I felt compelled to write a post about mindfulness as I await the start of a new life journey in a month’s time. I am planning on enrolling in a six-month meditation course in hopes that as a doula in Edmonton and instructor of childbirth classes in Edmonton, I can add this to teachings and levels of support I offer. So as I anticipate this starting, I’m thinking about all of the ways that mindfulness can be applicable to birth… and I must share this with you all!
Mindfulness is a state of being in complete awareness of all of your thoughts and all of the happenings within your body. In everyday life, mindfulness has the power to rid people of stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, depression, etc. It’s such a powerful tool and easy to use with a bit of direction and practice! When it comes to birth, mindfulness doesn’t fall short in it’s value. Mindfulness is in a way just a reminder to fall into the primal state that many birth people do naturally. There are points in a labour where you feel like nothing around you matters, where you feel alone with your body and focused inward on bringing your baby to you. This is the essence of mindfulness – being aware of thoughts that surface, of sensations that may guide you to repositioning your body, and of what it is that you truly need at any point. For some people, being mindful will save them and their baby as they will know when something is not right. For others, mindfulness will bring their faith into their birth experience and they will truly feel enlightened by a higher power. There are many different places that mindfulness may bring you to in your birth, and that is the beauty of it… it’s YOUR birth! The best part of mindfulness as a birth comfort measure, is that it’s so stinking easy to practice. If you start early, you’ll be a master come birth-day 🙂
So how exactly does this mindfulness thing work? Well, so far I have read many ways of remembering how to be mindful, and I’ve summarized everything I’ve found so far into these steps:
- If you feel anxiety or stress or sadness coming on, put a halt on your mind. Stop what you are doing and thinking so that these thoughts cannot progress further
- Describe and observe what you are thinking or feeling. Are you feeling hurt? Disrespected? Alone? Worried about something? Be very specific in how you describe your thoughts, but be careful not to use opinionated words like “good” or “bad”.
- Accept your thoughts, without any judgment. This is probably the hardest part because our whole life we are groomed to see things as either bad or good, but with this step you are going to think neither. Accepting your thoughts means telling yourself “I am feeling this, and that is where I am right now”.
- Once you’ve gone through acceptance, allow this thought to drift away and move forward. Specifically, move forward with kindness to yourself and without looking back on the thought or feeling that just left you. Also take this chance to do whatever you feel you need to do to move forward.
So guys, this may seem easy but if you try these steps for the first time you’ll realize it’s not! Not at first, anyway. The good thing is, you can practice this ANYTIME! For example, let’s pretend you get into an argument with a family member. You can use this as an opportunity to be mindful – “I’m going to stop for a minute. I am feeling disrespected and hurt. This is where I am at right now, and I am going to move on and go forward with kindness to this person and myself”. The same can be applied in a situation during childbirth. Let’s say your water just broke and you’re feeling anxious – “I’m stopping the racing of my mind. I am feeling so excited and nervous that it is overwhelming me. I’ve never had my water break before, so it’s understandable that these are my thoughts and I accept them. I am now going to move along and contact my care provider (and my Edmonton doula)”
Mindfulness has changed my life, and even if it’s something you don’t practice outside of the birth of your child, don’t let this opportunity pass you by to be more connected and in control of the process! In what situations do you think mindfulness would help you in everyday life? Let me know in the comments below!