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The Anticipation of Birth

Think back to when you found out that you were pregnant or when you told your partner those words, “I am pregnant.” Regardless of the reaction at the time, there was an invisible clock that started. Without words, time began ticking as you started on the journey toward parenthood, perhaps with a mix of anxiety and excitement. This assortment of feelings may continue and carry you right to the long-awaited moment when you meet your little one. Some of the families that I have worked with have shared with me their reflections as they move through all of the stages of pregnancy and anticipate the birth of their baby. There seems to be some common insights…perhaps you can relate… For instance, there are big questions you may ponder, the ones that look deep into the future, such as what kind of a parent will you be, how will you help your little one navigate through life, and how will your child shape your life? When the internal dialogue about life’s big questions has hushed a little, there may be a shift in how the pregnancy is affecting you and your partner. The excitement of telling people may have started to wear off. As an expectant mother, your body is changing; you may feel very energetic or you may feel like you have the flu. You may feel like a goddess or you may feel down right disgusting. Even though there is a wide spectrum of what women experience, it does come back to the fact that you are growing a human. Naturally, that can come with some challenges both physically and mentally. You end up spending your time getting ready for something that seems rather surreal, but that is why you have up to 42 weeks to get prepared. Yes you read that correctly! The weeks of pregnancy can drag on at times and yet at other times it can fly by. You will likely spend some of this time contemplating an upcoming event, an event that will undoubtedly be a pivotal moment for you…birth. You may find yourself visualizing the labour and delivery of your child, questioning your strength and endurance, and asking yourself if you are ready. Of course you are…you just may not know it yet! You and your partner may sometimes feel like you have a handle on the situation and want to make sure that your feelings of excitement are balanced with being prepared. A little preparation for something that both of you have never experienced can go a long way to minimize the anxiety that can be associated with birth. As time passes and the pregnancy progresses, you may start to get some twinges in your third trimester that make you think, “Is this it? Is this game time? Or was it that second helping of dessert because I am eating for two you know?” This is when the anticipation really ramps up and you lay in bed thinking:
  1. Should I go to the hospital?
  2. Is our bag packed?
  3. Should I get up right now and go to the 24-hour pharmacy to pick up the last few things for the bag? (And maybe a tub of ice cream)
  4. Maybe I just have to pee?
Things are about to get real…fast! All of those thoughts that weigh on you are important, especially the ice cream, and as you come closer to becoming a parent, the fact is, no matter what is in the bag or even if it isn’t in the freaking car, you will be fine. As a Doula, I anticipate all of the above for the families that I work with. I go over all of the things that we have spoken about, unpacked, and worked through. I make sure that my life is in order when I am called upon. When I have a client who is due, I sometimes lie in bed and think:
  1. Is my bag packed and in the car?
  2. Did I remember to fuel up the car?
  3. Is my phone charged? Is the ringer loud enough that it will wake me up at 2am?
  4. Maybe I should get up and pee and check on all of that?
If you have the privilege to go through pregnancy and birth, the main thoughts should be focused on you and your family that is welcoming this little human in to our world and to try to keep all of the outside distractions to a dull roar, even if ice cream is on sale at the 24 hour pharmacy. In addition to the specific things that new parents and doulas pack in their birth bags, I think there are other essential items that are a little less tactile. What you really need to have with you are realistic expectations, the ability to roll with things, support from loved ones, experience from your health care team, your own instincts, respect for the time it takes for a baby to join this world, and an appreciation for the process. Although less tangible, these are the most important items to be packed. In the end, as a parent, partner, family member, or doula, you should try to take a step back and breathe for a moment to allow some clarity to be brought to all birthing situations. Take a minute to oxygenate that brain and assess what is going on, what action needs to be taken to get the desired result, and move forward. Birth is about the journey as much as the end result, so as you anticipate going down the road I hope that you can distinguish between the things that you think you need and what you really need: an abundance of patience and an open heart.  

Written by Kelly Carrington - Registered Massage Therapist and Certified Doula

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