As we grow these little tiny beings in our bodies, we are always thinking about the big day when he/she will come out. “How will I be able to handle the pain?” we ask ourselves. “What can I do to prepare?” The truth of the matter is, there is a lot of pain, suffering and “uncomfortableness” around pregnancy, and leading up to the big day. If we condition ourselves to be “comfortable” with what we go through during pregnancy, we will have a solid foundation going into birth.
Here are eight ways you can prepare yourself and your body for a smooth labor and easier birth.
1. Educate Yourself
There’s a lot of fear around the unknown of what happens to our bodies during pregnancy and labor. The more fear that we have, the more we become anxious and the more stress hormones are released, thus making labor, in itself, more painful. As you ease your mind–empowering it with information about what to expect throughout pregnancy and labor–the intensity of pain lessens.
2. Tap the Power of Pregnancy Yoga
In a pregnancy yoga practice, there’s a lot of emphasis on breathing, especially through the difficult poses. Through working with our breath, we are able to relax more in uncomfortable moments. Our breath will allow us to remain present and ground us during these times, as well as give us a break in between tough times.
By practicing the poses common to most pregnancy yoga classes, you will learn how to release lower back tension, and open up your chest and shoulders and hips. All of these muscles can hold onto tension during pregnancy and labor, so learning how to release this tension during your pregnancy is very helpful.
3. Make TIme for Meditation
A meditation practice puts your body and mind into training that enables you to sit with times of discomfort. The deeper we are able to go into a practice, the more objectively we are able to observe everything around and within ourselves, rather than reacting to it. It will allow us to remain present with everything.
4. GIve Yourself Regular Exercise
Through consistent activity, you allow your body to be conditioned, to become stronger, and to be able to withstand added stress on your joints and muscles. As baby grows within our bodies, our load increases. Our bodies become more used to the “uncomfortableness” of pregnancy and labor.
Walking is one of the best activities to do when you are pregnant. It teaches you patience and induces a state of relaxation.
5. Utilize Visualizations and Mantras
Our mind is a very powerful tool in pain management. Through specific mantras and sayings, we can decrease our pain. A favorite saying I like to use is, “Strong mama breath. Breathe in for baby.” Or with each contraction, visualize your cervix as a flower that is opening, as you chant, “Open, open, open.”
6. Call in Your Support System
Having a stable, peaceful support team is very helpful during childbirth. Don’t hesitate to stand up for yourself (or have your partner do so) and tactfully ask a non-peaceful person to leave the room. Hiring a doula is another great way to help support you and your partner during this time.
A doula is trained in the birth process and in how to help alleviate extra stress of the unknown. Every doula is different in their gifts that they bring to a birth. An increase in peacefulness during the birth process equals a decrease in pain.
7. Harness Your Mental Strengths
Trust in the whole process of pregnancy and labor. Visualize that each contraction is a wave that slowly peaks in intensity, then comes down.
Having this sense of courage, as you face a contraction, knowing that it will pass, will decrease the anxiety and stress around it. Trust that this too shall pass. In between each contraction, focus on the breath, to allow yourself to rest and become present to this time.
8. Be Present
Whatever “uncomfortable” situation you are in, breathe it fully in. There is no running, no escaping, just being with it. If it is a contraction, let it wash over you, like a wave, then soften and surrender into it, as if you were a jellyfish. Allow it to pass through you. It is our very breath that will allow us to be present with it all.