Recalling my first birth is still incredible. It’s one that words can’t match but I remember how overwhelmingly complete I felt. I was so in-sync with my body and amazed to witness nature taking over and allowing my baby to enter this world.

My daily meditation practice during the final stages of pregnancy had a profound effect on my labour and birth. Despite the strength of my contractions, I was able to maintain an awareness of my breathing throughout and, after Jackson arrived, my midwife was astounded and said, ‘That was the calmest birth I’ve ever seen”.

Like most (if not all) mums-to-be, I was fearful to even think about having to go through labour. I would feel anxious hearing others’ horror stories and I avoided the whole topic for months. However the earthy-soul woman that I am wanted to believe it WAS POSSIBLE to have a positive birth experience.

Meditation came to me when I was sixteen and I experienced first-hand how calming it was. I knew that daily meditation would be a perfect way to prepare my mind for the much anticipated event of birthing my baby.

So for the final forty-two days of my pregnancy I meditated.

My daily practice was as short as five minutes and as long as twenty. Easy, right?! There were SO many days when I didn’t want to meditate. But sticking to my plan developed my discipline and perseverance and both of these go a long way during labour.

 

Here are some simple breathing and relaxation techniques I used to prepare for my birth and to remain calm during labour.

Mindful breathing: Bring your awareness to your breathing as you inhale and exhale and take some time to be completely mindful of any sensations attached to these breaths. Eg., notice the sensations just on the insides of your nostrils as you breathe in and breathe out, maybe you can sense your clothing moving ever so slightly as your chest rises and falls, perhaps you become aware of the expansion and contraction of your abdomen, or you might notice a cool sensation at the back of your throat as the breath comes in and goes out.

Counting breaths: Take some time to slow your breaths down. Breathe in for four and breathe out for six. Watch the fresh oxygen travel all the way from your nostrils, down your throat, to your lungs and notice as the breath’s energy continues to travel all the way to the pit of your stomach before coming back up again. Extend your exhale to eight, ten or even twelve, if you can. But be mindful of your limited breathing capacity as a Preggie Mama towards the end of your pregnancy.

Breathing with a visualisation: Choose your favourite part of nature and take your attention there. Allow yourself to experience that whole scene by connecting to the sounds, sights, smells, textures, feelings and anything else that resonates here. Use your breath to direct the scene. Eg., if you are picturing the beach, allow yourself to see the tide come in on your inhale and the tide go out on your exhale, if you are seeing a bird on the horizon, allow the bird’s wings to rise with your inhale and fall with your exhale, if you are watching a tree swaying in the breeze, notice how the tree sways to the left with your inhale and sways to the right with your exhale. Be creative here – anything is possible with your mind’s eye!

Breathing with a mantra: Draw your awareness to within and observe each part of your body. Become aware of any discomfort, unwanted feelings, pain, tension or anything else that needs your attention. Choose one of these that needs the most attention. Create a mantra (affirmation or positive statement) to cater for this need and draw some healing to it. Eg., if you are feeling anxious about your labour and birth your mantra might be ‘I am peaceful’, ‘I am calm’ or ‘I am strong’. As you breathe in, mentally say ‘I am’ and as you breathe out, mentally complete your mantra.

Finally, here are some quick tips on creating a successful meditation practice at home:

  • Know you’re only human if your mind wanders. Be kind to yourself when you realise you’ve lost your focus, let go of the judgements and bring your awareness back to the meditation.
  • Know that some days you will have blissful meditations and other days you will have challenging meditations (sit through all of them).
  • Make it convenient. Create a space in your house that is set up for your meditation practice so you don’t have to set it up each day.
  • Make it a priority. Schedule it in at a certain time of day and ask your family to support you.
  • Make it delightful. Light a candle, play some nice relaxing music and use your favourite blanket and cushions.
  • Plan ahead. Write in your diary what meditation techniques you will use and how long you will sit for.
  • Enjoy it! Use the meditation techniques that feel right for you

What are you waiting for? With love, I encourage you to incorporate meditation into your birth experience. I’d love to hear how you go and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me on brontespicer@gmail.com.

Love and light, Bronte.