The Perfect Birth
What comes to mind when we think about childbirth? A woman in pain, a flurry of doctors and nurses, and a hospital bed with bright lights overhead? Words like contraction, pain, hospital, and medication can come up in our thoughts.
Some women like to change their perspective, and view childbirth as a transformative, beautiful, and awe-inspiring process. One that will change their lives forever, and enable them to perform the single greatest act that a human body can. This woman sees herself as a goddess in labor.
What could be wrong with that?
The problem comes when we put faith and energy into a positive fantasy, or any expectation that we create in our minds. The more we reflect on it, mull it over, envision this event, the more likely it becomes that hurt and even devastation can follow if things don't go 'according to plan.' If we dwell too much on a negative fantasy, we simply reinforce it and make it more likely to happen.
"If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans."
We've all heard this saying, but does it stop us? We are constantly building up walls to the negative, trying to control our lives, and fretting about the future. We worry if we will be good parents, raise kind children, and be able to provide all the things and experiences that we want for them.
For many women, this ideal parent image starts with birth and breastfeeding. As I've referenced in aprevious post, more than two thirds of new mothers desire to exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first few months of life. But most don't achieve their goals.
Could it be that we are setting ourselves up to fail, envisioning a loving and immediate nursing bond that makes us feel everything we are supposed to feel? We want to be sheltered and left alone with our babies, hold them close and coo, and learn every little detail of their tiny bodies. We want them to latch immediately and comfortably, and our milk to be the perfect supply for them. There's nothing inherently wrong with this!
But there comes a time when we need to ask ourselves, do our fantasies help us, or hurt us?
Are they leading us to a place of worry and fear, or openness and love?
What can we do to ensure your ideal birth, how do we build a constructive, simple birth plan?
I ask you to take 5 minutes and visualize your baby's birth. Imagine yourself going into labor. What time of day is it? What does it look like outside? What do you smell? What do you feel? Who's with you?
From there, feel your contractions grow stronger. Imagine working with your baby through them. What's around you? What do you senses want to see, feel, and smell? What do you hear being said, do you hear anything at all?
Visualize your baby being born into the world. Who is at your side? What do you see? Are you standing, sitting, lying down? How does your baby react to being born?
Put as much or as little detail into this exercise as you feel comfortable. When you're ready, pull your focus back and look at your ideal birth. What do you feel, deep down, when you see this process unfolding? Even if it feels bad, feel it and let those feelings exist and then pass, like water moving through a stream. Anxiety, fear, and pain are all essential feelings and are signals for us to pay attention.
If you visualize yourself birthing alone in a field of wildflowers, you may not achieve that ideal. But you can bring elements of your fantasy into your simple birth plan, you can achieve the environment and mood you want, and you can allow the situation to unfold as it will with a sense of peace and calm.
If you see a beach by the ocean, you can have scents in the room that remind you of the sea, a sound machine playing soothing waves, and practice meditating on that beach so you can call upon that calming image during contractions.
In her book titled Natural Hospital Birth, Cynthia Gabriel gives the single best birth plan example I've ever read in a chapter titled, Getting Attached to Your Birth Plan. This is a great resource for visualizing your labor and reading other mothers' birth ideals. She offers a two sentence birth plan.
Dear Birth Team: Please help me achieve the most natural birth possible. I'm so grateful for everyone who is helping us on this wonderful day.
Sincerely, [your name].
What questions do you have about birth plans and your options?
Need help finding a doula? Sublime Motherhood is here for all of your Childbirth Education, Birth & Postpartum Doula Services, and Placenta Encapsulation Services in Virginia Beach.
If you're out of area, try DoulaMatch for local referrals.
For more information regarding fantasies and how they affect us, and how we can achieve contentment without complacency, check out this Zen Habit's post.