A big part of my pregnancy journey was preparing for birth. As I wrote in my previous posts from the beginning of my pregnancy on I set my mind to wanting to experience my pregnancy positively on a physical and mental level. I had the same intention for birth and I knew that a positive and natural birth experience required preparation. Giving birth definitely is not easy. It is a mental and physical marathon and to be able to successfully run a marathon one needs to train well and do so over an extended period of time.
I was never a person who was particularly scared of giving birth, but I did have some fears. Thankfully the moment I got pregnant these fears somehow disappeared and I did not have to work on letting go of fears. I know that for many women this is different. Me not being scared of giving birth had a lot to do with being absolutely thankful for getting pregnant and believing in my body and me. I knew and felt that if I am able to become pregnant I am also able to give birth. The female body is made to give birth.
My birth preparation did not only positively influence the birth but it actually also positively influenced my entire pregnancy and I guess feeling well throughout my pregnancy and enjoying it also positively influenced my birth.
One of the most important and helpful tools during birth was definitely my mind. While I was pregnant I set my mind to want to give birth as naturally as possibly. First and foremost I wanted to birth naturally in order to give Nailah the opportunity to enter this world the way nature designed it. I find it important to give a baby the chance to experience birth as naturally as possible without medication and surgery if that would be medically possible. In addition to wanting to give Nailah the chance to be born naturally I also wanted to give myself the chance to experience a natural birth.
While believing that I could take the pain of giving birth I however, also told myself that if I cannot take the pain I would allow myself to get pain relief or that if any medical intervention would be necessary I would be ok with it. Since I had never given birth before I had no idea how I would cope with the pain and obviously you never know whether there will be any medical complications. This approach allowed me to work on preparing my mind and body and strengthen it so that I could cope with the pain but it also left space to accept whatever would come so that I would not pressure myself in any way.
While our female body is designed to give birth we can do a whole lot to support it in its birthing capability with taking care of it, keeping it healthy and fit throughout pregnancy.
Here is a list of how I prepared for the birth marathon mentally and physically:
- Reading Positive Birth Stories
Besides selecting who and what I would listen to when people told me things about giving birth I also carefully selected what I would read on the internet and which books I would buy. I was never naïve thinking that giving birth is easy, but I made sure not to expose myself to negative stories about birth, but listen to people and read articles and books which would be realistic but empowering at the same time. Here are a few books, which I found helpful:
The Mindful Mom-to-Be by Lori Bregman
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May
Hypno Birthing The Mongan Method by Marie F. Mongan
- Staying Active
Staying active throughout pregnancy helped me to be fit physically for giving birth and kept me relaxed throughout pregnancy. Staying active for me included physical exercise, such as going for longer walks regularly, doing some cardio in the gym (until month 8), and practicing asanas (physical postures). It also ment to keep living my life (almost the same way) I was living it before. I kept going out, seeing friends, travelling…
I recommend any pregnant women to practice and learn about hypnobirthing as early as possible in the pregnancy. Hypnobirthing is thought to be used while giving birth, but I found that it helped me so much in staying relaxed throughout pregnancy as well. It is a method and educational process including breathing, relaxation, and visualization. There are hypnobirthing courses you can attend, as well as books, and audio courses you can find on the internet.
- Practicing Yoga, Meditation & Breathing Exercises
I continued my physical yoga practice until the very end of my pregnancy. I believe that keeping up with a regular yoga practice, which for me included asanas, meditation and breathing exercises largely contributed to my positive pregnancy and birth. It helped me deal with the physical challenges I had, to stay calm and to have some me-time on a regular basis. It also gave me a tool to connect to our baby, which is very supportive during birth. Me being able to connect to our baby during birth was a huge support and and gave me a lot of energy and motivation to keep going.
I picked a few sentences I would repeatedly say to myself in meditations, throughout the day, the days and weeks before giving before, and during birth.
Here are some of the affirmations I chose:
I am calm and relaxed and enjoy every stage of my pregnancy.
I am so grateful for this little life growing inside of me.
My body and me are made to do this.
Each contraction brings my baby closer to me.
I strongly recommend starting to prepare for birth very early and on a regular basis. This will assure you truly being prepared for it and internalizing what you have practiced. A strong mind and body need to be build up and can’t be reached within a very short period of time.
Giving birth is definitely challenging, but it is the most beautiful experience. Never before have I trusted and loved my body and myself as much as I do today. My body and me have accomplished the greatest thing in the most natural way possible to me.
Wishing you all the best for your pregnancy and birth journey,