There can be sooo much to prep when you're expecting a baby. You've been faithfully taking your prenatal vitamins, your diet is on-point, your baby shower has come and gone, you've done the infant CPR and childbirth education classes, you've watched tons of baby and labour videos, maybe you've taken a few prenatal yoga classes, maaybe you've hired a doula and maaaybe you've even managed to get few books read in the months leading up to the big day.
You feel like you've done it all.
But, the real prep of labour and parenthood happens in your mind and with your spirit.
From all the births I've been blessed to be a part of, I can say with confidence and honesty that birth happens differently for those who take the time to really dig deep within themselves and focus inward before labour begins.
I wrote a previous post on changing the language you use about birthing to begin to change your perception, but there's prep that can go a bit deeper than that. After attending these births, I asked the birthers what they did to prepare.. and here is some of what they shared.
1. Birth affirmations: It's great if you can download some, it's awesome if you can buy some and it's even better if you can make them yourself. However, having them isn't enough. Birth affirmations can be read morning and night, in the car before work, during your lunch break, etc. Reading them rewires the pathways in your brain, calms down your nervous system and tones down any anxiety you might be feeling. Slowly, slowly, slowly anxiety is replaced with confidence and slowly, slowly, slowly you're reprogramming your beliefs around birth.
2. Birth tarot: Imagine having a deck of cards, each with a different possibility for birth. Homebirth, episiotomy, hydrotherapy, vacuum, 36-hour labour, forceps, epidural, pitocin induction, etc. All the best-case scenarios and all the not-so-ideal scenarios laid out in front of you, and you draw a card, not knowing what you might get. That's as close to real-life birth prep as you can get.. This is an exercise you can replicate at home with little bits of paper. Each day you can draw a paper and reflect on how you feel about what you pulled. For example, if you were to be faced with forceps, what initial feelings come up for you? How do you feel about it? How could you make it okay? Dig deep, be honest. Wash, rinse, repeat.
3. Birth Story: You've probably listened to so many birth stories at this point, maybe even read birth stories online or in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, but it's time to push away other people's stories and create your own. You are not your mother's birth story, you are not your sister's birth story, you are not your best friend's birth story. You are your story, and you are both the writer and the main character. Take time to write your birth story as often as you possibly can.. And yes, write your story. Write different versions with different beginnings, middles and ends. Write the birth you expect to have, you want to have, you hope you don't have.. but in all the stories, you're the writer so you can write them and make all versions feel good. Write yourself informed, write yourself present, write yourself strong.