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In the land of drive-thru everything, movies on demand, swipe-able dating apps and meals/rides on demand…how can we turn on the patience switch just for birth? For many couples patience started pre-conception with fertility challenges and then in first trimester with all-day-sickness. Both test our patience and then teach us such gratitude once we move pass the period of suffering, but around 35-38 weeks often that little monster called impatience rears its head again, creating anxiety, stress and often thoughts that something is wrong. In prenatal yoga, as well as birth prep classes we learn tools to work with discomfort, whether they be contractions or just indigestion. We learn to step back and let go of judgments, thoughts of limitation and just notice what is happening. Through mindfulness meditation and bringing awareness in postures, we start to see where we are holding back, holding on, or preventing the opening that might be needed to welcome this new life into our arms.
Jana Studelska, CPM, uses the German word Zwischen, which means between, to describe the in-between phase mothers feel as they await their baby’s arrival with all the new thoughts, sensations and unanswered questions a new mom has in her head.
“I call out Zwischen in prenatals as a way of offering comfort and, also, as a way of offering protection. I see how simple it is to exploit and abuse this time. A scheduled induction is seductive, promising a sense of control. Fearful and confused family can trigger a crisis of confidence. We are not a culture that waits for anything, nor are we believers in normal birth; waiting for a baby can feel like insanity. Giving this a name points her toward listening and developing her own intuition. That, in turn, is a powerful training ground for motherhood."
I’m grateful for the resources available in the hospital when an emergency arises or medical intervention becomes the best option to reduce suffering. But I also feel that babies should be allowed to come to this planet in their own time, without prodding and provoking, unless there is a real medical concern. Having Pitocin, the epidural and C-sections as “easy” options can make numbing the discomfort of labor/waiting for labor to begin, the best choice because our mind says “run from pain, cling to pleasure.” A common theme in my classes is Impermanence, knowing that everything changes, including the pain of labor and once you allow yourself to be in a place you might want to bolt from, you learn that its possible to stay a little longer without defeat…maybe even feeling encouraged! Next time you want to push away that thought or sensation, see what happens if you stay still and wait…until the mud settles…and trust that you will be guided so that the right action arises by itself.
1 – Place your hands on your belly and breathe in for 10 counts and exhale through the mouth. If 10 is too high, adjust to lower amount and work up to longer inhales. 5-10 mins seated on reclining on pillows/bolster
2 – Impermanence: Everything Changes. Sit on the floor cross-legged or in a chair for 5 mins just paying attention to the breath. See if you can avoid fidgeting or scratching an itch, just noticing what movements are really necessary and notice if you wait, how the condition/discomfort rapidly changes.