I was on Facebook and came across a post where an essential oil company was trying to market one of its gadgets to “KonMari lovers”. This made me laugh, and I thought “how silly to use this craze for click bait!”. 5 seconds later I realized it was genius, and it gave ME what felt like a really great title and direction for this article. 🙂
Maryn’s recent birth of Cove was so joyful, as she described it herself in the story, and so free from the stress that I feel sometimes even at home births. Sometimes the fear and stress is warranted, or balanced with the joy and flow, but more often than not it is the product of un-dealt with fears from the laboring person or someone on the birth team, myself included since I’m only human. As I prepare for my own birth, which is only about 6ish weeks away now, I am struck with how little we talk about this idea of joy in birth. Many corners of the birth world talk about pleasurable birth, or painless birth or orgasmic birth, but none of those words or concepts have felt like a match for me.
Joy though, I can get on board with. Even if it hurts, even if it goes differently than I expect, I can hold that there is a capacity for joy. My first birth with Celosia and the two miscarriages preceding her were filled with anxiety that I simply couldn’t/didn’t move through until long after her birth, which left little room for joy. It mostly was about “getting to the other side”, and I felt very utilitarian about the whole thing. It wasn’t an anxiety about the BIRTH process at all – I knew I could do that. It was an anxiety about my baby, wondering if they would survive, if I would survive if she did not, and if I would survive this process of becoming a mother than had taken everything I could give and more. I was obliterated. It was perfect in all the ways it needed to be, and taught me so much.
This time around though, I am holding the vision for something that feels very different. I have worked through my anxiety, and while I know I will have to put myself back together anew again, this time as a mom to two, I THINK also have the lived experience to buoy myself through in a way that has more ease. I also don’t feel like a deconstructed shadow person going into the birth (thank goodness, although again, grateful for the experience, but damn, been there done that). Good pep talk me.
So back to Marie Kondo. I had admittedly not read her book, but I HAVE watched every episode of her show on Netflix so I am pretty sure that counts. I actually think her method can be applied more easily to a birth plan/vision than to your sock collection, so stay with me here. The basic principles of the KonMari method are to get everything out in the open and in one place, and then systematically look at each item to determine if it sparks joy. If it does not, thank it nonetheless, and send it on its way. My hippy friends would call this “releasing the things that no longer serve you”.
So let’s start with the pile, which is my favorite part. Your birth vision pile might mean writing down all the choices you have/want/need to make about your birth. Where will it be, who will be there, what choice have you made in terms of routine anything, what things have you already said no to or released, etc, etc. Here is a document I made that might be helpful! It should also include all your beliefs, expectations, desires, and fears about the process, which will probably make quite a pile by the end.
Now for figuring out what sparks joy and what does not. This part is where most people struggle, even with socks or the junk drawer, and I think it is in this struggle that the growth happens. It isn’t about getting the answer right necessarily, it is about grappling with the choices and investigating what you’re holding onto. The easiest example I can think of is the mom/mother-in-law choice that so many women are faced with. So the question is, will it bring you joy to have your mom/mother-in-law at your birth? Sometimes the answer isn’t clear right away, but in the asking, we start the process of deciding, as opposed to simply going along with outside pressures. What things from the pile can you release that is bringing you stress? Thank those things and send them on their way.
And on the other side of the coin, and this is not part of the KonMari method, what can you bring in that DOES bring you joy once you have made some room? The more superficial things can change quickly in labor. You may love candles but hate the smell of them in the moment, or your playlist you LOOOOOOVED might drive you crazy. The deeper and more meaningful things though are more likely to continue giving you joy in the labor process, and cultivating your own inner joy, gratitude and peace will give you a well to draw from. I am personally really excited to have my daughter around during labor, because she is my ultimate joy machine and oxytocin releaser. I’m sure I’ll get to the point where I want to be more alone, but I think much of my labor will be spent enJOYing her sweet presence.
If you’re like me going into my first birth though, you might have a pretty heavy load of fear/anxiety/some other emotion to unload before you can even get to confronting these questions, and that’s ok. You might not even get there for this birth, and that’s ok, too. Birth works even when we aren’t ready for it and its lessons will be just what you need. Meet yourself where you’re at. I once had a woman in a group of pregnant women I was speaking to ask me, “What if I don’t want to make any of these choices? What if I just want someone else to decide?”. I told her that is a perfectly legitimate choice, I really just want people to MAKE the choice, even if it is choosing not to choose (does that make sense?).
This process isn’t important because you want a pretty, Pinterest worthy birth (even though you might!), it is straight up CRUCIAL that you feel private, safe, unobserved and dare I say joyful about your birth environment if you are looking to have an undisturbed/physiological birth. Fear and tension will make labor take longer, hurt more, increase the stress on the baby, and make it less enjoyable all around. So here is wishing you (and me!) a joyful birth <3
To explore these ideas in more depth, get access to 50+ hours of curated content, and join our amazing community of Indie Birth mamas, check out 13 Moons: The Indie Birth Experience. The link is indiebirth.org/13moons