While in the midst of preparing for birth, you’ve heard the warnings. To the uncomfortable person who’s 39 weeks pregnant in the summer heat — “Just wait until you go into labor!” To the pregnant person having a hard time sleeping — “Just wait until the baby’s here! Then you’ll really know what it’s like to be sleep-deprived!” Our words are powerful. Our words matter. Especially to people in a vulnerable state. And I wanted to explain a little more about why, beyond just the obviously cringe-worthy examples. It’s more significant than just simply being something rude people say.
We can acknowledge that most of the warnings come from a well-meaning place. Especially when someone has past experience with something, they feel it’s their duty to “be real” about what’s coming, lest the pregnant person be unpleasantly surprised. Even from within the birthing community there are different philosophies regarding childbirth preparation. Hypnobabies uses a set of language with a more positive association than the typical words used to describe childbirth. (“Pressure wave” instead of “contraction,” for example.) Many people find this language shift inconvenient, unnecessary, and some even believe it to be dishonest, unfortunately. However, I believe the commitment to positive change is fully worth it. That’s because of the total shift in conscious mindset that is occurring. It’s not so much that a desired result happens because the language shifts, but rather when the conscious mind begins to focus on the desired result, the positive language comes naturally.
Another question people have about this philosophy is what if my outcome is totally different than what I’m envisioning? Although Hypnobabies highlights the benefits of a “high-touch, low-tech” birth and the midwifery model of care, our preparation also emphasizes that each person can be empowered to make the choices that are best for themselves and their babies. Healthy and safe birth is a very basic need.
***Sadly, we know that reproductive healthcare in the U.S. is failing, particularly for black and brown bodies. The road map for improving birth for all, is in some ways much simpler than we’ve made it: trauma-informed care, compassionate and autonomous experiences for each pregnant person, and a high-touch, low-tech philosophy with swift access to more advanced care, such as surgical birth and NICU, if complications arise.***
So what does all of this have to do with warnings? Let’s take the example of preparing to run in a 10K race. Your coach says to you, “Race day is going to be very hot and muggy. You’re going to be extremely uncomfortable during the majority of the race and it’s going to feel impossible to finish. Don’t listen to that voice. Keep going. Around the mile 4 mark, you’re going to be vulnerable to injury so you’ll need to prepare for ankle or knee pain.”
Warnings like this go into a tailspin. Would you feel pumped to run this race?
There is very little difference between this type of “coaching” and the messages that we receive about childbirth. “It’s going to suck but you’ll get through it.” Seemingly innocent and innocuous but it’s these statements that leave us terrified to give birth and producing a “fight or flight” response daily, which over time can become physically harmful to ourselves and our babies. So I say let’s try to strike a balance between giving accurate information that helps us truly prepare and feel ready rather than overwhelmed or frozen by fear. Using the race day example:
- Hot temperatures are forecast for race day and dehydration can become an issue. If you hydrate adequately before, during, and after the race, you’re less likely to experience ill effects from the heat. Adequate hydration = X amount
- Discomfort while running can take various forms, depending on the runner. Here are a couple of steps you can take to minimize discomfort:
- Get fitted for proper footwear by someone knowledgeable about the sport of running.
- Bring a sports physical therapist onto your team for an evaluation. Tips and treatment go a long way in preparing for a great race day experience.
- You can expect to feel inspired and supported by the positive atmosphere which keeps you going strong when the going gets tough!
This can translate to some really helpful childbirth tips like:
- The process of birth depends on many factors and is a unique experience for each parent and baby.
- Pregnancy and birth carry risk, however many pregnancies and births are low-risk. If risk becomes elevated, there is a range of medical and non-medical options. Let’s sort through it together so you can decide what feels best for you. Deciding whether to intervene or to wait can be tricky, but most childbirth risks are not emergencies so there’s usually time to discuss.
- Your birth team will be here for you every step of the way to keep you feeling encouraged!
- Normal newborn behavior is: XYZ. Here are some forms of support that can be incredibly helpful as your baby moves through their developmental milestones.
Check out my Hypnobabies class series to learn a comprehensive approach to feeling positive about your birthing day!