By: Dana Jacbs, CNM
We all get caught up in planning our lives. It’s natural and it’s exciting. We start planning almost from the beginning, whether we realize it or not: what we want to be when we grow up, which college to attend, whether we want to marry, and of course when and if to have children. So it makes sense that we want to plan the delivery of our children. But while so much of the decision making in our lives is within our control, pregnancy, labor, and delivery involves a lot that is simply unpredictable.
The labor and delivery process is a force of biology, of nature. So trying to control it is like trying to control whether or not the sun shines, or that night follows day, or spring follows winter.
As a Certified Nurse Midwife, I have worked with thousands of women over the course of my career. And while each experience is different, there are two things about which I believe they all would agree: first, the birth of their child is something they never will forget, from the details of their contractions to the first moment they held their baby; second, it is just not possible to prepare for the level of endurance that is required.
So how can you prepare for labor and delivery? How can you prepare for a process that is unpredictable by its very nature? Here are some things to keep in mind:
• Learn a style of childbirth education
• Practice various ways of coping with the physical difficulty of delivery such as breathing and focusing.
• Follow the food and nutrition advice of your health-care provider, and exercise throughout your pregnancy. Yoga, for example, can be a wonderful way to teach yourself endurance and control.
• As your due date approaches drink lots of water and eat lots of healthy complex carbohydrates…just as if you were training to run a marathon. Your body will be relying on these stores of nutrients and liquids during labor and delivery.
• Avoid focusing on expectations. Don’t anticipate what might happen and let go of what already took place.
• Take one contraction at a time and stay in the moment.
• Try to let go of your fear…you have nothing to be afraid of.
Above all try to think of labor and delivery as a singular set of experiences, take control of what you can and let nature and your health-care provider work with you on the rest of it. Once your baby is in your arms your life and the life of your child begin anew.