things i learned about childbirth: my labor and birth affirmations list

For the last post in my mini series on labor tools that I believe may help me, I am going to discuss my labor and birth affirmations list. Both my doula and my childbirth class instructor suggested compiling a list of birth affirmations to help me during difficult parts of my labor — or even before, during pregnancy. In fact, I chose three that resonated with me and I felt weren’t particularly specific to labor itself (for example, I don’t want to focus now on anything involving my cervix opening up!) and posted them in three places I am often (on my bathroom mirror, my cube wall at work, and on my iPhone’s background.) These three are:

  • I am a strong and capable woman
  • I accept myself completely here and now
  • I am completely relaxed and comfortable

I have looked at these affirmations so much I can honestly say they are pretty well ingrained in my head now, and I imagine I could easily call upon them during a time of struggle. There are so many birth affirmations to choose from (try googling them — I bet you come up with a ton of options!) and it’s important to choose ones that resonate with YOU. These are the ones (along with the three I listed above) that resonated with me:

  • I can feel my body opening up like a flower
  • Every surge brings my baby closer to me
  • This is a healthy, positive pain that I can handle
  • I allow my body’s natural anesthesia to flow through my body
  • Inhale peace, exhale tension
  • I have the energy and stamina to birth my baby
  • Today is the day I have been waiting so patiently for
  • I am not afraid
  • I trust my body to know how to birth this child
  • The power of my contractions cannot be stronger than me, because it is me

I think the power of our thoughts is an amazing thing, and by allowing peaceful, powerful thoughts such as the ones above to dominate your thoughts regarding your labor and delivery I believe it can do nothing but help. Most of all, I am thankful for an amazing team in my husband, midwives, and doula. I know we’ve assembled the right team to bring our daughter safely into the world, and for that I am so thankful.

I hope these posts have helped you think about what might help you during your labor and delivery. As always, all my best wishes go out to you!


things i learned about childbirth: when distractions don’t work anymore

Welcome to the second post of my mini series on childbirth and labor coping techniques I’ve learned during this beautiful nine-month journey! Last time, I talked about the power of distractions during early labor. This time, I’d like to share what my second step will be, when distractions don’t work anymore!  The key with each of these steps is that you follow them until they can’t possibly distract you from your discomfort any longer. This way, you have tons of tools in your bag and go slowly through your tools, leaving lots to the end, when it may be hard for many of us. Don’t fly through your coping techniques. Really be purposeful about when you progress from one technique to the next.

So when distractions don’t work anymore, my second step (recommended to me by my wonderful childbirth class instructor) will be to pop in a relaxation/guided meditation CD (actually already loaded onto my iPhone so I can play it no matter where I am) and go through the CD of guided meditations…until that can’t possibly work for me anymore.

So for this second technique, I selected a guided meditation CD that we practiced with in class and that I really enjoyed. Check out this woman’s list of pregnancy-related guided meditation CDs here, or just pick out a guided meditation CD you like that relaxes you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be pregnancy or labor specific. I purchased the “Imagery and Meditations for Labor and Birth Preparation” CD, which is also available, I believe, as an iTunes download.  One key to the success of this step is practicing with your CD from the moment you get it…our instructor suggested doing a meditation every day so you practice that deep relaxation. I have to admit I haven’t done it every day, but I have done it at least a few times a week and really enjoy it — even Hubby enjoys doing them along with me! Her voice is so soothing.

Make sure during any of these steps you are remaining limp through your contractions…as I learned, our only responsibility as birthing mothers (up until the pushing phase) is to remain limp and let our uterus work and bodies open up. When you tense up, you work against your contraction and also don’t release the pain — rather storing that energy in your muscles. So relax, breathe, and listen to your CD until you can’t possibly listen to it any longer.

Later this week I’ll talk about the breathing techniques and positions I will use during active labor and transition. As always, I can only share what I think might work for me, but as we all know none of us truly know what our experience during labor will be or what will work for us. I encourage you to do research, take a class, and find something that feels it will be a good fit for you!

things i learned about childbirth: the importance of distractions during early labor

Today I’m beginning a mini series in which I will share some of the wisdom and knowledge I’ve learned while studying childbirth and labor throughout my pregnancy and in a wonderful childbirth class focused on natural childbirth and coping techniques. In this post I will focus on the importance of distractions during early labor.

Early labor, on average, may last about nine hours (keep in mind that’s an average — yours may or may not be near that number at all.)  During that time, most women will experience contractions of mild to moderate intensity, but it will not yet be time to venture to the hospital (if you’re going to one) or to focus on your contractions.  I will not be focusing much on the ins and outs of early labor here — so if you’re curious about how often contractions come during this period, or how much you are dilating then, please feel free to do some extra research.

One thing I learned and do want to share with you though is that if you focus on those early contractions for a long period of time you will almost begin to want them to feel intense because you’re hoping so much for progression…with all that focusing on each contraction you’ll begin to focus on the increasing pain rather than coping with it/breathing through it, which doesn’t help for those who want to labor all the way through unmedicated — because you’ll have a lot stronger contractions ahead of you!

Instead, our childbirth class instructor suggested coming up with a list of distractions for early labor — a list that you can pull out when the time comes and you are so excited that you want to focus on your labor but know that it will not be in your best interest to do so yet. I did ask our instructor about those who may already be dilated to a three or so — do they still go through this time of early labor? She said they may not, or may not notice it, or it may just be for a very short time.  If it’s a noticeable amount of time, my plan is for hubby to go straight down the list suggesting things for us to do, and for me to call out yay or nay for each item:

Our Early Labor Distraction List

  • Go to the grocery store
  • Go to Barnes & Noble
  • Cook/freeze something
  • Watch a movie at home
  • Take a walk
  • Look through wedding album
  • Go to the mall or movie theatre
  • Write a letter
  • Work on baby album
  • Play with the cats
  • Go out to eat
  • Do yoga or stretches
  • Write a blog post
  • Nap
  • Write a poem
  • Play drum and/or guitar (hubby plays the guitar, not me — but I could dance or sing!)
  • Have a glass of wine
  • Start a journal of labor

I learned that there will come a time when early labor approaches active labor that you will no longer be able to be distracted during a contraction. This is the time to pull out the next in your line of coping techniques and labor tools, which I will discuss next time. To each her own, and the two of us are excited about this loose plan for labor!