As I complete my Doula workshop and become a DONA trained Doula many emotions fill my mind. “Mind over matter” is something I learned at my yoga class that I am currently taking but it was also reinforced during my workshop this past weekend. The mind plays such an important role in not just the birth process but everything else surrounding us. You have to conquer your mind before anything else. Educate your mind and exercise it. Use relaxation techniques. Learn to relax and just let go. These are all important for labor.
When at home lay on a yoga mat. Close your eyes. Turn on some calming music without any words. Focus on yourself. Listen to your breathing. Breathe in through the nose and out through your mouth. Imagine an object and focus on it. Release the tension in your shoulders, arms, hands, legs, and feet. Lay there for ten minutes and don’t think about anything. Train your mind to relax. That’s the first step to preparing for childbirth. I can’t stress how important that is and I wish I knew how to relax in my first birth. I was so concentrated on the fact that I wanted my birth a certain way and I didn’t want a C-section or get induced. I was more stressed over trying to control my body than my mind. Stress creates tension in your muscles and turns on your sympathetic system or in other words your “flight or fight mode.” How are you supposed to give birth when your whole body is tensed ready to run away? You need to relax so that your cervix can open up. Practice relaxation techniques, it’s an art to be able to let go and truly not think about anything.
I am excited about pregnancy, I’m not afraid of birth anymore. Even though, I feel like I had a traumatic birth experience the first time around I learned from it. I learned what I won’t do for the second birth and what I will do. You need to know your body. You need to know yourself. You need to embrace the process; birth is such a beautiful event. I can’t wait to be that support system for mothers and their partners. Each birth is different and unique. I definitely learned this weekend how not to share your own birth stories to the new expectant mother. It’s not fair to her. I was in that boat. All I would hear were negative stories of how everybody ended up having a Cesarean. I cried. I didn’t want that. I wanted a natural drug free birth, but my thought process didn’t support it. All I kept thinking was how to avoid getting induced. I knew induction would lead to epidural which may lead to a Cesarean. It’s a cascade of interventions. Think about the positives not the negatives. If you’re a mom-to-be listen to the good stories. It’s okay to tell your friends or co-workers that you just don’t want to hear about the negatives right now. It’s only fair to you, to your baby, and your body. If you want support to have a positive birth experience I recommend hiring a doula.
“What is a doula anyways you might ask? Why do I need her? I’m just going to get an epidural and be done.”
A doula is a support system for the mother and for the partner. It is a person who will be there to physically and emotional support a mother throughout the birth. Doulas learn different techniques how to soothe a mother during labor and how to comfort her through her pain. Even if a mom doesn’t want a natural childbirth a doula can still be helpful. You cannot just get an epidural right away; you must be dilated to a certain point. There are breathing exercises that the doula can do with you while you wait for the anesthesiologist to come to you. Trust me it takes a while. I remember from the moment I screamed “GIVE ME AN EPIDURAL NOW” to the moment I got it must have been at least an hour. I was fortunate though to have a doula as well as my husband by my side to support me throughout my whole birth. Together with my husband they worked as a team to reduce my pain during my contractions. A doula doesn’t replace the partner, but instead shows the partner how to help the mom work through the pain. Doulas usually come in during active labor and stay until the baby is born. We got pretty lucky because we didn’t know what was even happening and our doula stayed with us from the beginning to the end. Yes my doula stayed for 40 hours! Every woman who wants a doula should have a doula by her side!
Practice relaxation techniques this week!
Close your eyes and repeat these words as my yoga teacher says “Peace to the mind. Peace to the body. Peace to the soul. Peace surrounding me everywhere.”
by Kseniya Gershberg