Fear & Fatigue
The Two Big Factors in Labor and Birth
As a labor doula there are two factors that I think make the most difference in labors. The first one is fear. Pam England says that the work of pregnancy is worry. We need to get all our fears out on the table and address them one by one. That way when labor begins, we have gotten the fear factor out of the way and we can labor. When a woman is holding onto some hidden fears she does not allow her body to unfold and birth. This truly inhibits the mind-body connection that is so essential for birth to flow more easily.
Some of the greatest fears are not unique to most women. There is a fear of loosing control. The concern about pooping when they are pushing out their baby. There is concern that their behavior will be such that they will be embarrassed by it later. There is the issue of trust for their provider and the location where they will birth. Will their partner be supportive enough? Will this experience enhance their relationship or hurt it? Will their body “fail” them- not opening properly or not being able to withstand the pain? Will they have to fight for what they want? Will they allow something to happen that they will later regret? These are just a few of the concerns most women share with me. The answers or solutions are as varied and individual as the concerns. I do know that these concerns need to be addressed long before labor begins so that these same concerns won’t inhibit the natural process of labor.
You mind has a lot of control over your body. Sometimes we don’t even know some fears are lying just under the surface of our conscious mind. Some people find the use of journaling to help then get in touch with what they are feeling. Some use birth art to help them discover what is going on inside their heart. When you feel something don’t squish it down, open it up and let it out. It is essential for you to have your mind and heart open to your birth experience. You can’t plan it but you need to allow it to happen without fear being a controlling factor.
I think one way of addressing fears is to begin to talk about them. You need to talk about them to your partner. You need to talk to your provider about them. If you feel like you are having to defend or fight now with your provider on some issues, then you may want to consider if this is a relationship that needs to change now. If you don’t feel comfortable addressing your concerns with the person who will be your care provider in labor before your labor begins, perhaps you need to consider if you will be able to once labor makes you feel even more vunerable.
The other factor that I see play a huge role in the way labor happens is fatigue.It is essential in the last weeks before birth that you stay active and fit. But it is also essential that you rest when you are tired. Going to bed earlier than normal after a soothing bath is a good ritural to begin. If you are having problems sleeping talk to your care provider about some homeopathic or natural remedies that they can suggest. A warm bath with lavendar scents and a soothing massage will do the trick for many moms. But creating the ability to at least rest even if sleep is hard, is important.
When labor begins, if it is late in the evening, try to rest. Stay in bed if you can. Cuddle on the sofa in front of a good chick flick. Don’t feel the need to go out for a power walk if you are tired. If it begins after you have had a good nights sleep, then go about your day, but don’t over do it. Women who have lost a lot of sleep or try to work themselves into a good labor pattern find that they usually don’t have the stamina for a long labor. Labor can be exhausting. Save your energy. Stay upright and active but only if you have rested. Listen to your body. If it says lie down and rest, then do it!
My suggestion to women in early labor is to rest and keep themselves well hydrated. Go about doing what you would naturally do at that hour. If it is 2 am- then crawl back in bed. You won’t have a baby while you are sleeping. If it is 2 pm, go about doing what you need to do- but don’t over do and rest when you need to. I believe if you listen to your heart and body and address your fears and take care to not over do in prelabor and early labor, two factors that can cause labor to not flow smoothly will be taken out of the equation!