I’ll never forget the mom I was taking care of who was screaming through her labor. Pure fear. What calmed her down immediately was slow, deep breathing. I always think of her every now and then because it’s a reminder of how fear and anxiety can affect labor and how creating calm can shift the fear, even dispel it.
A mindful birth is a way of “being” during labor. It’s being aware of the physical challenges of labor, allowing the body to move through the labor process, embracing it (not fighting it), and using slow deep breathing to stay present, centered, focused, and calm.
This may be a hard concept to accept or even consider because of the rumors about “labor pain”. But when a level of understanding is achieved on how the body works and the effects of the “Stress Response” on labor, it makes physiological and emotional sense to elicit the “relaxation Response” that can make labor easier, and yes – potentially painless.
Anyone can create a mindful state of mind.
- sit quietly
- breathe deeply
- pay attention to the present
- daily practice
Here’s where the challenges come in. The following challenges can actually be lessons in understanding how distraction can mask “being” in the present :
- constant thinking about doing other things than what you are currently doing
When you focus on deep breathing you calm your mind of thinking, or “chatter”. When you sit quietly you calm your body. If you are in pain and in a calm state, the calm decreases the intensity of the “pain” making it more manageable.
Learning to be more aware of your body and emotions – being mindful can help you have an easier birth experience, but also help throughout your life when ever you are in a stressful situation.