Stress. Sleeplessness. Reflux. Tension headaches. Posterior. Breech.
Any of these terms sound familiar?
Any of the above can be worrisome for expectant mamas. If you’re in your third trimester, these things (and more) can be particularly troubling. Dealing with the stressors of daily life combined with the prospect of a long, difficult delivery can be enough to make any mom throw her hands up in overwhelmed exasperation. Maybe this is your first baby and you just want “everything to go right.” Maybe this is a subsequent baby after experiencing a challenging or traumatic birth in your past. Maybe you’ve experienced loss and the thought of anything occurring outside your carefully crafted plan puts you right back into that painful time – where you had no control.
During our current social and political climate it can be even harder to find yourself grounded during pregnancy and delivery. The world may seem topsy-turvy, the future uncertain. How can you bring a baby into a world you yourself don’t feel secure in? Difficult home situations, financial hardship, and relationship struggles can add pounds to an already heavy burden.
So you may be thinking, “Yes, all of that is true. But babies are born during stressful situations all the time. What’s the big deal?” While that is accurate – babies have and will continue to be born during all kinds of less than ideal circumstances – it still IS a big deal for mama to feel safe when bringing baby earthside. Mothers experiencing intense stress such as described above (even subconsciously worrying about things like a huge impending election) often experience many challenges. These can range from the “basic” (back labor) to the more serious (breech baby, going post-dates, or the all too common “failure to progress” during labor). Anecdotally, birth professionals regularly see a higher incidence of breech birth presentation, lengthy labors, and unplanned cesarean sections after laboring during times of social and political unrest or upheaval in the mother’s life.
What can be done? While we can’t change the occurrence of large-scale political unrest, social struggle, or sometimes even broken relationships, we can acknowledge the body of work ahead of us and plan for it. As a mom, ultimately your goal may simply be to bring your baby into this world as safely as possible. In that pursuit, keeping YOU safe and secure is just as important as the safety of baby. Mental health is as vital component in this as good nutrition.
As your due date approaches, consider some of the following suggestions in preparing for your ideal birth experience. There’s more to prepare than your hospital bag!
- Practice mindfulness. Check in with yourself daily on an emotional and mental level. How are you feeling? Are fear, anxiety, worry, or stress prevalent?
- Journal what you’re thinking and feeling. Take negative thought patterns and specific fears and get them OUT of you by getting them ONTO paper. Considering tearing out these pages and shredding or burning them as a physical manifestation of you symbolically letting them go.
- Practice EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique (especially helpful when you’re still processing past traumas being triggered by pregnancy or delivery)
- Use an app such as GentleBirth for guided meditations & hypnosis specific to the point in pregnancy you’re at.
- Surround yourself with positive affirmations you connect with. Put post-it notes around your home, get beautiful prints like these from Etsy, or make your own (find lots of inspiration on our ABW Pinterest)
- Make sure to hydrate, eat, and rest. Put a visual such as a rubber band on your water bottle and move it each time to take a sip. Set a goal alarm on your phone to finish one glass of water every so many hours to keep up. Waterlogged is a great app to help your hydration.
- Chiropractic care with a provider specializing in expectant mothers. Chiropractors can work wonders not just for the body, but also for moms experiencing stress, malpositioned babies, or “stuck” emotions.
- Prenatal massage with a provider specializing in expectant mothers.*
- Visit Spinning Babies to learn about optimal fetal positioning – OFP – and simple exercises you can do to encourage a posterior (sunny side up) baby to turn or a breech baby to flip. Spinning Babies can also assist with compound presentation (babies presenting with their hand or arm by their face). OFP can often shorten your labor, help or eliminate the dreaded “back labor”, and encourage more productive contractions during labor – helping to avoid “failure to progress” or stalled labor and subsequent cesarean sections.
- Unplug. Social media has become an integral part of daily life. Consider temporarily taking social media apps off your phone and only checking in through your computer once or twice a day during your home stretch – aprox. 37-42 weeks. Give yourself a time you turn off your phone in the evenings and stick to it so you have a chance to decompress before bed.
- Put yourself on a “need to know basis”. If you don’t need to know RIGHT NOW, save it for after your birth. Avoid reading the news for the final weeks in your pregnancy and request that your spouse or partner skip the sordid details of the latest tragedy.
- Find your voice and request that no one share their traumatic birth experiences with you right now. End conversations that make your blood pressure start to rise. Put a hedge around your mind and emotions and a sign on your proverbial gate that says “Good vibes only”!
- Consider hiring a doula. Having competent, professional, compassionate support during your pregnancy and delivery is worth it’s weight in gold. Doulas can help reframe difficult situations, suggest coping techniques during your labor, and create a safe space for you to process. Moms who hire doulas are more likely to experience shorter labors, shorter pushing stages, receive fewer interventions, and are more satisfied with their birth experience as a whole even when it did not go according to plan. Click here to contact me for more info on my doula work!
Put yourself first for a few weeks, mamas. It’s okay to be selfish right now. You are doing the most important work! Healthy mama means healthy in body, mind, and spirit. The greatest gift you can give your baby is taking care of yourself. You cannot pour from an empty pitcher. Fill yourself, so that you may flow abundantly for your little one soon.
*Note – If your massage therapist practices aromatherapy, make sure to inquire if they have also received certification as a clinical aromatherapist or are under the direct supervision of one. Essential oils are real plant medicine and when used improperly, can cause severe reactions ranging from skin rashes, sensitization, chemical burns, blood clotting issues, breathing difficulty, headaches, nausea, and more. For more information on the safe use of essential oils during pregnancy, birth, and beyond, please visit Using Essential Oils Safely on facebook or the writings of Robert Tisserand