Having a baby is definitely not simple.
In fact nothing about having kids is simple: pregnancy, labor, and then the logistics of raising, loving, caring for, teaching a little person are all just complicated.
Unfortunately, many people in our circles often don’t think to prepare for a baby – except, maybe, with birthing classes — and then find themselves suddenly inundated with the labor of love that is parenting (because, no, labor does NOT end when your baby is born… it’s just a different kind of labor 😉)
The great thing is that I’ve found that pre-birth learning and labor management techniques (which is what most of us DO learn!) actually prove to be perfect in helping me and my clients be the calm mothers we want to be – at least most of the time.
And that’s because the #1 struggle of motherhood is all from our heads.
It’s all in your head
It’s about our mind-body connection. Anyone who’s familiar with Innate Health or life coaching will be familiar with the concept that: Our thoughts create our reality.
What happens is that Hashem is sending thoughts into our heads constantly. Constantly. Some thoughts we choose to believe and grab on to, and others we don’t.
The tricky thing about these thoughts is that they’re totally subjective, and are often false — but look really real. And that means that our “objective reality” is really not objective at all – it’s subject to the parade of true/untrue thoughts that march through our brains.
When we grab onto a thought and ride with it, it’ll make us feel a certain way — uplifted, upset, betrayed, loved, etc.
Our thoughts create our feelings which create our perspective on the circumstances of our lives.
So let’s take a generic example: Let’s say you live in lovely Chicago (which I do, so if you live in one of those places where it’s unseasonably warm year-round just believe me on this one, kay?), and you have to walk somewhere when it’s a frigid 10 degrees. (Which, yes, I’ve done. I’ve actually done colder than that.)
What’s fascinating is that as long as I’m noticing the cold — it’s cold. REALLY cold.
But, as soon as I, say, stop to schmooze with a friend, and am thinking about something entirely different, the cold disappears.
So let’s talk about some great labor and pregnancy techniques that you can use to make your motherhood better.
Letting Go and Mental Shifts
We all have things that we believe to be absolutely true. Sometimes they’re subconscious, and sometimes we’re very aware of them, but they’re there and informing our actions and reactions, decisions, perspectives and life as we know it.
And it can be sneaky because sometimes we don’t even realize that those beliefs are there. They can be things like I’m not a good enough mother or I don’t know what I’m doing or something a little deeper like I’m a failure or I’m never good enough or My [fill in family member here] won’t love me if I don’t do [action].
And these thoughts can be super tricky because they come up at the worst of times – when things get tough.
I know that this is something many mothers deal with before their baby is born. If you want to have a pleasant labor (yes, I did just put those two words together!), you’re going to have to let go of the false beliefs that will hold you back from making that happen. Since any kind of tension during labor will make things more painful and slower, working on letting go of your fears of a long, painful labor before the baby even comes.
Once your baby is born and growing up, and you’re dealing with the day-in-day-out tough stuff, it can be so so helpful to ground yourself and remind yourself that it’s just a thought. You can choose to hold onto it and believe it, or you can choose to let go and believe something else.
It was the end of a very long day. In fact, it was the end of a very long week – sick kids, running errands, etc. etc. It was dinner time and they’d just walked in the door and everyone started kvetching. This one needed help with her coat, that one was STARVING and the baby just wanted to be held. Supper was ready, but had to be plated, put on the table — and, Mommy was pretty hungry, too.
She felt her frustration rising and a cacophony start up in her head: they need to be quiet I can’t handle this why do they always do this to me I’m going to explode I can’t handle the kvetching they’re just pushing my buttons…
If Mommy would be able to recognize in that moment that her thoughts are simply thoughts and she doesn’t have to believe them, then she’ll better be able to see through the fog, and stay calm in the rush.
By allowing herself to let go of the thoughts, she’ll be able to stay more present, grounded and rational despite the loud whirlwind around her.
*I will note: it can take a lot of time and practice to get your brain used to recognizing that a thought is just a thought. This is something I worked on a lot before my baby was born, and continue to work on in my business and life, and I definitely didn’t see immediate results. Regular journaling and talking it out were the ways I found helped me the most.
Deep Breathing and Relaxation
Deep breathing is the key to relaxation during labor; and relaxation is the key to a smooth, easy and quick labor. I don’t know what kind of deep breathing you learned, but in the hypnobirthing class that I took, the instructor got into the cool random science stuff that I love hearing about — the best kind of breathing to calm you down.
Since our thoughts and bodies are so tightly intertwined, our thoughts will cause a physical reaction in our bodies, AND we can use our bodies to change our thoughts.
Here’s what I mean: anxious, panicky thoughts result in an accelerated heart rate and breathing…
But if you slow your breathing, you’ll slow your heart rate… and help get rid of those anxious thoughts, too. Really – try it.
Try to inhale for 3-4 counts, hold it for a moment, and then exhale for 6-8 counts, aiming for your exhale to be double the length of your inhale. You may not be able to inhale or exhale for that long when you first try it, but give it some practice and time.
When you’re in a tense situation at home – whether your newborn is crying and you just. can’t. get. that. latch!, or you’ve got a hysterical toddler, or you were up all night with a sick kid, just try deep breathing – 10 inhales and 10 exhales, counting your breath, and watch yourself relax.
Bonus for moms with older kids: by your kids seeing how positively you react in an intense situation, they’ll learn to do the same when they’re feeling that way!
Did you use either of these techniques in your labors? Have you ever tried using labor techniques in parenting? I’m curious to hear what worked for you!