Mindful Birth: Words Can Be Comforting Too
An article came out last month in the NY Times talking about the benefits of a mindful pregnancy. You can read the piece here.
It reminded me of a doula client of mine from a few years back whose labor pains increased significantly when she started to get panicked about not having a room. (An unfortunate and increasingly common occurance in many NYC hospitals.)
Up until that point, she'd been laboring so beautifully, then just as soon as she was bumped out of the present moment (and into the hallway), her pain became overwhelming and unbearable.
After that intense contraction had passed, I helped her recover her breath. I pointed out the difference between the sensations she'd been experiencing when she was calm and focused versus worried and concerned about the room.
Of course, her desire for a private and safe space to labor in was completely understandable. She wasn't crazy to prefer not laboring in the L & D hallway!
But since it was not something she could control or speed up, her only choice was to either panic and feel more pain, or reduce her experience of pain by re-focusing her attention on the present moment and take each contraction at a time with the same deep, calm breaths she had been throughout her labor up until that point. In other words, mindfully.
What was amazing was, she did it! With the next contraction her labor became focused, relaxed, and 100% manageable again. Against all odds, her experience of pain diminished in that very same hallway.
And her room became available within the hour.
Most of my teaching and writing is focused on the power of comforting touch, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share how comforting words can be.
In so many ways, a loving doula, partner or care provider can help with just a few words, to restore a laboring woman's belief in herself, to release worry or fear, or as in this case, to re-focus her attention on the present moment and take her labor one contraction or surge at a time.
Have you experienced or witnessed a mindful birth?
Share your experience in the comments!
I'd love for us to continue spreading the word about how positive birth can be with support and tools for being present.