7 HELPFUL TOOLS TO “BE WHERE YOU ARE” IN LABOR... AND IN LIFE
Support your parasympathetic system by bringing attention and/or direction to your breath. Do this any time you are aware of stress or tension in your mind or body. Here are a few examples:
Notice that you are breathing. Observe the quality of your breath for 1 minute.
Take 4 slow, deep, abdominal breaths. Inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 6 counts
Rest one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. Let your breath send love to your baby.
Choose and display at least 3-5 positive statements that affirm what you believe. While this can be as simple as a note on your phone or a voice recording of you reading your affirmations, we highly recommend playing with your creative energy to make affirmation cards that you can display while pregnant and take with you to your birthing place. Examples of affirmations for pregnancy and birth:
My baby is healthy and surrounded with love
I enjoy my pregnant body
I put all fear aside as I prepare for the birth of my baby
I trust my body and I follow its lead
My mind is relaxed; my body is relaxed
I feel confident, I feel safe, I feel secure
Each surge of my body brings me closer to my baby
I welcome my baby with happiness and joy
I am ready to be a mother
3. FAITH BASED INSPIRATION
Pray and read sacred text or other spiritually inspiring words. Examples:
Consider choosing faith-based affirmations such as these written by a Christian mama:
Search out sacred texts for meaningful quotations, such as these Bible quotes:
With God all things are possible – Matt 19:26
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength – Phil 4:13
The peace that passes understanding will guard your heart and mind – Phil 4:7
He will cover you with his feathers, and under His wings you will find rest – Ps 91:4
The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid – Heb 13:6
Perfect love casts out fear – 1 John 4:18
You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made – Ps 139:13
For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love and power and of calm and well-balanced mind – 2 Tim 1:7
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands – Ps 91:12
Be truly glad, there is wonderful joy ahead – I Pet 1:16
Prayer implies reaching out to something greater than yourself – and often, as we hand our concerns over to a Higher Power, we surrender our effort to control the outcome. It supports good health and offers a release that induces the relaxation response. There is no “right way” to pray. Examples:
Please allow me to release all resistance and fighting energy and rest peacefully. Allow me to feel safe. Allow me to feel that I am ok right where I am right now and to trust that whatever I need is making its way to me just as I need it.
Lord – My baby and my body belong to you. I am the vessel for your new life. Thank you for allowing me to be a co-creator with you. May my heart, mind and body rest in your arms. May your perfect will be done.
Anything that quiets your mind and relaxes your body is good. Aim for 10 minutes/day. Here are some suggestions/examples:
Sit or lie quietly. Notice your breath, slow your breath down, send your breath to any areas of tension, send love to your baby.
Take a bath. Starting with your toes and feet, inhale and tighten and scrunch your muscles and then exhale and let them go. Repeat with calves/knees, thighs/buttocks, ribs/back, shoulders/neck, arms/hands, head/face. Then inhale tightness and scrunching all over, like a fast wave from your feet up all the way to your face- exhale and relax your whole body. Breathe normally and notice the ease in your body.
Listen to a guided relaxation or visualization,
Gentlebirth app has deep relaxation tracks (hypnosis section)
Color. Adult coloring books have been shown to be as relaxing as meditation.
Here’s a nice one available on Amazon: Relaxing Coloring Book for Pregnant Women – Inner Soul Journey, by Shira Kidron
To boost your efforts, add essential oils to any of the above activities - or any time during the day. Let us recommend specific oils for physical relaxation, mental balance, stress/anxiety support, etc.
Mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention in the present moment, on purpose and non-judgmentally. As you practice intentional thought, you train your brain to think about what you want to think about. The benefit of practicing of mindfulness in preparation for labor cannot be overemphasized. Both of these apps are excellent and very assessable to beginners. Download one and practice daily. 10 min/day.
Headspace App (free 10 day trial, then monthly subscription) – It’s good for everyone.
Gentlebirth App (free trial, then monthly subscription) – pregnancy, birthing and parenting specific
Mindful Breathing (see section on Breath) – Just a few mindful breaths is great practice
Mindful Walking - See how much attention can you give to your feet, your stride, your posture, etc.
6. POSITIVE THOUGHTS
Nurture the thoughts you want to have. Feed them with images, words and your own intentional thoughts. Water the grass that you want to grow. Do not fuel fear. When “old stories” come up, simply choose to redirect your mind, as often as is needed. Do not feed them. Examples:
Listen to music that makes you feel happy and or calm.
Make two play lists for labor- happy music and relaxing music
Think about/read about/talk about positive birth stories
Look at pictures/videos of birth that encourage you
Collect pictures of inspiring birthing women from your own family tree
Try EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
In a moment of forecasting or fear ask, “What am I grateful for right now?” Let those thoughts of gratitude ease you into prayer, affirmation, or breath, so that you can create a positive experience “where you are.” Keep a gratitude journal (handwritten and by your bedside is lovely, although a note in your phone will suffice.) Aim to note three things each day for which you are grateful. This will encourage your mind to be on the look out during the course of the day for things to “write in my journal later.”