Thursday, July 24, 2014

5 Bible-based Ways to Prepare Your Mind for Natural Labor

If you're getting ready to have a baby and looking for a Christian perspective on labor preparation, you've come to the right place!

About halfway into my first pregnancy I decided I wanted to have an out of hospital, non-medicated birth. Unfortunately, we didn't have the time (or energy) to take a birth class but we still wanted me to be prepared.  I found lots of info for preparing physically, but not much on the mental/emotional side - and what I did find was often a bit new-age for my taste. (I know what I look like first thing in the morning and I am no mother-goddess ...)  If you are looking for a more holistic, Bible-based approach to labor, keep reading for the 5 things I discovered you can do to prepare! 




1) Renew your mind 
 The greatest enemy to a peaceful childbirth is the fear of pain. It seems like every depiction of childbirth in film and television involves a woman screaming likemad in the midst of total chaos, but it doesn't have to be that way.  Yes, the process of giving birth does involve pain, but they way you respond to it makes a HUGE difference in your experience. I always thought I had a low pain tolerance but I realized that I'm not a wuss when I'm in pain, I just had a borderline irrational fear of it. I associated pain with danger or something being wrong.  Birth is intense, but a beautiful and natural thing - so I worked to disassociate pain with something being wrong. I prayed that God would take that fear away and for as little pain as possible, read tons of positive birth stories, and watched peaceful birth videos until my expectation and dread of pain in childbirth diminished. While laboring, I focused on the incredible thing my body was accomplishing instead of the pain and it really helped! The contractions felt like very strong menstrual cramps and honestly didn't hurt as much as I had anticipated, they were just very uncomfortable.



Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

2) Learn to relax 
  Relaxing has never come easily to me.  I have an over-active brain with no off-switch, and tend to soak up tension from my environment like a sponge. That said, after lots of practice, I learned how to really, truly relax (it only took 30 years). Relaxation is a learnable skill. Take the time to figure out what relaxes you, discuss it with your birth partner and practice, practice, practice. For me it was a combination of breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, tethering my thoughts, and creating a calm environment with dim lighting and soothing music. Once I learned how to relax in an ideal environment, it became easier and easier to relax in stressful environments (Does that come in handy now that I have two young boys!)



Psalms 55:22 (NLT)

Give your burdens to the lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

3) Build your endurance 
  As a first-time mom, the fear of the unknown was a big factor in how I prepared for natural labor.  After all, how do you prepare for something you've never experienced and know little about?  A friend of mine suggested using an ice cube to simulate contractions.  Once I was good and relaxed, hubs would hold an ice cube on my back and leave it there for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. This helped me learn to breathe through the discomfort and get used to the duration and timing of contractions.  

Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
4) Know and discuss your priorities, but stay flexible
   Plan what you can, but also be prepared to adapt.  If you read my birth story, you know that labor and delivery did not go as planned.  In hindsight, I should have read up on C-sections more during pregnancy.  I didn't bother because I just knew we were having a natural water birth and figured it didn't apply to us. Unfortunately, Z decided to be sunny-side up with his head cocked to the side and after several hours, we had to get an emergency C-section. Hubs and I had discussed our priorities if there were an emergency, though. I wanted him in the OR with me, I wanted to be totally lucid for the procedure, and I wanted to breastfeed and have skin-to-skin contact ASAP. Because we had discussed our priorities ahead of time, we were able to make decisions more quickly and Hubs knew what was important to me and was able to advocate for it when I was busy laboring.

Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)

We can make our plans, but the lord determines our steps.

4) Know your motivation
   Not focusing on the pain/discomfort is much easier said than done.  It's always easier to focus on something rather than to not focus on something - so focus your thoughts on the incredible miracle that is taking place. When I was laboring, I asked Hubs to read one birth affirmation per contraction and encourage me with it until the contraction ended. This really helped as it gave me something new to focus on each time and renewed my strength (mentally, at least)

Romans 8:18 (NLT)

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

5) Pray
I saved the best for last. Pray for your labor and your baby. God created the little life inside you and He will be with you through the whole process. If you haven't prayed in a while, now is a great time to start. Hubs prayed for me throughout labor and delivery and it was such an encouragement. I also listened to worship music, which relaxed me and reminded me that I wasn't laboring in my own strength. This was a God-ordained moment in time and I knew He would see me through - and He did!

Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

How are you preparing for your labor? What techniques have helped you prepare in the past?  Leave a comment and let me know! 


3 comments:

  1. Ohh i really liked your post I wish there had been some comments down here for more affirmation I can do this! 36 weeks...and coming fast.

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  2. I love this! My due date is tomorrow and I was looking for something to help me spiritually prepare, this is exactly what i needed to get started. Thank you so much!

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  3. Thank you for writing this!💞

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