Posts tagged Family
10 Secrets to an Enjoyable Labor

1. Connect

With your body, with you baby, with those important in this process. How?

Daily walks can be so peaceful, they help make you in tune you with this new form, an extra perk is feeling that babe sway in your belly. Get on your yoga mat place your hands on your belly connect, savor these moments of unison between the two of you. Come to know that little one through your body.

Also make valuable bonds with those that will be present at the birth, you must feel safe and connected to each person present.

2. Be open, Be honest

This is so important! Allow yourself to be true, if there’s fear allow it to be heard. Tell you partner everything your feeling about birth and pregnancy. Allow yourself to get to know your midwife or obgyn on a more personal level if possible. You want to feel comfortable when laboring, so now is the time to make the foundation for trust and openness.

If all else fails in this area, hire a doula they're made for you to be able to be open and honest with.

3. Upbuild

Surround yourself in the ones that believe in you and what you want for your birth. Don't give energy to those that do anything but upbuild what you want on that day! You need to feel like a goddess going into this, you need to feel you are nothing but strong. You need A team just as focused on the choices you've made for your birth, so when it comes you can be confident. Even if things “go awrye” from that plan, well then you’ll have your up builders right there to keep you going.

4. Comfort

Be it your home, at a birth center, or hospital, you need comfort. Find essential oils that calm you, get a soundtrack of calming nature, or a personal favorite of my husband and I’s is a making a playlist of songs we've accumulated over my pregnancy, make an affirmation banner (this helped me tremendously to stay centered in my second birth), these things will center you of why you are here, and they can also make a lovely keepsake afterwards. 

5. Savor

During early labor, enjoy it, this can easily apply to those last weeks too (especially if your labor is quick), spend time with your partner. Get yummy take out, lay in the sunshine together, finish or make a playlist, the later is a personal favorite as we would add a few songs to our birth playlist in the easy moments of labor. Watch a comedy, enjoy laughter. 

These moments will allow your body to do what it needs and the more relaxed you are, the better. Don't allow yourself to want it to be over too soon, you’ll look back with fondness if you get a little sentimental with it. Be present.

6. Accommodate You

Theres nothing that'll make things harder if you’re not taking care of yourself and your baby. Don't feel obligated to have visitors during this time, after all you are in labor. If someone in the room is making you feel uncomfortable, don't feel bad for asking them to leave, its okay. Its important you feel at ease, even if it hurts others feelings at the time. I personally noticed in my first birth I had too many people too soon, it made me feel as I needed to perform and that in the end stalled things. So have the ones you need, follow your intuition.

7. Surrender

You cannot run from birth, you cannot fight birth, you are here, this is now, you are doing one of the most magnificent things you will accomplish in your life. Bring out your inner strength, allow this strength to be with your baby and body, you are strong enough. Let the waves (the contractions) carry you, know you'll come to the surface, you'll succeed.

"With my second birth I fought the waves in the beginning, they were uncomfortable and tiring. But I realized I cannot fight the tide (labor) they are coming whether I like it or not. I surrendered and it felt so good, it was still an effort, still hard, but much easier at the same time."

8. Embrace support

Allow your partner to be there for you, maybe you wont want his touch, or maybe you'll want a full on massage 24/7, but embrace the strength found in your birth partner. 

9. Together


 Laugh together.

 Be strong together.  

Find THAT thing, “that” thing that helps you progress to the finish line, the thing that makes you open up allowing your baby to make its way to you.

10. Inner voice

It's so easy to become more and more vocal. But if you can, bring that energy into deep inward moans, find a mantra to mumble, it will allow your body to do much good, and also your energy level will also appreciate it. I figured out the magic of this and stillness with my second birth and its like gold to me now!

The after

YOU DID IT! Now is now… my last piece of advice is when you’ve got that beautiful babe don't feel rushed to share this moment. Bask in it. You have every right to this, every reason to be just you and your little family in these moments after. Be skin to skin, inculcate your bonds in these moments. There is time, everyone will meet this new little one. But first take care, of yourself, of your baby, of this moment.

Happy birthing.

Journalist:  Michelle Findley

Sharing the Load

The first time he prepared my coffee was on the morning of our five year wedding anniversary. Our daughter was two, our son had just been born a few weeks earlier, it was nearing the end of the fall semester - one of the more overwhelming times on the academic calendar to which our family is beholden. We had no plans to celebrate until later that month, no gifts for each other, but his simple act of kindness was gift enough that morning for this sleep-deprived mother: a hot, steaming cup of creamy coffee perfection, waiting for me right at the table.

The best mornings now start when he gets my coffee ready. It's "my" coffee for several reasons, the most obvious being that he doesn't drink coffee - abhors the taste, hesitates to kiss me after I've had my cup. But he knows how much it's like a warm hug to me in the morning, to hold that cup in my hands as the day begins.

It was purely an act of love for him to learn the process: boil the water, grind the beans, measure it out, let it steep for no more than 5 minutes, pour, add cream. And it's an act of love each time he prepares it for me and there's a hot cup ready and waiting like a love note in the morning. It doesn't happen every morning, and I'm glad for that - I have a habit of taking things for granted. This isn’t one.

We struggle to give gifts like this in other ways. When we were still engaged, an older couple that we both admired had us over for dinner one night. They had two children who were right in the sweet spot years - not yet teenagers, but well beyond the preschool years, able to self-entertain. We loved watching the way this couple worked together, how they seemed energized by each other and so grateful for one another and their life. They were complete opposites in so many ways, much like us: he, a fun and funny but straightforward thinker: systematic, organized. She, a total flower child: loud with laughter, bright with personality, easygoing with love and by all appearances not tied down with a schedule.

We asked about what it was like to be married, specifically how they divided household tasks between them. I hadn't even quite thought about how we would do this, but since my husband and I both seemed like energetic people at the time, I assumed we would see what chores needed to be done and just complete them on an as-needed basis. Chore charts, assigned tasks, all of that - it seemed rather silly and a little too OCD for me, a Type B woman.

But our friends surprised me when they suggested a predetermined division of household chores.

"It should be clear whose responsibility it is to empty the trash, do the laundry, do dishes," they said.

Their reasoning then still sticks with me to this day:

"When it's not clear where the division of responsibility is, you can end up getting in more arguments. And," they added, "clear division of household chores allows you to choose to serve one another."

It’s serving each other with gifts in the form of noticing when the laundry needs to be done, and doing it on behalf of the person to whom it has been assigned instead of complaining that it hasn’t been done. Gifts in the form of not complaining when the trash hasn't been taken out (again), but choosing instead to lay down ourselves and sometimes even our justified grievances and take it out. Gifts in the form of laying aside one's own preferences for alone time to pitch in with yard work. Aim to outdo each other with service.

It all sounds lovely and beautiful, as it did that evening, but we are not exactly the poster couple for the "serve each other" movement. Not even close. We get in arguments sometimes, and I expect to some degree we always will. They’ve grown fewer and farther between over the years. We still try to stake our claim on our rights instead of choosing to think of one another first. The hope is that we'll grow in that, too. Honest conversations are healthy, good, and productive - we need to express feelings before they boil over, but we also have to assume each other’s best intentions.

But each step, each small thing done with great love, as Mother Teresa would call them, counts. One time, I mowed the yard with a baby on my back. Several times he starts the laundry and finishes it all the way through to being put away, enlisting our daughter to help him. He starts the dishwasher; I empty it. We alternate which child we put to bed each night, but occasionally we each step in and take on the challenge of both so that one of us has an evening to breathe or recover. (Ok - not all of the tasks feel like small things all the time. Putting two children to bed can feel pretty monumental, actually. Solidarity, mamas and daddies.)

I tape white index cards near the laundry hamper and near the sink. On them, in black Sharpie, is written the word “grace”. Grace: favor or goodwill toward one another. It can go both ways. It can look like making a conscious effort to get your dishes into the dishwasher (hey there, honey!). It can also look like choosing to turn a blind eye when someone has forgotten to put them in the dishwasher, and filling in the gap for them. It can be getting the clothes into the clothes hamper and it can be choosing to pick up the handful of socks that almost made it in...without complaining. It often involves reminding each other that we are on the same team. Always.

We are in the middle of the trench years, the ones that pull and tug at our every last thread of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional energy. There will be a lot of expectations to which we won’t measure up. What I hope my children see the most, however, is how we choose to love each other in this space, how we choose to share the load. I want them to see that love is not about taking, but giving. That it’s not about complaining, but appreciating. That it’s not necessarily about being nice, but being gently truthful with your partner when things are hard and you just haven’t had time to keep up with the piles and piles of laundry, or mow the yard, or get the oil changed in the car or sweep up the Cheerios that have been under the high chair for the past week. That love is not about demanding, but serving. It will always look like putting a bit of yourself down to lift the other up. Love may even look like serving hot cups of a beverage that makes your loved one’s mouth less than kissable, just because seeing the smile on their face makes it totally, totally worth it.

Journalist:  Catherine Gordon