Mentally preparing for labour!

This is not me! Or my child! This is my beautiful sister-in-law Emma with my nephew Tristan in 2012.

This is not me! Or my child! This is my beautiful sister-in-law Emma with my nephew Tristan in 2011.

PREGGO UPDATE! I am currently 6 weeks away from my due date. On one hand that feels like a million years, but on the other hand I seriously feel like the baby could come at any moment.

Which really means that my mind has shifted from the blissed-out-zen-state-of-being I felt in 2nd trimester, to my brain totally being obsessed with labour. So much so that I dream about being in labour almost every night, and this past Monday I basically spent the entire day convinced I was in labour. (I realize I am fully going to be a crazy person for the next month).

So when a dear friend had a baby a few nights ago I immediately asked her how labour was, and all she texted back was “LABOUR IS BONKERS“.

Her response made me laugh (and of course pee my pants a little), but it also reminded be that there is no way to really prepare for labour.

But alas, I am still going to try! I love asking women about their experiences, and there are a few big take-aways I’ve heard from mamma’s recently and my amazing pre-natal class. Now remember I have personally never gone through this so I can’t speak to their accuracy, but here are some of those thoughts/wise words I’ve been told that I wanted to share that will hopefully help me (and possibly you!) move into a positive headspace for labour:

1. Intensity, NOT pain – Labour has a purpose, and is natural, so let’s change our mindset a bit. It’s not like you broke your leg in a ski accident and something is terribly wrong!

2. A lot of labour will be at home, even if you are doing a hospital birth. – Basically, the movies lied to us! All that RUSHING to the hospital may not be true (although for some people – it definitely is), as your labour may start or your water may break, and you could not head to the hospital for another 5 to 10 hours.

3. Your body knew how to MAKE the baby, it will know how to get it OUT. – Trust your body, trust your body, trust your body! That is a mantra to say over and over again.

4. Your body won’t produce pain that it can’t handle. – Basically no one passes out from pain during labour – RIGHT!?

5.  Make a birth “if this, then that” list, not a birth PLAN. – As we get ready for labour I have become increasingly conscious about not wanting to set expectations, as I don’t want to be disappointed (this is a general life rule I try to live by actually!). BUT, I do think it is massively important to go through all of the scenarios of birth to at least discuss ahead of time what you may want to do if that thing happens instead of having to decide in the moment (where I might be a bit out of it). SO, instead of calling it a “birth plan” or “birth wishlist” (which ensues if it doesn’t go like that it is wrong in some way), I think it should be called the “Birth if-this-then-that” list. That way you can make clear what your preferences are, without any pressure on the experience having to go a particular way.

Do you have any other advice for someone about to go through labour? Or who can’t stop thinking about it? Please, please, please share if you do!

15 Responses to “Mentally preparing for labour!”

  1. jenn

    Lauren, long time no see (since the good ol Acadia ENVS days)! This post of yours showed up in my newsfeed and I too am all consumed with thoughts of labour so I had to read it (and then a few of your other mom-to-be entries) and I just wanted to say hey and I enjoy reading your words! I’m due April 24th with our first, can’t be too far off from you and your little bean so best of luck with the rest of it and the new beginning! – jenn (herrick) manuel.

    Reply
    • lberco

      JENN! We are due ONE DAY apart! (Although of course who knows when these little ones are going to decide to show up!). Congrats my old ENVS pal! It’s always wonderful to know someone is going through the same emotional and physical wild ride that is pregnancy, and best of luck to YOU!!!

      Reply
  2. Nate

    Almost three weeks ago my wife gave birth to our son. It was… Incredible. We went to the hospital after she had been in labor for about two hours on the advice from our doctor. Everyone we talked to at the hospital had a pleasant, knowing smile on their face. Kind of a, “You’re just getting on this roller coaster naive little ones.” kind of attitiude.
    We proceeded very quickly though and after only six hours our son was in our arms.
    In the car, Katie asked me nervously if it would be alright if she had to have an epidural. I told her that she could do whatever she needed and there would not be any judgement from anyone. I think she was trying to prepare herself for the possibility of 20plus hours of labor.
    Here is what she did though, that I think made her a rockstar:
    1. She totally took in the mindset that this was a natural process and that there wouldn’t be anything that was more than she could handle. (When they asked her about her pain levels the first time it was 3/10 and the second time it was 5 or 6/10.)
    2. Early on I asked our doula to let all of the staff that would be working with us not to tell us news about how we were progressing. We wanted to make sure that if progress was slow or nonexistant that she wouldn’t become discouraged. As a result we totally lost track of time and every time they did a check it was all good.
    3. She was open to trying things that might ease through some of those pains that were present. We finished on the bed with something they called a squat bar. Katie didn’t squat, but she used that bar to kind of pull up though the contractions.
    4. We surrounded ourselves with positive people who filled the room with love. The energy in our room was so gentle, I think Noble new that he needed to come out and meet everyone.
    Lauren if you would like to talk to my wife, I know she’d love to share her story.

    Best

    Reply
    • lberco

      Nate thank you so, so much for sharing your story and what Katie did, and a HUMUNGOUS congratulations on your beautiful baby Noble!
      And I love that Katie said that about the epidural, I feel like I could see myself saying the exact same thing to Chris. And I also think that is a great idea to ask people not to focus on progressing so not to get discouraged. I feel like it is such a mental process, not just physical, so it’s important to stay in that positive head space and be surrounded by incredible amounts of love.
      Thank you dear old friend for sharing! OHANA!

      Reply
  3. Deborah Marcom

    I gave in to peer pressure and had all three of my babies via “natural childbirth “. Which in 1973, 1984 and 1989 translated to NO DRUGS of any kind. My only advice to you is to take any and all means possible to ease the discomfort. This is what I also have (and will) advise my daughters to do. Also…whatever level of discomfort you do experience is a “pain” that magically disappears and is forgotten the second you hold your newborn for the first time. This I promise will happen. That’s the universe’s way of tricking us into having more babies!

    Reply
    • lberco

      I’ve heard of this evolutionary trick that we immediately forget about the pains of labour!

      Reply
  4. Joanne

    Our daughter Matilda was born in June 2010. Because she was my first baby and I didn’t know what to expect, I was open to any eventuality (though in the back of my head (and heart) I was really hoping not to need an epidural). As it turned out, I had to be induced and on my doctor’s advice I did take some morphine because she assured me that without it, I would run out of energy when it came time to push. At one point she told me that she had fentanyl ready and waiting for me if I decided I needed it. By the time I thought I needed it, it was too late for me to take it and my daughter was born after only six (or so) pushes. And you know what? I was fine without pain medication during delivery (the morphine had long since worn off). Our daughter Eloise was born in June 2012. Once again I had to be induced, and this time I knew that I could get by without any pain medication so I didn’t take any. Our son Leonard was born in July 2014. He came a day early (without induction) and once again, I went through labour and delivery without any pain medication. Of course every woman is different, but for me, the pain of labour and delivery is made manageable by breathing through the contractions. It does hurt, but it’s nothing you can’t handle (unless you decide that you want an epidural or some other pain medication, and that’s okay too). I know that many women love to share the horrors of their birthing stories, but I don’t have a gruesome tale to tell. I was never in a place where I just wanted it to be over. My advice (only since you asked!) is to really focus on your breathing and on your husband and though this might sound crazy, try to enjoy every minute. It’s over so quickly and it really is such a precious, miraculous (extended) moment. I also swear by having your husband offer you apple juice on the rocks at appropriate intervals (through hosptial bendy-straws) and trusting your amazing nurses (especially at Lions Gate!) – they have seen it all before and they’re so supportive and attentive. Don’t feel self-conscious about anything that happens while you’re in there (perhaps easier the third time around than the first) and just be open to whatever happens: induction, going into labour naturally, needing pain medication, trying different positions, delivering naturally or via C-section… Don’t set your heart on any one of these scenarios because in the end, all that matters is that YOU get to go home with your very own beautiful baby!!!

    Reply
    • lberco

      Thank you for this wonderful advice Joanne! I completely agree with all of it – we just have to be open to anything and everything!

      Reply
  5. Taylor

    clearly i have never given birth…lol…but i did read a cool thing as part of a birth story a while ago. one of the pregnant ladies’ friends said that getting an epidural changed the experience from being “the hardest/most painful experience of your life” to suddenly “the coolest experience of your life”

    thought that was interesting because you never hear that!

    Reply
    • lberco

      Love this. If I do get an epidural, I am definitely going to repeat that in my head! Thanks Taylor!

      Reply
  6. Isabelle

    I have one daughter who’s almost three. I too was a bit obsessed/worried about labour during my pregnancy – completely normal I think! After going through a relatively easy labour (I got an epidural and there were a few very painful moments but they didn’t last too long), however, there came the actual parenting part. Yeah. WAY harder!! Not to freak you out, but life with a newborn is totally overwhelming. I had a lot of anxiety, trouble sleeping, problems with breastfeeding … in the end I got through it and became stronger because of it. Also, unlike a lot of cases of post-partum depression, mine didn’t last too long, but I always used to say that compared to the difficulties in the first 6 weeks or so of my daughter’s life, I would rather go through labour all over again! From reading your other posts it sounds like you have a lot of support, which is key for after the baby comes. Make sure you rely on that and ask for help whenever you need it. I’m sure labour will be a breeze, and I agree with what you said that your body will know what to do. Best of luck!

    Reply
    • lberco

      Thanks Isabelle! I agree that keeping the labour part in perspective is helpful – it only lasts a day (or two…or hopefully not three), but then the REAL parenting begins!

      Reply
  7. Sarah

    LB,
    It is so cool to see you all grown up and ready to be a mommy. I remember your first summer at CLS. I had Aiden in 2006. quite hilarious how my labor started…locked out of car, tow trucks, and pizza were involved. It is true that everyone’s experience is different. I had an epidural. I knew I wasn’t going to do well with sharp labor pains. It really was good thing as Aiden really wanted to stay put. The best part was who i had picked to be with me in delivery. Since Aiden came 2 ½ weeks early, my mom couldn’t get there from CO so it was me, my Dad, friend, and Aiden’s dad. My dad kept me laughing. We played a game of guess the contraction level. My friend was the experienced mom of two. Aiden’s dad was clueless and more nervous tan me so I had something else to focus on. The bestest part ever was when they laid Aiden on my belly crying, he immediately stopped when I said his name. I hated being pregnant…morning sickness last all day and all 1st trimester. I lost 12 pounds I threw up so much! Sleeping on my belly was out so I was seriously sleep deprived already. BUT the little man I got out of all it is the greatest part of my life. At 9 years old he still is my baby who loves to hear the story of the night he was born…..in 8 hours:) Good luck! You will be awesome at labor and both of you will be great parents. Congrats again to you and Chris

    Reply

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