It wasn’t until I experienced the hardship and loss of a miscarriage that I knew what kind of mental state I really wanted for my labor & delivery. I offer my story with the hope of helping someone navigate what will work for them. Your story, wishes and desires are unique to you and you have every right to that!
Where It Began
After a long journey to get pregnant, I was eight weeks pregnant and lost the heartbeats of my triplets. Four weeks later, I faced the hardest day of my life. I was told miscarrying was like getting your period, but for me it was full on labor and I had no idea what to expect next. My body contracted and bled, contracted and bled … for 3 1/2 hours. My body took over my mind and I was scared, everything felt out-of-control. Fists clenched and curled up in fetal position, I prayed the pain would stop. I felt so alone and so sad.
I spent that summer mourning the idea of the family that we so badly wanted and longing to have that reality. Some days were emotionally dark and others were optimistic. When fall arrived, we became pregnant with our miracle baby and I faced grieving my first pregnancy while rejoicing my second.
I spent the second and third trimesters getting to a healthier mental state while allowing myself to feel a full range of emotions.
A Healthier State of Mind
I realize laboring through a loss is wildly different than laboring to a healthy baby – but this time, I wanted to approach the pain and discomfort of contractions with curiosity instead of fear. I discovered mindfulness and used five techniques to bond with my baby and feel more prepared.
Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Disclaimer: I know and completely respect that my choice isn’t everyone’s choice and that’s okay! Do what works for you and what you want for your body. I simply chose mindfulness as a technique because of my prior experience feeling out of control, and a deep desire to be in more control of my mental state.
I did these five things:
RELAX Dim lights, soft piano music, lavender essential oil and warm baths. Just baby and I… focused on what I felt in the moment – physically and emotionally, acknowledging my worries, fears and excitements. I tensed and relaxed each muscle group slowly while paying attention to what my baby was doing.
PRENATAL MASSAGE Not only did this alleviate aches and pains of a growing belly – it was relaxing. Early in my 3rd trimester, I started prenatal chiropractic work and credit those adjustments to creating optimal space in my pelvis for my desired natural delivery. And, I felt more balanced and aligned every time.
BREATHING Practicing patterned and slow, deep breathing became part of my daily routine. I utilized it first thing in the morning upon waking up and at night before going to bed, soaking in the bathtubs, strolling through our neighborhood … I made time to give patterned breathing a go! Proper techniques helped me to stay focused during my labor and delivery.
VISUALIZE I used all senses and formed mental images of my birthing experience. In writing a birth plan, these things often appear … use of essential oils, massage, dim lights, soft classical music, etc. and I focused on how I would handle the ebbs and flows of contractions, laboring baby down, pushing, etc. rather than on fears of the unknowns.
EXCERCISE I aimed for daily walks though every other day was more realistic. I unplugged from work during this time and focused on how baby enjoyed my movements and mentally worked through visualizing labor and delivery! Spinning Babies was a great resource for me on stretches and light exercises.
TALK I felt more prepared and confident by asking questions at my prenatal appointments, talking through scenarios and processing my birth plan with my husband, mom, doula, midwives and friends. I felt connected to baby when I talked to him aloud, as if he was already a part of my life.
For me, mindfulness was not only therapeutic in my grief process — it helped focus and give me the mental and physical stamina I needed on the miraculous journey of giving birth. It may not be for everyone, but I found it helpful and encourage you to consider some of these techniques if you’re working through getting to a healthier state of mind.
I’d love to continue the conversation to help other women find a healthier state of mind for labor & delivery. What other mindfulness activities or techniques have you tried – liked or disliked – and why?