Pregnancy is the beginning of a journey that will transform your life forever.
The end of pregnancy and the beginning of motherhood is accessed via the gateway of childbirth; an epic and dramatic experience that definitely requires preparation for.
Take these 10 steps during your pregnancy to prepare your body and mind for the experience of a lifetime and a birth you will remember with joy.
1.Prepare your Body with Yoga
Yoga is the optimum physical practice for pregnancy. Working on every level of the being from the physical to the energetic, there is no better way to exercise, develop body awareness, discover breath work and deepen your connection to yourself than with yoga. Practice at least twice a week to reap the benefits.
Attend your local Pregnancy Yoga class for at least one of those two sessions and then establish one 30 minute home practice session using either a Pregnancy DVD or one of the the many online classes available. Your body and mind will thank you for the time and care you show yourself and your emerging pregnancy, you will be fit and centred as you approach the birth and you will have prepared your body to stretch and open during the birthing process.
2. Prepare your Mind with Meditation
Learning to meditate is the single greatest gift you can give yourself this pregnancy. Meditation is not about creating peace of mind – though that is an inevitable consequence – it is about learning to be with experience – however it is – without needing to change, fix or avoid it. Meditation enables us to become more self-aware, calmer and better able to cope with the challenges Life brings our way. Ten minutes of meditation every day will literally transform your state of mind.
3. Learn to Live Mindfully
Whilst Yoga and Meditation will bring you greater self-awareness during practice, Mindfulness helps you to live in that way beyond the meditation cushion and the yoga mat. Learning how to bring a more Mindful attention to your experience will create a liberating space between the stimulus you experience and your response to it – whether it is the intense sensations of your labour contractions or the distressing cries of your new-born baby.
4. Learn Your Birth Rights
This should be a cornerstone of contemporary birth education – and essential for every woman serious about birthing without intervention. First you need to learn your legal Birth Rights, then find out what the NICE guidelines are around your unique situation (aged 40, Strep B, VBAC, Post-dates etc). Finally explore your hospital’s policy on the key aspects of the labour and birth process. Now that you know the system you are birthing in you can see how it sits with your own birth preferences and calmly asses the risks and benefits of the choices you make from an INFORMED position. The phrase Am I Allowed is anathema in modern child-birthing. I give or do not give consent is the appropriate language to use. It reminds you whose birth this is and, in the end, who is personally responsible for the child in your womb.
5. Choose your caregivers wisely
As you move through pregnancy and learn more about the birthing world your choices will become clearer to you. Once those choices emerge make sure that your birthing environment and the people around you will support you in fulfilling them. From the place you birth in to the caregivers you have. Ask questions until you feel satisfied. And if you are not happy with your caregiver – then change them. It is your right to do so. Another key aspect of this step is to prepare your Birth Partner. Some fathers and partners fare better in the birthing room than others. First of all make sure that your partner really wants to be there. It means an open and honest conversation. If he or she does then make sure you do some practical birth prep work together so that he or she knows what being a good birth partner means and how best to support you on your birth journey.
6. Be Ready to Work with Fear and Pain
No birth will pass without moments of both – whatever your mindset and preparation. Whilst pain is entirely subjective it is definitely compounded by Fear. Usually, if we have not learned otherwise, we tend to avoid feeling the powerful emotion of fear. So learning to work with Fear itself will transform your birthing experience. Similarly exploring the nature of Pain and unique Labour Pain will empower you to trust and surrender to the process as it moves through you.
7 Discover your Pelvis
Practising pelvic floor exercises or kegels is not enough. The Pelvis is not only the gateway to Life outside the womb for your baby but it is also the source of your feminine essence and sexuality. Pregnancy is the time to discover how you feel about this part of your body.
Pelvic massage, perineal massage, developing pelvic awareness through visualisation, stretching and toning the soft tissue of the pelvis using body work and awareness exercises. Learning to breathe right down into the pelvis, practicing Mindful epi-no. In this way by the time you come to birth your baby you will feel comfortable, relaxed and connected to your birthing body.
8. Read Plenty of Positive Birth Stories
They offer a far more effective birth education that any expert’s opinion will. They report from the front line of the most awesome experience. They convey the truth of the birth experience most directly and crucially, they show you how women cope with the experience using the skills they have.
9 Write a Birth Plan and a Postnatal Plan
As you approach the end of your pregnancy, the birth plan becomes a document of all that you have learned and discovered along the way and the informed choices you now make as a result. Even though you know that birth often does not go to plan this document is an essential record of your preferences and of how you would like to be supported during Labour. Taking the time to write a postnatal care plan is also an essential investment in what can often be a very vulnerable time.
10. Learn Relaxation Skills and Practices for Labour
From hypnotic visualisation and positive affirmation to touch and massage to acupressure and aromatherapy there are a plethora of relaxation tools and birth skills available to those couples who are ready to learn them.
Find the movements and positions which will make you more comfortable through the various stages of labour and discover how sounding in labour is the most natural and effective global birthing practice. Feel confident that you are equipped, realistic, open-minded and ready mentally, physically and emotionally to embrace the birth journey you find yourself on.
I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the Mindful Approach to Childbirth with this Ten Step Guide and that you feel empowered to take the journey toward creating a beautiful and empowering experience for you and your family.
Mindful Birthing Ten Week Course with Nadia Raafat