Surrender: a journey to motherhood
"Every birth is a unique & sacred journey."
If you would have told me three years ago that I would be giving birth in my dining room....twice, I would have said you are out of your mind. My understanding of the birthing process was probably similar to a lot you reading this. Bright lights, scary, hospitals, doctors, epidurals, screaming, and pushing were some of the words that came to mind when I thought about giving birth because that's all I had ever been exposed to. Now the words that come to mind when I think about giving birth are intimate, safe, peaceful, strength, empowering, and life altering.
Everyone's idea of giving birth and their birth outcomes are different because every birth is a unique and sacred journey on our way to motherhood. I truly believe that each unique birth we experience will birth us as mothers, and the journey we need to take to get there will in some way shape and mold the way we view motherhood. I wanted to share my experience solely for the purpose to bring awareness that there is another way to birth our children and ourselves as mothers.
My journey to becoming a mother (unbeknownst to me) began seven years ago when I was introduced to the philosophy that our bodies are self-healing, self-regulating, and that there is an innate intelligence within us that keeps our hearts beating, lungs breathing, and perfectly orchestrates a million other physiological processes every second of the day--including birth. I had no idea that my decision to go to chiropractic school would ultimately shift my perspective on birth and how we decided to bring two sweet souls into this world.
Every birth is a unique and sacred journey. Every pregnancy is different. Every soul you bring into this world is different. This journey to motherhood is not an easy one, but it is worth every single second of discomfort. It truly is a blessing to bring little humans into the world, and I'd like to share with you how I prepared my mind, body, and soul for birth.
Both of our baby girls were born in our dining room in a birthing pool under midwifery care. Our first was 8 hours of labor and a few hours of intense, active labor. Our second was ready to get earth side fast, and was born in 2.5 hours with just a few minutes of pushing. Even though both experiences were natural and intense, my mindset the second time around had shifted. I had completely embraced one word--surrender.
Surrendering your mind to your body can be one of the most difficult things you do in life. You want to feel in control, but the less in control you actually are, the easier the process will be. Letting go of expectation, letting go of the perceived discomfort between contractions, and letting go of control is a good place to begin when falling into the surrender of birth.
You can mentally plan for months, even years how you want your birth to happen, and still end up with an outcome that can leave scars mentally and physically. This is another area that surrender comes in to our journey to motherhood. Surrendering to the fact that God had a way to use your birth to shape you as a mother and to use your testimony to encourage or shape the way other women or yourself may give birth in the future. Choose to not be a victim and use your story to empower your life journey and those around you.
Preparing mentally for our two births began with our first meeting with our midwife. There I was sitting on a couch with my husband, looking like I was excited to become a mother and was totally in control, but on the inside I was nauseous, scared, unsure, and had no clue what the journey of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood had in store for me. However, the moment I met our midwife I knew it was naturally right. The beautiful correlation between midwifery care and chiropractic is that we both honor a sacred trust in the body's innate ability to heal and to give birth. We are both stewards of natural and normal physiology that stands back in pure reverence of the human body and what it can do when it is not interfered with. I knew after our first meeting that I trusted her 100% with mine and my unborn baby's life. When you trust your provider to honor your birth choices and to keep you safe, your mind can be at ease and you can focus on your body birthing this baby.
The unknown can be uncomfortable, so when you know what labor and birth look and feel like, it becomes less scary. We were blessed to have a wonderful natural childbirth class that was empowering instead of defeating. When I learned that labor is a natural rhythm, perfectly designed by God, I realized I was designed perfectly to do this--and could do this. How you think about birth and how you talk to yourself during labor has a huge part in how your body responds. The one word that became my mantra was surrender. Surrender to the natural process happening within me, surrender to this baby making its way out of my body, surrender to the expansions opening my body, surrender to the space between expansions, surrender to the discomfort, surrender to the naturally right process that is birth.
Shifting the language of birth was another way to mentally prepare for what was happening within me. The one word you will hear and think the most during birth is contraction. When I replaced this word with expansion the second time around, my "expansions" were much more manageable. Why would you tell your body every 2-5 minutes to contract and close when you could be telling it to expand and open to help that baby out. Creating mantras for my birth space was something I did for our second birth. This is what I was reading my entire labor and the days preceding it:
-Every expansion brings me closer to meeting our baby.
-I am stewarding a soul into this world.
-I relax and remain calm during labor.
-I am at peace and covered in grace.
-I am loved. I am strong.
-I am calm, relaxed, and in control.
-I was created to do this.
I do believe that birth is 90% mental. So let's talk about the other 10%. Physically there are many things that you can do to prepare your body for labor. Just as you prepare for a marathon, you should be preparing for your birth. What do the most elite runners do every day to get ready for the big race? They make sure their body is physically ready to endure the race ahead by eating well, training, getting adjusted to ensure proper alignment and healing, stretch, foam roll, and treat their body as a pure and sacred temple. I'm not saying your diet has to be kale and chia seeds and you need to be on a vigorous workout schedule for 40 weeks, but maintaing a healthy internal environment helps to decrease the toxic load placed upon your nervous system and your developing baby. Eating a balanced diet will help with your energy that will in turn help with you staying physically active.
Movement is life. Especially during pregnancy and labor. The best advice I received from my midwife was to not try to get in great shape and set records during pregnancy, but to maintain what you are already doing on a regular basis. Throughout both pregnancies I ran until my body told me to stop, walked daily, did yoga, lifted weights, swam, and spent a lot of time outside connecting with nature. Movement is also going to help as you are in active labor to open up the hips and use gravity to move the baby down the birth canal easier.
A vital role in pregnancy and birth is chiropractic and your chiropractor. Getting adjusted will help not only the alignment of the spine and pelvis, but also the mind-body connection that will strengthen the bond between you and your baby. I love showing this picture to meet people where they are at in the physical realm of chiropractic because you can see how the uterus is directly connected to the sacrum.
If you are under good, regular chiropractic care during your pregnancy you will more than likely be seeing your chiropractor more than your birth provider throughout the course of your pregnancy. Choosing a great prenatal chiropractor for your pregnancy can and should be one of the most important decisions you make. Finding someone you connect and can share your birth plan with, someone who will support you no matter how you decide to birth, and someone who will empower and support you on your journey to motherhood is very important. Chiropractors honor and surrender to the intelligence that is creating that baby in your belly. They honor that this intelligence flows from the brain via the nervous system to every organ, tissue, and cell within your body. The specific chiropractic adjustment during pregnancy is intentionally designed to connect your body not only physically but mentally and spiritually as well.
We live and experience our lives through the nervous system and the expression of it depends on how open the communication is from our brain to body. Chiropractors are the only ones trained to locate and adjust the spine adequately for birth and pregnancy. Connecting deeper mind and body to your developing baby, proper alignment of the pelvis for a more comfortable pregnancy, proper baby positioning, and a possibly shorter labor time are all benefits to getting adjusted throughout your journey to motherhood.
No matter how you decide to navigate this journey to motherhood, know that you are a goddess and a warrior for bringing a human soul into this world. Allowing yourself the space to surrender to how YOU want to give birth is one of the most empowering experiences we are given as women. I hope this helps you to know there is another way to give birth than what we are shown on TV and in society, I also hope it opens up your eyes to the fact that you are not only birthing a baby but also yourself as a mother. When you push that baby out you realize you can do the impossible and there is nothing in life you cannot do if you simply put your mind, body, and soul into it.