Jack and I were so grateful to you (and Amy) for all the wisdom, expertise and loving kindness you provided to help us realise the gentle birth we wanted for our baby.
Within 48 hours of Baby Two’s one-week birthday, we registered her birth at the ICA, her healed umbilical nub fell off, and I bundled all of my maternity clothes up for a friend who’s due this summer: bureaucratic, physiological, and ritual indications that the pregnancy phase was well and truly complete. While celebrating (and, honestly, mourning) this transition from expectant to arrived, I’ve been trying to think back on the mind-body birth connection we discussed on your last post natal visit.
There’s not much on the matter that I could say better than Ina May Gaskin has already written in her books (particularly her unforgettably titled chapter on “Sphincter Law”!). But my main thought, in hindsight, is this:
“The secret to a peaceful birth, at least in my two experiences, is to drop out of your head and give everything over to your body.”
This runs counter to so much of what I have been previously taught or understood about what it takes to be a healthy and successful modern person, e.g. that our bodies are “optimised” only when disciplined through our minds’ scientifically informed knowledge of what’s best for them (what to eat, how to exercise, even how to breathe); that to achieve goals, one must always be totally alert, focussed, analytical, visualising success, etc. Also, as pregnant women, struggling to combat gender stereotypes, we are taught to try to fight, disguise, or at least make embarrassed excuses for our “baby brains.” While “baby brain” is rarely helpful at the office to be sure, my experience has been that as labour approaches, embracing the pregnant mind’s natural tendency to go soft and fuzzy is a positive shortcut to letting the pregnant body take over and do what it’s perfectly designed to do: give birth.
When you’re pregnant, I reckon you need to use your brain at full capacity for c. 38 weeks to make informed choices about healthcare providers, a balanced diet, sensible exercise, a detailed birth plan etc, (not to mention all the other non-pregnancy related responsibilities in your life!) but then for the last fortnight or so, it helps to relinquish pretences of control and embrace the warm-fuzzies.
In my recent pre-birth weeks, frantically trying to tick off household to do lists and drafting complex work documents were effective ways to (unintentionally) shut down early surges; taking decadently long showers, savouring the tastes and textures of delicious food, and bopping about with my toddler to the bass-heavy and lyric-light section of my husband’s record collection–all activities more bodily/sensual than mental/intellectual–proved effective (and bonus: enjoyable) ways to prepare for labour.
Every woman is different so I’m sure this approach won’t apply to everyone; maybe it only applies to me. But you asked.