Let me start by saying that as a doula, I am here to support you in your birth no matter what your choices are. I do not have an agenda for your birth and I am not here to steer you in a particular direction.
When I do a birth planning session with my clients, I start by asking them how they would like their birth to feel. When we start planning from that perspective, then if things go off script, my client can still have the experience she wants. For example, maybe she wants to feel empowered and maybe her birth plan states that she would like to avoid an epidural. She can still feel empowered if she changes her mind, as long as she feels heard, is able to take some time to process her feelings, and with confidence says, “I have decided that the best thing for me and my baby right now is an epidural.” The circumstance may have changed but the outcome stays the same – empowerment!
Another thing I talk with my clients about during this planning session is what their goals are. While we want to ensure that her emotional needs are met, it still is beneficial to go into the birth room with a plan. This gives us a direction to go and an idea of tasks to do and things to try. It helps me to know how to interact with my clients knowing what they are trying to accomplish. I can now give them information and support that will help them meet those goals, and also let them know when some of the choices they are thinking about making may not help those goals be realized.
I have found that one of the most important factors for someone meeting their goals is believing that they can do it. Mindset is a huge factor to consider.
What is your mindset regarding birth?
Do you think you can do it?
I’m here to tell you, YOU CAN!
When you became pregnant, you didn’t take a “Make a Fetus” Class. Your body knew what to do; from 2 cells to trillions. Why do we think that when we get to the end, our body is suddenly not going to know what to do?
While interventions are sometimes necessary, most would agree that the more we can allow the body to do its thing, the better it is for both mother and baby. I have a lot of clients who want to try to do just this – to have as little intervention in the natural process as possible. But for a variety of reasons, they doubt themselves. Sometimes they are simply anxious about going through something unknown that they have never done before. Sometimes they are truly scared of feeling “that much pain.” Sometimes others have put fears in their heads – “your baby is getting to big,” or “you’ll never be able to handle it.” Whatever the reason, these doubts have a way of sabotaging their experience.
The body follows the mind.
Here’s something to try to see how powerful thoughts can be.
Imagine you are in a kitchen. One that brings you a happy sense of “home.” Picture a counter with a cutting board with a lemon on it. Imagine yourself picking up the lemon – see the bright color that it is, feel it in your hands. Picture a knife on the counter and begin to cut the lemon. See yourself slicing the lemon in half. Now pick up half of the lemon and smell it, then take a taste. Feel the juice in your mouth and the sour taste on your tongue.
If you were to do that exercise with your eyes closed, and in a relaxed state, there’s a good chance that by the end, your heart rate would be slower, your breathing more regular, and your mouth may even have begun to water. Your thoughts have the power to cause changes in your physical body.
So, what can you do to promote a positive mindset?
Surround yourself with positive people. Don’t listen to the birth horror stories. Don’t hang out with people that have a negative view of you and your strengths. Find people who will remind you how powerful you are and how you can tackle this challenge. Assemble a dream team for your birth – consider hiring a doula as part of this team.
Words are important – choose them wisely. Birth affirmations can be very influential. Find phrases and sayings, print them out, and put them around the house. Make a banner of them to take with you to the birth room, or to hang in the nursery. Put something positive as a screen saver on your computer or phone so you’ll see it often. Have your birth team members use these phrases to remind you of your ability in labor.
Use visualization – practice this throughout pregnancy so you can go back to it in labor. Spend 10 minutes a day actually “seeing” yourself have the birth you want. Use your birth affirmations as you practice your relaxation techniques. “Create” this birth experience in your mind.
And when it comes time to meet your baby,
JUST DO IT –
BECAUSE YOU CAN!