The birth process evolves out of our last days of pregnancy; there is a flow and rhythm to that last month (maybe more, maybe less) that plays a part in determining how we segue into the birth. As I always say, the birth process is not an event but a process. How we shape our last days of pregnancy surely has an effect on what comes next; how we handle it and maybe even ultimately how the experience of birth goes for us.
Most of us realize that there is ZERO respect for the birth process in mainstream culture; asking for respect and understanding of this pre-birth world that pregnant women can exist in may be asking too much! But yet for the women that are ready and willing, this connection between pregnancy and the birth process will be understood.
(Having just been through this stage personally has given me more awareness and compassion as a midwife to do what feels like “overboard” respect of this crucial last month in supporting my clients. It’s so easy to forget the dreamlike state that this last bit of pregnancy should be; I think that in supporting women, we can keep our eye focused on her well-being, the baby, the numbers, the clinical care without so many words and questions. Similar to the birth process, EVERY word counts. EVERY thought matters. I realized in my last pregnancy just how uber-sensitive I was even to people’s questions about how I was was feeling; pretty much everything like that would take me out of my otherworldly state and it was shocking! Most women in this country spend their entire pregnancies stressed, so there is a lot to undo. If someone is receiving medical pregnancy care, there is a LOT to “remove” from this last month to encourage even the slightest relaxation, connection and oxytocin release; even a little bit is worth it!! Those examples are endless and maybe impossible to achieve relaxation for some; think of the insane focus on numbers, whether it be dilation or effacement of the cervix or lab work values or weeks of pregnancy or ultrasound results! The medical world can be a great reminder though, even for midwives, that we have our own “versions” of all that end of pregnancy stuff that can be translated as extreme stress to the mama! I’m not encouraging a forgetting of the things we have learned or the possibility of (rare) complications; however, I AM encouraging a lot LESS communication of any of those things to the woman, unless the circumstances are truly concerning! It is my belief that even the midwife enters a “between worlds” state to support a woman in birth; to the degree that we can do that considering we constantly have women on the brink of birth and many others at various stages!)
The main focus the last month is to encourage a lack of intellectual focus (our brains aren’t good at that anyway at this time!), opportunity for connection with ourselves, nature, higher power (whatever that is for you), connection with our baby and partner and overall to be able to slip in and out of being present in the “real world”. We want to create space for being “in between worlds”; the same “in between” that birth will ask of us.
*Get outside, in nature as much as possible. Find real quiet as much as you can.
*Avoid social media and online reading/resources as much as possible. Yes, there can be support in Facebook groups but also lots of fear and focus on everything that’s the opposite of a relaxed pregnancy. This creates adrenaline every time we log on, or use google to search our latest pregnancy question.
*Wrap up sharing and discussing any last minute fears, questions, plans for birth with your partner, midwife and/or birth team.
*Write your own birth mantras. Journal. Color. Listen to music. Talk to your baby.
Dream about your birth. Create what you want to feel, see and experience. Focus in on the calm and confident feelings!
*Eat a lot of great, whole fresh foods in whatever way keeps you feeling good, and growing.
*Sleep as much as you want to and can.
*Energetically cleanse your birth space and infuse with positive energy.
*Reduce stress. In every way! If you can make arrangements to stop work (or whatever it is that might take you into the practical world to a high degree!) or limit this, great!
*Have support and help completing tasks that take you out into the world to a degree that doesn’t feel good! This might mean grocery shopping or other ways you’ll be asked to interact with people (and of course whether this feels “good” or not largely depends on your personality! But be aware of how drained you feel (or not) after these kinds of interactions!)
*Only say YES to the invites or interactions with others that REALLY feel right! This is not the time to people please or spend time talking about nothing or things that don’t matter to you right now. Finding other pregnant women to hang out with at this stage can be great!
*Don’t expect more of yourself than you can right now! This is a time to slow down; you might interpret that as feeling unproductive or feel too slow or heavy. Yes! There is a reason for that.
*Move your body every day in a way that feels good! Stay connected to your breath. This might be walking, yoga, or stretching. Your body is your best friend through the birth process so ask it what it needs now.
*Stay positive. Stay focused. No reading, listening or entertaining anyone’s negative thoughts or stories!
*Stay out of your head. Books about birth or the process or anything related can take you out of your own space of creating YOUR birth.
*Take any (outward) focus on numbers, time, dates and turn it inwards! Stress about any of the end of pregnancy tests or dates is counterproductive to the release of oxytocin. What do you need right now that creates calm and an ability to be present?
*Honor whatever physical/emotional connection you desire or not with others! Sometimes we move through places where connection with a partner feels really right, and sometimes not! The end of pregnancy can make some women feel like they need a bubble around their physical space.
*If receiving prenatal care, create visits/appointments that meet you where you are at. Maybe your midwife/birth team will support you in making postpartum food at a visit. Other ideas; creating your own herbal bath mix, inviting your birth team for a ceremony or more sacred get together that creates more bond and connection. I know many midwives that would be happy to support women in this way and it adds some variety or interest during that last month of (what can be) boring and routine “prenatal care”. And along the same lines, if your care provider is NOT supportive of keeping you in the pre-birth bubble, you may need to reconsider your options!
As with anything…there actually are no “rules”! These are ideas and suggestions that may feel right to you and there may be others that you come up with. Check out our amazing course, 13 Moons: The Indie Birth Experience to see if we are currently enrolling! We have so many resources to support this last month included in our curriculum (from special podcasts, to coloring pages, to meditations to listen to).
What felt right to YOU at the end of your pregnancy? Do you feel it made a difference during your birth?