If you’re a parent already, this isn’t news. Life with children rarely turns out the way you expect. Children are unpredictable, and when you make plans involving your children, chances are, you’ll be making some changes along the way.
This is true right from the beginning. Whether your pregnancy was planned and prayed for, or a huge surprise, aspects of that first realization… “we’re going to have a baby!” can be a little… unexpected. You may feel excitement, fear, hope, dread, resignation, joy, and more. And some of these feelings may take you off-guard! “Am I supposed to feel this way? Is there something wrong with me?” Short answer: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you, and feeling this way is totally normal! This is just the beginning of a huge range of emotions you may feel as your experience of pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum take you on the adventurous journey of change on your way to parenthood.
What can you do to help prepare for the journey and its changes? How do you plan for all of these emotions? Here’s what I suggest:
Picture your perfect birth. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and really feel it. What does it look like? Sound like? Smell like? Taste like? Feel like? Who is there? Where are you? What are the most important things to you in these moments and hours leading up to meeting your new baby? Take ten minutes (or more!) and really put yourself into the experience. This could be a great thing to do in the shower, especially if you wish for water support during your birth! When you’re done, journal it out. Write down every detail you can remember. Side note: I really recommend hand writing this. There’s something much more personal when we connect pen to paper! When you’re done, scan through and find the five most important features. What stands out? What could you let go of if you needed to? Do this again in a few weeks. Has anything changed? Adjust your list of five if so. Do it one more time in the last month of your pregnancy. If you need to scrap your original list altogether and make a new one, that’s fine! If nothing has changed, that’s fine, too! But make sure you feel wonderful about the list you have.
These five things you’ve listed are the core and heart of your birth wishes. Many things may change as you plan your birth: your birthing place, your team, your circumstances. Having your most important wishes easily accessible will make the other changes easier to manage. And if one or more of your core wishes has to change, and they may, see what you can pull from, in your original image of your birth, to help make it easier to transition. For example: if a home birth is something that is most important to you, but for health reasons you have to give birth in a hospital, what from home can you bring along? Your favorite pillow or blanket? A few drops of your favorite essential oil scent on a tissue in a zip bag? Can you still labor in water if that’s something you wanted? Ask for what you need.
Labor and birth rarely go exactly how we imagine, and change can be stressful. However, if you expect the unexpected, and prepare for things to change, you’ll better be able to adjust and adapt to your new circumstances.
Make sure your birth team knows what is most important to you. A great doula will help you find your way to feeling safe and secure, no matter what changes may come your way during your labor and birth. Your doula can help your partner feel prepared and strong to support you, keeping your most cherished wishes in mind. When you have a doula, she will remind you of the things you want, and help you to ask for what you need. You can have a wonderful birth, and with a little flexibility and preparation it may look a lot like what you imagined!
Lisa Popp is the owner and creater of birthsong, intuitive care for birth and becoming. She is a birth doula and reiki master practitioner serving Aurora, Colorado and the surrounding areas.