An Exercise: Being Strong in Labor

This exercise was created by Virginia Bobro, formerly of Birthing From Within and Pam England. Check out Pam England's new book: Ancient Map for Modern Birth, or a local Birthing From Within class for more juicy exercises. This exercise was adapted by Cat Ennis Sears, BFW mentor, for the RD Blog.

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When you're pregnant, a lot of things can alert your worry muscle. Maybe you've heard birth stories from others, things you'd like to avoid, and you are thinking of how you would want things to go differently. Maybe you're worried about your support options, logistics, or needing medical support that you were hoping to avoid. 

Sometimes, we get into a state of avoidance. We put our fingers in our ears (positive birth stories only, please!) with the hope that blocking out the thought of unwished for events will prevent these things from occurring. While it's true that fear is not helpful in labor and birth, and adrenaline can decrease natural birth hormones that make labor safer and more efficient, the act of total avoidance (trying to avoid fear at all costs) paradoxically arises from a place of fear. And completely avoiding the thought of unwished for events does not decrease the likelihood of those events occurring, but does increase the likelihood that you will be unprepared for those events, should they occur.

A positive visualization of how you would like your birth experience to go, without qualifiers and without "if's" and "but's" is the first step toward trusting birth. It's important to know what your ideal birth would look like, what you are hoping for, what your dreams and goals are. Visualization is a powerful tool that evidence suggests actually changes our brains, and can in fact change outcomes.

So go ahead and visualize your ideal birth, without qualifiers, without "if's" and "but's."

Next, I invite you to go one step further in your preparation for birth, and visualize not only your perfect birth, but visualize something unexpected happening. And (this is the important step) don't stop there: visualize how you and your support people will cope with that unexpected event. Visualize yourself being strong and present, giving birth in awareness, being there for the moment, no matter what happens. What, specifically, would help you cope with something you were hoping to avoid? Is it a prayer, is it holding your partner's hand, is it closing your eyes, playing a specific song, or just focusing on your breathing? Close your eyes and see yourself doing that thing.

Birth is unpredictable. Our bodies are fallible. And if something unwished for does occur, it does not mean you did something wrong, or weren't prepared enough, or should have done this or that differently. You can truly trust birth and postpartum when you know that you have coping resources you can pull on, should an unwished for event occur. This is a deeper kind of trust.

Being Strong in Labor

With your partner or support person...

Each of you fold your paper in half twice (once horizontally, once vertically) so the fold-lines make four quadrants. 

In the first quarter: Draw the first image that comes to mind when you think of being strong in labor.

The second drawing: Draw being strong in a long, prolonged labor.

The third drawing: Being strong in a cesarean birth.

The fourth: Being strong in... [choose a situation that is personally powerful to you, something that you are working to avoid]. 

Share your images with your partner.

Did anything surprise you? Was there anything you hesitated to draw? Did not want to draw? The takeaway is that we are often much stronger than we realize. And, in my mind, all of this is already within us. In some ways, this is an exercise in intention.

 

Nathaniel: A Birth Story

Nathaniel: A Birth Story

Yesterday, Shea heard his brother's heartbeat. He said, "my brother," and put his hands on my stomach. He smiled shyly and wanted to hear the heartbeat "again." I'm so excited for them to meet each other.

Nathaniel Ashe Sears, 7 pounds, 14 ounces, born December 19, 2014 at 4:14 p.m.

He holds his tiny hands up to the glass and says, “There, Mommy, I want to eat there!” Inside is a pool hall, completely inappropriate for a toddler. “No, Shea, just one more door down.” I drag him into Ipanema. I don’t know it yet, but active labor will start in less than 12 hours. I wanted to take Shea out for dinner, just me and him, knowing that the time of his being an only child is getting shorter. I am having near constant Braxton-Hicks contractions that don’t stop when I sit down, stand up, walk, lay down, take a bath, drink water, or anything. They are just constant, lasting for 2-3 minutes with a 30 second break in between and it’s been that way for 2 days. It’s exhausting but I try to ignore my too tight abdomen as I pick Shea up and carry him through the door of Ipanema. I am expecting to go past my due date on this one too, and I don’t take any contractions seriously. Only if they are deep low, and getting longer, stronger, closer together. I decide, only then will I pay attention. Thinking back, I realize how almost heroic it is that I went out for dinner alone with a two-year-old while I was in actual early labor.

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Guest Post: The Six Words that Changed Everything: AKA Why I Became a Doula

Guest Post: The Six Words that Changed Everything: AKA Why I Became a Doula

When I found out I was pregnant, it was not by surprise. That’s what conceiving via intrauterine insemination (IUI) will get you—thinking about nothing but getting pregnant every minute of the day from the moment you decided you were ‘ready’ to have a baby 2 years ago (those of who have been through infertility can understand this new kind of crazy).

What was a little bit of a surprise; however, was that once I was given the clear from our fertility doctor to move on to normal prenatal care, the choice of provider was up to me. Wait, you mean there are choices? My go-to plan was to find an Obstetrician (OB) who my friends and family recommended. But then I learned of a friend’s experience with a Midwife group, and that’s when everything changed.

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Guest Post: Why Moms Make the Worst Clients, and Why I’ll Never Stop Training Them.

Guest Post: Why Moms Make the Worst Clients, and Why I’ll Never Stop Training Them.

I’ve been a Personal Trainer at a gym for over 8 years. After having my first child 4 years ago, I saw how different my body was and took a course in Pre and Post-Natal Fitness with the goal to help other moms through those changes. Little did I know Moms would become some of my favorite yet worst clients. See, Personal Trainers only get paid after they train a session with a client, and I soon saw my paycheck take a hit. Here’s why…

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Birth Story: Lauren Patterson

Birth Story: Lauren Patterson

My Sweet Poppy,

Here I am with only one week left until your first birthday, and I’m finally sitting down to write your birth story. It’s not that this is something I haven’t thought about. Trust me, I’ve thought about it literally every single day. I always knew that the story of how you came into this world was something that I wanted to spend time capturing, so we would never ever forget a single detail. I think how I feel about your birth and how I feel about being your mom is so overwhelming that it’s been hard to actually sit down and do it. Your birth is the single most monumental event in my life and always will be. Here it goes...

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Birth Story: Brandy Buckel

Birth Story: Brandy Buckel

Brandy Buckel shares her inspirational birth story in this week's blog post. We thought it was beautiful to read! Thank you, Brandy, for allowing us to share your story with the world!

If you'd like to share your birth story on the RD blog, please email it to us at rdoulas@gmail.com, along with a few photos. We are looking for all kinds of birth stories to help normalize any kind of birthing experience in RVA!

Being a plus sized girl, when I was pregnant I was already overweight. I was 4'11 at 185lbs and wore a size 16. I didn't care about my weight when thinking about how I wanted to labor; it wasn't even an issue but I found out quick while at my first visit to the birthing center that weight DOES matter. I was told if my BMI hit 50 I wouldn't be able to labor at the center. I KNEW i wouldn't hit that but it still kind of hurt to hear.

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Guest Post: Music Therapy and Birth

Guest Post: Music Therapy and Birth

Guest Post: Music Therapy and Birth
by: Megan Martin, MA, MT-BC
Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth Clinician
megan@healingsoundsrva.com
(804) 244-0193
Healing Sounds RVA

Imagine this: you're pregnant and you're nervous. Maybe you're nervous about labor and delivery. Maybe you're nervous about bonding with your baby. Maybe, you've heard stories about birth and newborn babies that have made you afraid. Pregnancy. Birth. Newborns. These are all words that bring enormous amounts of excitement and an enormous amount of fear to women. There are a lot of resources and strategies available for women these days to help you have a healthy pregnancy, a low-intervention birth, and support in those first months post-partum. One resource is not as well known- music therapy.

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Forget Self Love and the Truth about the Superwoman You Already Are

Forget Self Love and the Truth about the Superwoman You Already Are

Mothers and women, this one is for you!

No sleep, weary to the point of tears, stained shirt, messy bun, piles of dishes and laundry. The kids calling you every time you go to sit or eat. In fact, when was the last time you ate? Showered? What on earth happened to your other sock?

People like to talk about motherhood as beautiful, angelic, where you look amazing in leggings, messy bun, and still find time to put on a smidge of makeup. Not everyone will talk about the time you realize you only shaved one leg in the shower, and forgot the knee cap on the other leg. Or how your oldest child mentions the dark circles under your eyes.

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Day in the Life of a Postpartum Doula

Day in the Life of a Postpartum Doula

What do postpartum doulas do? You can read about the benefits here and if you’re interested in becoming one, there is a great training coming to Richmond in November. But what might a typical 3-4 hour shift look like?

This entry describes a typical four hour day shift in the life of a postpartum doula. Overnights are very different! Stay tuned for "Night in the Life of a Postpartum Doula."

*This is a fictional client to protect privacy.*

My client’s baby is six days old and she has two older girls, a five year old and a three year old. I met her prenatally for an hour to get to know her, to meet her girls and to get familiar with her house and where everything is. She signed up for a twenty hour package. When her new baby boy is born, she emails me a picture and I send her congratulations and a list of my availability for the coming month. She picks out five shifts of four hours each.

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What to Expect at a Meet the Doulas Event

What to Expect at a Meet the Doulas Event

So maybe you've heard that Richmond Doulas is hosting our quarterly Meet the Doulas on August 31 at Richmond OB/GYN from 6:30-8:00. Maybe you are a curious expectant family, or maybe you are a doula who has never attended one of these events before. Are you wondering what to expect? This blog post will answer questions that both families and doulas may have about this fun event that RD sponsors four times a year! Maybe you'll decide to mark it down on your calendar and come on out to sit with us in person and learn

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