Disclosure :: This post is sponsored by Nola Nesting.
Pregnant in New Orleans? – Learn where to go for labor and birth wherever you are!
The location of our labor is important, sure. We gain comfort from our surroundings and women need to feel safe and secure in their place of birth. Many women choose to labor at home for quite a long time and for a small percentage of women, they choose to birth at home. Home is usually where everyone is the most comfortable. We invest a lot of money and energy into creating this space in which we feel the most at ease. For most women, they will transfer to a hospital or birthing center to have their baby. In these cases care should be taken to assure that the woman is familiar with this space and small details like string lighting, aromatherapy, favorite pillows and blankets can be brought from home to help her feel the most ‘at home’ away from home.
“My doula was totally my anchor – I remember feeling completely grounded the moment that I wrapped my arm around her. She had provided me with great relational support so that being vulnerable with her was easy.” –Hailey
When a woman feels cared for and secure in her labor she is able to open herself to the universe and expose her vulnerability. Brene Brown teaches that through vulnerability we find power and strength, and that it is through vulnerability that we create. This could not be more evident than when a woman is in labor and births her baby. When the physical place is set, and this could just be her partner and doula grounding her, becoming an anchor to the world she knows so that she can confidently float away into the unknown, beautiful birth happens. The woman transcends all she knows of herself, as a good friend once said “I’d never been more in my own skin and outside of it.” She is beyond herself. But she is wholly, herself.
So where does she go? Where should you go in labor?
You go beyond yourself. You connect with your own primitive self, the essence of the birthing woman, you become connected to all the birthing women before you, their wisdom lies inside of us and is awakened in labor. When labor is seen as the journey of life, birth as the moment that connects us all, when fears are laid to rest and we feel safe – there are no predators, no threats – just the universe with open arms, it is then that we are able to open the most vulnerable parts of ourselves and through this vulnerability find depths of power and strength that surmount anything we knew of our abilities, our spirituality, our being.
Women have shared their stories with me and I am always in awe of how differently, yet similarly women experience this. A few women who have found comfort and their faith have told me that they felt close to God, that they were near the heavens and knew they could continue walking through their labor.
One of my favorites is a woman who described to me that she felt like a roaring tiger, but no tiger we know. A mythical beast, deep in a cave flooded with the starlight of entire universes. “I didn’t know where I was, or where it went, but I roared and journeyed. When I felt scared I remembered I was a tiger and this was my cave.”
I have labored with women who had a more concrete experience of this, seeing themselves in a competition, often with themselves. I love this too. They are moving beyond what they know of themselves, cheering on this new part of them that can surpass all they have known their abilities to be. One of my favorite vocalizations of this was the mantra “I’m going to kick labor’s ass.” She did.
For myself, in my second labor, this was black space. I was deep inside of me, but beyond me. I often picture places in my brain, my thoughts, as actual physical things. For example, I store foreign language in a drawer that I’m hoping to organize soon. The day’s agenda, a pin board. So, this place beyond myself was in my head, a region of myself I had not visited before. I didn’t go to this place in my first labor. I never made it beyond my body, beyond what I knew of me. I did have a natural vaginal birth, but I didn’t have the experience that I had heard about and I really didn’t know why. I know now. I didn’t feel safe, and I didn’t allow myself to be vulnerable. I remained guarded and fought tooth and nail for my birth. Fighting for my right to labor, my right to continue, to prove my labor – these concrete things were important, but did not allow me to go beyond. Rather than an anchor to allow me to float away, these anchors kept my feet on the ground and ultimately tethered my birthing soul, silencing the ancient wisdom of women before me.
So, how do you find your way to this place?
You practice vulnerability. You open yourself to the unknown. You become educated about birth and address any fears or concerns you have. You build your birth circle so that this team of yours can hold space for you and let you be confident in your vulnerability and knowledge that at the end of this journey, you will return with your baby in arms. You choose a health care provider that is not tolerant of your birth wishes, but is supportive and understands the importance of this journey and what his/her role is in caring for you so that you can continue on.
We live in a fast paced world. I challenge you to slow down in your pregnancy. Allow your baby not only nutrition and a place to grow, but space and time to grow. Hold space for yourself and this baby. This is an intimate time to enjoy together, his soul and body filling your own. Practice relaxation and learn to identify what helps you most relax, taking a childbirth class will help you do this. Allow your thoughts to transcend what you know.
We have a culture of sick-care. Change this for yourself. Practice wellness care. Seek out massage, acupuncture, chiropractic care, therapy, reiki – whatever speaks to you and your body needs. Allow yourself to be nourished and nurtured. This will help your body prepare for your baby in the most physical way by helping your baby take a great birthing position and by helping you feel the most comfortable in your pregnancy. Perhaps more importantly, this will help you prepare for labor by creating a greater appreciation for all you are and the incredible vessel that is your body. When our bodies are well our minds can invest more energy in thoughts beyond the physical.