When I first joined a childbirth class as a first time pregnant Mama, I didn’t know what to expect. Basically, I was looking for someone to tell me what to do when labor started and give me all the answers.
And in that class, I got those answers. But I also got SO.MUCH.MORE.
I learned to appreciate and be in awe of a woman’s body and all it could do.
I had a newfound respect for it and I have never looked at it the same way since.
Amongst all the things I learned, I also gained a deeper understanding of how my thoughts affected my body. Up until then, I didn’t pay much attention to how I talked about labor and birth, the words I chose to use to describe them, and the feelings and physical responses they elicited in my body.
And I have to admit that my words and thoughts weren’t always in the most positive light. Especially when I joked about it. I had unintentionally picked up the ironic humor that does the rounds on social media in the form of memes and long running jokes about labor, birth and babies.
When I became aware of the impact of the mind-body connection through the childbirth class I had attended, I made a very conscious effort through my pregnancy going forth to change the way I talked about birth and my baby in the womb. I chose to use respectful language and was more mindful about the words I used to describe my experience. I slowly became more aware of how the words I used created a physical reaction and response in my body.
The most important effect this had on me was that it changed the way I chose to view labor. Before the class, honestly, I thought of labor as this trial of fire – something that I had to tolerate, suffer through even, in order to bring this baby into this side of the world. But the more I learned about labor and birth, I came to realize that labor is really the work of the body to birth this baby safely and in the way it was intended. Work that was of utmost importance and was absolutely necessary if my uterus was to open successfully and send this baby down and out into the world.
And so, while I knew labor was an inevitable, possibly intense, part of the process for the birth that I wanted for myself and my baby, I chose to embrace it instead and open myself to the possibility that my own experience of labor is as unique as my body and baby is, and that I would just see how it goes. And so, I spent my remaining weeks of pregnancy working on my birthing mindset, building my confidence, and staying positive through the power of language and the words.
I had a 17 hour labor from start to finish. A labor I would describe now as relatively comfortable and smooth. Except the last three hours that were VERY intense (and 14 hours that were VERY comfortable).
The one thing that stands out to me in all that I did to cope with the intensity was this affirmation that unexpectedly came to my mind, and never left, in those last few, intense hours. “This contraction brings me one step closer to meeting my baby” It helped me focus and kept me going. It saw me through to the end. When I look back on that experience, I am amazed at the power of the mind. There were times when I doubted if I could do it, if I had it in me to see it through. And then when the affirmation came to mind, it helped me shift perspective and helped remind me about all that I had learned, all that I knew, and all that I was capable of, and I did it. I got the birth that I had worked for.