good enough, no one will read it. no one cares anyway” voices. And so procrastination became my friend, even though I know that I have a lot to say about pregnancy, birth, high risk pregnancies, how to not feel like crap after giving birth and don’t ever EVER! give a toddler an entire jar of sparkles during craft time.
I decided long ago my first blog post would be about having a kick-ass birth, or how to be a warrior mother birther or maybe warrior goddess birther QUEEN. Would I make you a long list of what to bring? “The essential list to bring to the hospital with you; what to pack in your bag.” Well you can find that list easily on the hospital’s website, or your midwife will share one. I am going to tell you straight up that the most essential and important thing you can bring with you does not fit in any bag. You cannot pack it.
YOU ACTUALLY HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED
It’s your RESILIENCE and tenacity that will get you through the biggest challenge in your life. It’s your ability to push through; your acceptance and your surrender to what is. And just like with me and finally writing this blog, you’ll hear some voices – maybe doubt will arise in your mind. Those voices can become mean, whispering or shouting all that you aren’t, and all that you cannot do. Reminding you of bullies from your past, you have become your own worst bully. Create some mantras that will bring your power back to your true self. For me, my mantras are “I have everything I need”, and “In my darkest hour, I remember my power.” Sometimes I find myself actually telling those voices off “You don’t even KNOW me! Piss off, you don’t belong here.” It works. (But I don’t say it out loud because it could unintentionally hurt someone else’s feelings and become a mean voice for them. I don’t want that!) With each surge during labour, you can change everything simply by saying your mantra to yourself. Okay, it doesn’t change EVERYTHING, but it will uplift you and remind you of who you really are and what you know you can do. This combats the voices. This gives you your resilience.
This is where the second most important thing you can have at your birth comes into play: your birth team. The people around you will remind you in those moments that you have everything you need. We are here for you, and you CAN do it and you will get through it. Your team will first include your OB or midwife. You want those people especially to be on board with all the things that are important to you for the outcome of your birth. If you want a VBAC, select an OB who supports them. If you want to have a water birth, select a midwife who can make that happen for you. Your birth partner is your advocate. They are the one who will speak up for you if there is something that needs questioning. Your doula is the go-to between you and the medical staff. She’s going to get you switching positions and helping you find comfort. Your doula is also the one you can count on prenatally to be there for all your random questions. Feel free to reach out to at 2am when you lose your mucous plug and you’re not sure if it that goopy bloody mess on the toilet paper is okay. (The best kind of texts to wake up to are the mucous plug photos!) It’s all right, us doulas don’t mind – honest!
If you start to feel like things are not going the way you thought they would, this is where FLEXIBILITY is important. Yes, “flexible” as in doing lots of flexxy lunges and squats, to prepare for the endurance required during labour, and you also need to flex your mind to let in the stuff you did not expect, while letting go of the things you had expected. My friend imagined a hospital birth with not many interventions. She wanted infrequent monitoring and had no idea she would have to be monitored with a belly band. Her baby needed internal monitoring too, so for part of the labour she had to stay in bed with an electrode hanging out of her vagina, attached to the baby’s scalp. It was a bit unnerving, but she went with the nurse’s request since it was for the benefit of the baby. She CHOSE to not be stressed by the situation. Eventually the midwife convinced the nurse to take it off because baby was doing fine. She was able to labour on hands and knees and had some slow dancing movements with her partner.
The ability to be flexible with your birth plan is necessary. And while thinking of what type of birth you want (home birth, hospital birth, un-medicated, water birth or gimme-all-the-drugs birth!), don’t forget this: HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL WHILE GIVING BIRTH. When another client had dreamed of a home water birth, and at 41 weeks labour was still not in sight, she accepted a hospital birth was likely in the cards. We tried everything to start labour. Her baby girl was born in the hospital, with a medicated birth after she had been induced, and she was still able to exclaim “I had my dream birth! My family was here, I had a vaginal birth and I felt loved and supported.” It was so amazing. Her ability to be flexible with her birth plan enabled her to find the perfect outcome in a birth story she never envisioned could be possible in a hospital setting.
There are definitely things you can bring to make your birth more comfortable that you won’t find in the guide from the hospital. Music is allowed in the birth room and I highly recommend it. Make a playlist that is uplifting. Bring music that helps you relax, and bring music you want to bounce on a birth ball to. (My mother told me to suggest ABBA, but I think she just wanted a shout out. “HI MOM!”) You are free to bring “Relaxing Sounds of the Sea”, but if you think dolphin chirps and whale moans get a bit annoying on a good day, they will definitely be irritating during labour. Music keeps you focused and is proven to elevate oxytocin-feel-good hormones – the magical panacea for labour. If you forget to bring music I have a birth playlist and I also bring a mini bluetooth speaker you can use. Hydrotherapy is great for labour too, and all birth rooms in Toronto have the option of showers. I have had clients who swear by essential oils so if you bring the oil, I’ll bring the diffuser. So far I have not met a birth team who were not on board with essential oils being used during labour.
You can easliy find lists of what to bring to the hospital. That’s even something we’ll discuss prenatally. Isn’t pregnancy all about the big preparation for the baby? So go ahead and Monica Gellar-ize your house to plan for the baby, but the most important thing you need for birth is your state of mind. You can get through all of what will come your way. You will come out the other side with your baby and birth story. If you want your birth to be kick-ass then you need discover the things that makes you strong. Find a way to ground yourself, whether through yoga, meditation or breathing. Say those mantras to yourself every damned day. Teach yourself resilience. And mostly, remember you have everything you need.