I Used Mindfulness To Have A Painless Labor. Here's My Birth Story
Can giving birth be a comfortable, even painless experience? This question entered my mind the moment I found out I was pregnant with our first child. Because the last two years of my life have been filled with education and training in neurobiology, neuroscience, and quantum healing, I knew the incredible power of the mind over the body. I knew that my thoughts and perceptions determine how I experience reality. I knew that whatever I truly believe is possible....is.
How to change your beliefs, according to science.
We are programmed from the beginning to believe that childbirth has to be an agonizing experience. From movies to stories we hear over and over.
All that has done is this:
I believe childbirth is painful = childbirth is painful because that is what I expect.
My question was, what if I didn't believe that? If my beliefs determine how I experience reality, and I reprogram my mind to think childbirth is awesome—could it be?
My experiment: If I truly believed childbirth could be pleasant—not just consciously but subconsciously—then my experience would change. Simply choosing to think birth is comfortable is not enough, I had to get it into my subconscious mind, which takes repetition, emotion, visualization, and action.
And so I began reprogramming my thoughts and beliefs around birth. A new belief can be formed through constant repetition, visualization, emotion, and speaking affirmations. Over the nine months I was pregnant, I surrounded myself with education that emphasizes the power of the mind, and how to reprogram your subconscious to view birth as a painless, joyful experience. One way I did this was by deeply meditating and visualizing every day and allowing my body to get deeply relaxed and my brain waves to get into a state that allows easier access to subconscious belief change.
We know from neuroscience, deep meditation in a relaxed state physically changes the brain and body. It takes 63 days to physically break down old-thinking neural pathways in the brain and replace them with new ones. This is where most people give up too soon before they see a result. To change a habit, thinking pattern, or belief—it takes daily work on that one thing for a period of time until the brain physically changes and that new belief gets into your subconscious where it becomes who you naturally are without having to think about it.
What I would do every day to change my beliefs:
- Visualize a healthy baby and comfortable birth
- Generate the emotion of gratitude as if the experience already occurred
- Speak decrees, affirmations, and prayers out loud over my body, the baby, and the birth
All of this built my faith and belief in my body and created the possibility of an enjoyable birth.
So, here's how the birth actually went.
I had a home birth planned and ready to go. I felt at peace and was actually excited for the birthing process to begin. Our little one was due on October 7, 2016. That day came and went, along with many other days far past that one.
On October 23, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., my water broke. My heart filled with anticipation and excitement knowing that the time had come. Contractions didn't start until 9:30 p.m. I called my midwife and she advised me to get some rest. From 9:30 p.m. on I felt cramps very low but did not think they were contractions.
I kept feeling that cramping sensation for hours and noticed they were coming in waves so they must be contractions, but they did not hurt—so I was not sure. I laid in bed all night, going in and out of those feelings.
Around 4 a.m. the contractions were definitely strong—and when I lost my focus I could feel uncomfortable—but once I refocused, got in an incredibly relaxed state, labeled the feeling as just pressure, it went back to feeling comfortable. I was blown away with how well it was working. I still felt like I had a while to go because I was not in a ton of pain yet, but...
When 6 a.m. came along, I had to get out of bed. I felt like pushing! My husband called the midwife and she came over right away and checked me. I was 9 centimeters dilated and feeling ready to push.
Of course, things don't ever go "as planned."
This is where the story takes a turn. When the midwife arrived, she immediately saw a ton of meconium (baby poop) and as she checked me, she said baby turned breech. We were shocked because the baby had been head down my whole pregnancy!
In Colorado, it is illegal for midwives to deliver breech babies at home, so she said we needed to go to the hospital immediately. My heart dropped. Fear began to fill me. I couldn't believe what was happening. Then, thank goodness, I remembered: How I react to this situation has a huge influence on what happens next.
Over and over in my mind, I kept visualizing and believing for the best. Surrendering it to the universe, and knowing my fate was in another's hands, and trusting it was good. This baby was coming. I could not stop it. On the car ride to the hospital, I would push on each contraction. At one point I asked my husband to pull over because I thought she was going to come out! Although an intense situation was happening in the car, I was able to stay completely calm, eyes shut, with no screaming, no pain.
Then, we finally got to the hospital.
After I walked into the hospital, they laid me on the bed as many doctors came in to figure out what to do. At this hospital (any hospital really) they never deliver breech and consider it incredibly dangerous. The first doctors that checked me were throwing out warnings of death for me and baby while highly pushing us to begin an emergency c-section.
This whole time, by the way, I am still pushing with each contraction.
Just as they were about to begin c-section prep, the head doctor came in and checked me and said that the baby was already so far down that I could try to deliver it naturally, but if something happened it would be a hundred times worse than a c-section because they would have to cut everything open as the baby was so low.
They immediately rolled me into the OR, threw me on my back, and began checking me over and over. (That was the most uncomfortable part of the whole birth!) The room was filled with more than 10 doctors all staring at me and ready to jump in.
After pushing for a bit, she came out easily and was placed on my chest!
The doctors were amazed. Each one came to me and said they have never seen anything like that before—giving birth with such a peaceful bearing, without any meds... let alone breech! I felt so lucky and blessed this this was the outcome.
My heart was full of joy and gratitude for what had just taken place. The best part? We literally walked out of the hospital five hours later and went home for good.
So, as it turns out, your mindset can make your birth more peaceful.
Of course, things hardly ever go as planned. It may not make everything smooth sailing—I feel lucky that things turned out the way that they did, and know they could have gone south very, very quickly. But even if they had, knowing that you do have the ability to stay mentally strong with inner peace can only help in moment.