A elderly woman is diagnosed with a late stage cancer. Once home she contacts her pastor to prepare for the funeral and how she wants it to go to properly celebrate her life. Her pastor thought she should take some time, but the woman wanted to make sure he used the right hymns, the right scripture, and said the right words. So the pastor came to her home and they went over everything for her funeral. And then she proclaimed "At the end, I want you to take the Bible and place it opened on my casket and place a fork on it." "A fork?" the past asked. "Yes. At the end of all our dinners, what is the one thing every one tells you? 'Keep your fork as the best is yet to come...dessert!' So by placing a fork on top of my casket we will reminding all that THE BEST IS YET TO COME."
This was the story that was shared at church this past Sunday as our pastor then mentioned the concept of living in the Now and for the Not Yet. As he went on about it in the sense of living for God, I couldn't help but think about all the mamas and couples that come to all my preparing for childbirth classes.
Those mamas and couples take the class to prepare for birth and what to expect in birth. The NOW.
What about mom's postpartum care? The NOT YET.
Granted, I do cover some postpartum recovery and touch a bit about what will be going on with baby in the hour or two after birth. For more information about newborn care, I refer to the Breastfeeding/Newborn Care Combo class my workplace offers.
But how many mamas and couples just prepare for the birth and forget that there is a baby at the end to take care of; and they especially forget about the new mother that just went through a huge life event that needs to recover, physically and mentally as well as somehow get rest while to care for a baby.
So how can we as mamas and support people prepare for the Now AND Not Yet?
Make lists of the following (I LOVE lists!!):
As expectant mommas, we tend to concentrate on this big event called birth. And it is big and we should prepare for it. But we should also prepare for postpartum. That lasts a WHOLE YEAR after baby's birth.
The best is yet to come in many ways....and for you it means that your baby will be in your arms soon. So do not forget to live not only for the now, but for the not yet too.
Many movies and TV shows portray birth with lots of screams that all started with a gush from the mothers water breaking in the middle of a mall. Or if you google birth stories all you find are the horror stories.
What happen to the positive birth stories? Where mom and dad meet their baby in joy?
Well, let's fill you up with positive images/videos of birth!
Here are 10 birth videos where moms and dads meet their babies in complete, euphoric joy!
If videos are not your cup of tea, how about stories that you can read to boost your confidence and reassure your mind that your body knows exactly how to labor and birth that baby to meet the world.
Here and Here are two websites FILLED with positive birth stories. And one of my favorite hospital birth stories to read.
Positive thinking is expecting, talking, believing, and visualizing what you want to achieve. Make your achievement to be 'Meeting your baby in JOY' no matter what your birth story will entail.
I just had a conversation the other night during a consultation with new clients about how there will be times during labor that I will do nothing. That was hard to admit.
I tired to explain that sometimes moms just want me there and I end up "holding space". "Holding space"? I said it then realized I had no idea how to explain exactly what that meant.
As a doula, I sometimes just sit there with mom in the quiet listening to her birth music and ever so often she will look up at me during a wave and I just look into her eyes with confidence in her strength and full of love as I breathe with her, slow, cleansing breathes.
At my most recent birth, mom just wanted me to hold her hand during each contraction wave and looked me in the eyes searching for reassurance as I whispered words of encouragement "You've got this. You are so strong. You are beautiful. You are going to meet your baby soon." And then when the contraction was over, she closed her eyes and just rested. But if I moved to grab her water from the night stand or went to the bathroom to grab a cool cloth, she would call out for me. She just needed a reassuring presence by her side throughout her labor.
Julie Byers, a birth doula and childbirth educator, from Greenville, SC wrote a beautiful blog post about Doulas doing nothing in labor and even found a better word then the phrase "holding space" for it: Pacers. Doulas are Pacers for labor.
Doulas focus completely on mom (and take note of partner too). While healthcare providers (your doc, ob, midwife, etc.) and nurses are there for a job that interrupts the focus on mom's mental and emotional needs, such as listening to baby's heartrate, checking mom's blood pressure, etc plus needing to pay attention to other patients. Then if things become hairy in labor, a pacer is so important to remain focused on mom and to be calm and reassure her (and even give partner a pep talk about what's going on and why and what to expect).
This is where just having a partner, friend, or family members as a Pacer can be difficult for mom. They can get emotionally caught up in the experience, as they should be. These people are emotionally invested differently than the doula and could be seeing labor/birth for the first time. Sometime that person is not sure if the laboring mom is feeling normal labor progression and can get concerned. Moms have a sixth sense and can feel that fear or uncertainty brought into the laboring space.
This is why doulas are so important, even if they are doing nothing. As a doula, my focus to keep my posture, my emotions and my movements soft and exude confidence to the laboring mom (as well as the partner by her side). I am a pacer.
Alexia the Doula
Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator & Postpartum Doula serving Minneapolis, St Paul and the greater Twin Cities area.