Preparing To Be A Birth Goddess
“If a woman doesn’t look like a goddess during labor, then someone isn’t treating her right.” ~ Ina May Gaskin
Women are strong, beautiful, powerful beings, and if you’ve ever had the privilege of being with a woman during labour and birth you’ll have seen this in the absolute. Courage, determination, and trust interchange with fear and doubt. But when a woman is truly in her birthing zone she is unwaveringly focused, removed from the reality of those around her as she rides the waves of one of the most challenging jobs of her life. Giving birth.
You can be a Birth Goddess. The easiest way to be able to slip into that zone of surrender and body awareness is to be prepared. Mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. You could be up for an endurance event, or it could be a sprint to the line. Either way it will be a more positive experience if you have spent some time beforehand getting ready.
Lots of studies have shown that exercising whilst pregnant can shorten your labour and help your recovery afterwards. Yoga is fabulous for building a strong, flexible body, and many women treat themselves to massages, physiotherapy, osteopathy, or chiropractic treatments. Nourishing your body with beautiful whole foods will give you energy, help with healing, and give you strength as you transition into new parenthood (succumbing to the odd pie, burger or ice cream craving is expected and should be enjoyed – there’ll be enough mother-guilt aplenty down the track!). They don’t call it ‘labour’ for nothing and, whatever its final length, it’s intense and physical and glorious in all its sweatiness and movement.
We tend not to scoff at business people and sports people who indulge in visualisation practices yet we see hypnobirthing as a bit "out there" and perhaps only for the alternative types amongst us. I know a woman who is as straight up as they come - in her words, “not into that hippy shit,” who decided to give visualisation a whirl. “I’m still having an epidural though,” she said at the time.
Not a woman to do things by halves she really committed to practicing every day for the last several weeks of her pregnancy. She visualised her baby arriving three weeks early (term pregnancy is 37-42 weeks she reminded me), a four hour labour, and an intact perineum. She birthed a gorgeous baby boy three weeks early, in four hours, and her perineum was perfect. “But I didn’t get my epidural!” she said. Had she visualised it? No.
So you’re physically and mentally prepared. You have a great LMC, and your support crew are outstanding. What about the birth plan? Is it really necessary? I’d say yes. Birth plans make you aware of your options. They get you looking at the pros and cons, challenge your thinking on what sits really well with you, your values, expectations and ideals. They give everyone around you something to work from too. They can be as basic as a checklist or they can be as detailed as my friend’s birth plan which was 5 typed A4 pages complete with illustrations.
More planning goes into practically any of our big life events than that event above them all – birth. If we’re getting married we pick a venue, a celebrant, the costumes, the food and the booze (sometimes before we’ve picked the mate we assume we’ll spend the rest of our lives with). We have a backup plan in case it rains. We think carefully where we’ll seat the 87 year old relative we’ve seen a couple of times in photos, and the friends of the in laws who are possibly the most irritating people in the world but who will probably contribute well to the gift table.
If we’re going on a road trip, we might service the car, check the tyres, consider using 98 octane over 91, and pack the snacks, the music, and the motion sickness tablets. The GPS will be primed and if we’re travelling SH1 we’ll have an idea of the back roads we’ll be able to bump and slide along if (when) the traffic crawls to a stop and we’re facing a 17 hour journey that should have taken 5.
There is no certainty in life. That doesn’t mean you need to wander aimlessly, with fingers crossed, hoping for the best. So draw up a set of birth wishes/desires/preferences, and share those with your support crew. That way you all have something to work towards.
Have a set of alternatives as well. Hopefully you won’t need them but if you do they probably won’t feel so overwhelming because you’ve already paid them some thought, and have an understanding of what they entail.
Spiritual prep means something different to all of us. It could be prayer, karakia, or it could be meditation. It might be getting out in the bush, or by the sea, or next to a river. Perhaps it’s art, movement, or music. You know what fills your soul, brings you a sense of peace, calmness and joy. Pregnancy is a wonderful time to revel in it.
Embrace your inner goddess. Your body and your baby will love you for it.
Birth Goddess Prep List: