Don’t Squish the Butterfly
“I know that when a woman births on her own power, and finds her rhythm, and her postures, and her sounds, and her moment of ecstasy with birth, that she is a changed woman, and she is a fierce mother.” ~Ina May Gaskin
I’m 36 weeks + 4 days pregnant, which means baby is just days away from being full-term. After this Wednesday, I will exhale a massive sigh of relief because Little Nixon can come any time. And he’ll be welcome sooner rather than later! Because all those women who said the last month is the worst were absolutely correct. Most of the time I feel pretty awful and enormously uncomfortable. I am awkward and restless. Everything is difficult to do. Finding a relaxed position to sleep in can take hours not only because of my belly, but also my hands and arms become numb. The swelling in my hands and feet is painful. And I’ve been having quite a bit of fibromyalgia pain in my arms and legs this past week.
Omg I am SO done with being pregnant. It was actually kind of fun up until a couple of weeks ago!
But I do hope Little Nixon stays in for a few more weeks. I still have some mind training to do. One of the primary pain relief methods I am working on is hypnosis, through the program called Hypnobabies. Hypnobabies retrains your brain to think of childbirth as easy and comfortable, and uses hypnosis and deep relaxation to reduce or eliminate labour pain (create a natural anaesthesia). One aspect of the program is the replacement of certain words and phrases with ones that are positive in order to reframe the experience. For example, contractions are “pressure waves” (this falls in line with Ina May Gaskin’s substitute—“rushes”), labour is “birthing time”, transition is “transformation”, and pain is “intensity” or simply “pressure”. But it goes farther than just changing the language used—the program attempts to replace the fear and expectation of pain with confidence in the body’s ability to birth comfortably, safely, gently and—of course—painlessly.
“Hypnosis advocates give several explanations of how the process works. One theory holds that when a woman feels fear during childbirth, her body releases stress hormones that trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response. This causes muscles to tighten and interferes with the birthing process. By training the subconscious mind to expect a safe, gentle birth, they say, women can avoid going into the fight-or-flight state, allowing for a smoother birth.” ~BabyCenter
There are 12 half-hour hypnosis sessions to listen to over the course of six weeks or longer. Each has its own intention and instruction, such as breaking down old beliefs, relaxing in your own sacred place, releasing fear, learning how to put yourself into a state of hypnosis, creating anaesthesia, and pushing the baby out. I could be a tad behind if Little Nixon arrives early—I’m in week three—but it’s actually working. I’ve been using the finger drop technique to put myself into a deep relaxation when I’m feeling pain or am very uncomfortable in bed at night, and the pain honestly decreases. I do have trouble, however, maintaining the reduced pain for very long, as I tend to lose focus.
(During the past year, I’ve noticed that when I’m in a lot of pain but my body is in a state of tension and my mind is upset, the pain intensifies. If I go for a walk or meditate, the pain is reduced. I just haven’t been disciplined enough to keep the pain away completely or regularly through entirely natural means. That would require a lot of work that I haven’t had the time for. I don’t even know if I could—chronic pain is a devil beast to tame. It’s easier to take medication to dull the pain. Although I am sure there would be great benefit to using hypnosis during especially nasty flares.)
Other relaxation methods during my birth time might include breathing (4 count in through the nose, 8 count out through the mouth is working well for me), visualizations, affirmations, keeping my mouth relaxed by making noise (groaning, mooing like a cow, or blowing “raspberries”), trusting that my body knows what to do, walking, resting, using my personal mantra, releasing endorphins, and humour (apparently a good belly laugh is an effective form of anaesthesia). I’m open and willing to do whatever helps create a “pain-less” birth.
I really think I can do this. My mind is very powerful, and with the right tools, it can accomplish great tasks—mentally, physically and spiritually. I am a strong and fearless woman about to become a mother. I am going to BREATHE this baby out and it will be the most empowering experience of my life.
And then there’s the “but”. That part of me that questions. The part who has suffered through considerable physical pain since January of 2013 and who is terribly scared of not only being in pain I can’t handle, but of feeling like I FAILED at the challenge I have given myself if indeed it does become too much for me. I’m scared that it will hurt MORE for me because I have fibromyalgia. I’m afraid of having complications and being transferred to the hospital. What if I just totally fall apart?
One of my midwives said something a few weeks ago that resonated with me. “Hold your intention here,” she said, her hand outstretched, palm up. “But don’t squish the butterfly.”
Que sera sera.