Words by Natalie Stringer
Have you ever heard that saying ‘Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it?’
Birthing your baby is one of the most memorable, extraordinary yet physically challenging experiences that is going to happen in your entire lifetime, so why take the joy out of it by being scared or fearful?
Your mindset directly influences how you make decisions and how you deal with situations that arise in your lifetime. Preparing to birth your baby with a calm state of mind is essential if you would like to remain in control and birth in a way that feels right for you. Not your sister, not your next-door neighbour, or the lady that touches your baby bump in the supermarket, but you. After all, it is only you who really knows how you feel both physically and emotionally on the day your baby decides to be born.
Imagine going into labour feeling fearful of birthing your baby, tensing your birthing muscles and slowing down the natural process by doing so.
Now imagine going into labour feeling totally in control, super confident and allowing your body to labour just as nature intended. These two different scenarios will have two very different outcomes, simply because when your mind is relaxed your body can do nothing but follow.
Your brain is an incredible organ. So incredible, that the majority of it (that huge 88%) controls all the functions of your body that you don’t have to even think about, like the functioning of your uterus for example. When your body and your baby are ready to go into labour it is an involuntary action that happens with no conscious interference at all. It is the stimulation of that incredible hormone ‘oxytocin’ that gets things going. So that’s already one thing you don’t have to think about. Your body does it for you when it is good and ready. So now you can relax.
So, what does it actually mean, birthing with a positive mindset?
There are several ways of doing this and all elements of the following marry together beautifully to create peace and calm within the mind going forward throughout the rest of your pregnancy, to make for an easier, even euphoric experience.
It means birth planning by discovering your options and being in the know about all situations that could arise during labour and how you would like to deal with them. If you don’t know your options, then you simply don’t have any. Being informed will enable you to remain calm on the day. Being informed with positive language is also an integral part of how your mind accepts information. Childbirth is unpredictable and unique in every single way, but that doesn’t mean that the situation you find yourself in is wrong or bad. Women and babies do not follow a rule book so just remember that your baby’s birth is individual in its own right.
That’s another tick off your list, as there will be no element of surprise to make you panic. Just a calm state of mind enabling you to make decisions smoothly.
Your expectation of how your baby’s birth is going to be is also incredibly important. We already see lots of difficult and dramatic births through the media as they get the viewers in, but to go forward with confidence and calm you have to find the balance that is out there. Peaceful, gentle, comfortable births happen every day. Surround yourself with inspiring beings who speak with elation and enthusiasm about their babies’ births, letting you know that there is another option out there, and a much easier option at that.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to promote calm and relaxation in the mind and body is by utilising your breath. Long, deep breaths through the nostrils promote a natural slowing of the breath creating a slow rhythmical pace. You will be surprised just how elongated your out-breaths can be during labour, especially during the phase where your baby is being born. Deep controlled breaths promote high oxygen levels to you and your baby and also conserve your energy levels.
Now for the big one - visualisations. By distracting your mind away from any sensations that you may be feeling in your body during labour, will make for an easier and more comfortable birth. Your mind filters out any information that is not important to it at any given time, so if all you are concentrating on is the feelings of surges (contractions,) these sensations are going to be heightened. If you enable yourself to let your mind drift off (this requires practice throughout pregnancy) then your mind will be focusing on something completely different enabling your body to labour without any conscious interference. Did you know that your subconscious mind responds to imagery? The power of visualisations is so powerful and can help to maintain calm in the mind and body.
So, there are just a few, easy suggestions for you as to how you may like to keep negativity at bay and only focus on the positive in the run up to your baby’s birth. Remember, childbirth is a natural and normal function for the female body and there are several pathways to choose how you wish your baby to be born. Trust your instincts and birth in a way that feels right for you.
Natalie is a successful hypnobirthing mother herself and teaches The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme to expectant mothers and their birth partners throughout London, Kent, and Sussex. Visit www.equilibrium-birthing.co.uk to find out more about positive birth coaching including weekly blog posts regarding all things pregnancy.
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