5 Things that Make Pregnancy & Birthing Less Fearful & More Comfortable



Pregnancy can be uncomfortable, and the thought of birthing is super scary. When I got pregnant the first time, I had no idea where to go for birthing classes. My biggest fear was the birth day itself. I could not even imagine what to expect, how painful it might be, or how I could ever recover. In ancient times, we lived in tribal communities, so pregnancy, birthing, and breastfeeding advice were all passed down.

Nowadays, we live so separately, so it’s difficult to be properly informed about what to do to prepare confidently for birth. And it makes so much sense why we need lactation consultants (no more communal living to learn from our moms and sisters).  I am so thankful for the ‘sisterhood’ community I had with my cousins and the motivation from my mom, who passed down their wisdom. I could never have encountered my two “dream birth” experiences without it. So I feel a duty to my sisters of the world to pass down the Top 5 things that helped me enjoy the journey from pregnancy to birth. Please share with others as well!

1.  Begin with the end in mind.

 A positive birth (and post-partum) experience is very much connected to your expectations. If you psych yourself up for only a natural birth, but come out with a c-section, you may be super disappointed and harbor hard feelings. In the same vein, if you wanted the epidural, but were too far along and the doctor said, “You’re too far along now, I’ll just need you to push,” you may feel nervous in the moment in case you hadn’t prepared your body for that possibility. Bottom line, a baby will come out. How? Now that’s up for grabs. The best you can do for your peace of mind (and body) is to imagine your dream birth, prepare in the best way you can, and then surrender to absolutely any outcome.

2.  Trust your provider & Choose one early!

The more confident, fearless, and stress-free you are upon entering your birthing day, the easier, more comfortable, (and sometimes even quicker) the experience can be. But before you even begin to prepare your body or go to a birthing class, choosing your medical provider is one of the most important decisions that can make or break your ideal experience. Insurance companies rarely let you switch medical providers in your 3rd trimester (trust me, I learned the hard way), so the earlier you choose your caregiver, the better. Ask your local mom network for recommended hospitals, birth centers, and providers. Regardless of how firm you are in one position or another, interview both a midwife and an ob-gyn to see which approach makes you feel more comfortable. Ask, “If you were unavailable on the day I give birth, who are your backups? Can I meet them?” (Would you trust them to deliver your baby too?) “What is the c-section rate of your practice? Of the hospital?” “What is the most common position your patients deliver babies?” “Would I be able to move about as I please and give birth in any position that feels most comfortable?” If you completely trust your provider, many of your other fears about birthing may very well go out the window. You know you’ve found the right one when you feel safe in their care and truly believe they have your best interest in mind. (Stay tuned—I will be posting a list of good questions to ask your doctor or midwife in the future).

3.  Stretch! Squat! Kegels!

I don’t know about you, but tearing during birth was one of my biggest fears. To prevent tearing as much as possible, you want to do these following stretches daily. Imagine your belly is a balloon, and your vaginal opening is the balloon’s opening. You know how people pull and stretch balloons before blowing it up so that you ‘warm’ it up and prevent it from popping? Same with you. The more elastic you are, the less likely your skin will tear. (P.S. According to the World Health Organization, among many birthing educators, a routine episiotomy [having the doctor deliberately make an incision] is not recommended, as it can be more painful and takes longer to heal). I know one woman who had six kids and never once tore. For each of my births, I was shocked to have had only two tiny stitches. It’s totally possible if you prepare your body.

Try these:

-STRETCH – To help keep your baby’s head down and avoid a breech baby (and to give you a nice stretch), kneel on all fours and do the cat-cow position often [it’s like interchangeably making your back a U-shape and upside-down U shape]. Another excellent resource to turn a breech baby is on www.spinningbabies.com.  Sit on a birthing ball (yoga ball) with your knees bent perpendicular to the ground to relieve pressure and increase comfort. (The birthing ball is also excellent on birthing day, to help baby descend and open [dilate] your cervix.)

-SQUAT – [to stretch and elasticize your skin] Do this as often as possible. Keep feet flat, back upright.

-KEGELS – [to strengthen your pushing muscles and pelvic floor] As you read this, pretend you’re going to the bathroom and flex your pelvic muscles to stop your pee. You just did a kegel exercise. These exercises are helpful before and after giving birth, so you keep your lady-part muscles tight and strong. Do these as often as you think about it. You can even set aside time for it if necessary (e.g. while doing dishes, while watching TV, etc.) Ideally you want to be doing several hundred of these per day. (Sounds like a lot, but by just keeping them in mind, you’ll be doing tons of them without even realizing it!)

(a) exercise 1 – Squeeze tight, hold 3 seconds, release (repeat)

(b) exercise 2 – (aka ‘the flicker’) – Do 3 short/quick ones, then on 4th squeeze tight, hold 3 secods, release (repeat)

(c) exercise 3 – (aka ‘the elevator’) – Imagine moving your pelvic muscles up and down a 3-floor elevator – go slowly up floor #1 (pause), up to #2 (pause), up to #3 (pause), then release back down to floor #1 (you can vary these, like go from floor 1 to 3 and down to 2 back to 1; or 1-2-3-2-1, etc.)

4.  Managing Fear:

We are conditioned (especially in the U.S.) to be so fearful of birth. In other countries around the world, birthing is easy and virtually pain-free because they have grown up expecting it to be easy and pain-free. Boost your confidence by constantly encouraging yourself that birth is beautiful. What helped me was reiterating “Women have been doing this for centuries; I am built for this.” I also love using the word: “release” as a cue to help me relax. I recently coached a couple for birthing, and the woman loved the word “surrender.” Pick a word or phrase that works for you. Without having to buy anything, download these 2 free MP3 tracks to get you ‘in the zone’ of comfort and relaxation.

5.  Managing Pain:

Be “limp like a noodle.” Pain is increased when are muscles are tense and we squeeze them together. (When in pain it’s easy to squeeze your shoulders, tighten your jaw, and squeal from your throat like a pig, but that intensifies the pain.) It’s a natural reaction. So whenever you are in pain, have your partner constantly remind and help you to release your shoulders, relax your jaw, and if you happen to make any noises at all, do so from your gut like ‘aaawwww’. As often as possible, become completely ‘limp like a noodle,’ use your imagination to take yourself to another place (your partner can whisper a description of your favorite place to get away, such as a beach setting, or other peaceful place), and let your uterus do its job. The more relaxed you are, the more quickly birthing comes along.

Conclusion

Note: I learned all of this and more from my amazing birthing classes. For my first baby, I was trained in the Bradley Method and for my second, in Hypnobabies. No matter what kind of birth you want or expect, whether it be epidural, natural, c-section, it’s mostly from these kind of classes that you get informed about your rights as a birthing mother and exposure to a full-range of resources, such as fear-clearing and pain management. Hypnobabies even has birth-preparation for mothers expecting a c-section. One mom-to-be once told me, “I had my heart set on an epidural, so I didn’t really do anything to prepare. Now that I’m about to give birth, I’m actually pretty nervous that I don’t know what to expect. I kinda wish I did more.” So regardless of what birth you may have, be informed, prepare your body, and enjoy the journey!

 

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  • Wow.
  • I too was that "good" girl and based my righteousness on my actions. When I did commit one of those sins you listed (as if I wasn't already sinning with my pride in myself) I went into deep depression because I placed so much weight on being "good." When I realized (like you) that He is good and my righteousness (actions) are like filthy rags it gave me a new freedom. I was a slave to my misguided perceptions and my so called perfection. Christ offered me a freedom based on who He was and not what I did or did not do. He loved me in spite of me. That for me was freeing. Thank you for sharing this post. Now I see that I wasn't the only misguided one...lol...I'm sure there are many more of us. I look forward to reading more of your posts.
  • I am in tears after reading this! This spoke to me! I can relate! Just a while ago my selfishness rose her head and placed pressure on an old friend to be my superhero. God is the only superhero! He is near ready to comfort! Lord you have spoken! May God Bless this ministry!
  • This is a much needed topic in the church today. I dont know whats worse these church floks that fill your head with lies or that christian mingle commercial?
  • Very wise words, son. Hopefully, they are listening with spiritual ears and a heart to obey.