So it’s been a while, and for that I apologize.
But, I had a baby. So, I’d give me some slack.
I wanted to share an article that was published on MothersUncensored.com, which I had written back in February. The piece means a lot to me and I hope that you not only visit the site for other stories from like-minded women, but find another connection in my published words.
From the moment I became pregnant, I was bombarded with everyone’s personal experiences. Fathers and mothers alike offered stories about what parts of the pregnancy would be hard, and the agony of childbirth. I would bet that the majority of pregnant women have had similar experiences. You hear about the honeymoon phase(s), the joy of the first kick, the agony of constipation and morning sickness, and how by 32 weeks, you are itching to get the baby out of you. Then when the big delivery day comes, you are in for 24-72 hours of pure hell.
This is trend of negativity is terrible. We need to support each other, and perhaps more significantly, we need to believe in the incredible ability that has been bestowed upon women as a gender: we can create and grow a life inside of us.
In her book Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin discusses the existence of a mind-body connection stating: “Your attitude and how you approach your birth is of the utmost importance […] face each birth like a bull, with force, no fear or hesitation, with the attitude that you can do this and you aren’t going to hold back. This is your opportunity to remember your power as a woman.”
This statement alone has the ability to change the course of your delivery, and should trump all of the painful stories told by mothers, sisters, girlfriends, colleagues, and the media. When a pregnant woman hears about pain, the seeds of fear, anxiety, and apprehension are planted. Unfortunately, once this expectation of pain has been sown in your mind, your body will react, potentially even creating the experience of a greater pain than is real.
It has been proven that when fear and anxiety riddle the mind of a woman in delivery, energy levels drop, dilation is slowed, and the chances of complications or emergency cesareans and interventions increases. A person’s mental state can greatly affect the physical outcomes. This has been discussed in other arenas, most notably perhaps in terms of athletics and artistic performances. If you are nervous and fearful, your performance will suffer. Giving birth is no different.
I, like millions of other women, reeled through a wide-ranging spectrum of emotions when I found out I was pregnant. My own fears of being a good mother, being financially stable enough, being strong enough to battle the negativity the in the world around us nearly became overwhelming. Rather quickly, however, I realized what an amazing thing my body was doing. While my mind was busy worrying itself, my body began working immediately to sustain a fertilized egg, nurture it, and create the framework that would become a new human life.
This is wildly empowering. And I wanted to maintain the sense of empowerment through the rest of my pregnancy in the face of the negative stories that were offered. One way that I was able to do this is by researching positive birth stories.
By reading and hearing first-hand experiences from women who remained a sense of conscious positivity, I began to feel much stronger and enthusiastic about the big day. What value is there in maintaining a positive outlook on childbirth and motherhood?
Staying positive traditionally leads to better health, diet and sleep habits, which are so important during pregnancy.
Having the motivation and energy to successfully get through pregnancy and childbirth.
Sustaining the mental and physical strength to not give up on your ability to deliver your child.
Hope for motherhood, as well as potential future pregnancies.
Faster and easier labor and delivery.
Faster postpartum healing time.
How do you develop a positive outlook on pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood?
- Look for positive stories. Even when engaged in a conversation with a woman offering a negative experience, steer the conversation in a positive direction. Even the simple question like if there was any positive or empowering aspect of the experience that she could share. In addition, there are plenty of books and resources available online and at your local bookstores and libraries.
- Align your attitude with a growth mindset. Acknowledge the fact that results stem from efforts put into your actions, so if you want a successful and strong delivery, you must put in the mental, emotional, and physical effort.
- Explore reasons to smile and be grateful. Whether with your partner or alone, make plans for the future with your child. Having plans to visit museums, go for walks, even just the baby’s first photo shoot will give you something to look forward to postpartum.
- Don’t dismiss the value of the baby that is already living inside of you. Communicate regularly with your baby and work on creating that bond pre-delivery.
- Choose to be happy. When negative thoughts or fears enter your mind, acknowledge their existence, then replace them with a happier thought. An example would be having the fear of a long, painful birth. Ok, that may happen, but you can choose to focus on the outcome of the scenario. Replace the thought with the feeling that will overwhelm you when you see your baby for the first time, when you hold your baby for the first time.
- Attend childbirth classes. While no two experiences are identical and no single lesson can encompass everything you may or may not experience in the delivery room, going into childbirth equipped with knowledge can greatly alleviate fear and apprehension.
- Find a peaceful place. If you are able to walk every day in a place that brings a sense of serenity to your soul and your being, go there. You can achieve a similar goal through meditation and yoga as well. Focus on your happy place, and how to maintain a peaceful, long breath.
Pregnancy is a beautiful and wonderful experience from beginning to end with natural, expected bumps along the way. We must remember, though, when communicating with those around us that negative thoughts beget negative results, and positive thoughts beget positive experiences.