Waiting for Baby: Discovering Harmony in the Days Before Labor
by Kathryn Mello
May 26, 2011
Pregnancy is a phenomenal experience in and of itself, but the magic of giving birth is even more mystical. The last days leading up to labor are often anxiously awaited and endured with many uncomfortable conditions—such as extreme fatigue, sciatic, hip and back pain, diarrhea, and insomnia to name a few. Yet, no matter how restless or eager you may be during your last days with baby in utero, it’s nearly impossible not to feel excitement for the new life you’re about to grace into the world.
Physical Signs of Labor
While there are a number of physical signs that suggest labor is impending, there are many pregnancies that continue on, well past the due date, for unknown reasons. It is in situations like these where labor becomes a mystery, in which all pregnant woman hope to soon answer the magical question—when will my baby arrive.
At 39 weeks pregnant, I continued to experience nearly every sign of labor in the book—6 cm dilated, 90% effaced, increasing Braxton Hicks, nesting instincts, loose stools, sporadic bouts of nausea, loss of my mucus plug, extreme vaginal and perennial pressure and menstrual like cramps, yet still no sign of regular contractions.
As each day passed, I continued to search the internet for an answer to the question of when my baby will come. With my discomforts increasing and the anticipation growing I started feeling angry and nervous. Angry that I couldn’t live with the comfort and mobility I was used to and nervous for the work ahead, despite having a beautiful and peaceful labor with my first child.
After weeks of dilating, effacing, and showing many other signs that labor was near, I finally realized there are more dynamics involved than just the science of labor. Yes, my body waits to go into labor until my baby releases a special hormone that triggers my body into labor, signifying that he’s ready to enter the world. But after spending night after night reading about the science of labor and what triggers it, I realized the answer was far from any information available from a book, website, or even doctor.
Finding Harmony Within Yourself
I needed to look deep within myself, and realize that the energy wasn’t yet perfect for my child to be born. So many women spend their final days of pregnancy impatiently waiting—understandably—for their child to come, that they forget to nourish the bond they’ve already begun to create with their baby. With this new awareness, I intended to spend each of these last days and hours of pregnancy focusing on the love and beauty of this phenomenon, rather than dwelling on the pain and restlessness many woman face by the end of their third trimester.
In an attempt to relax and reconnect—and perhaps spark the ‘onset’ of labor—I went for a massage. It was no surprise when my massage therapist performed Reiki on me and suggested that my root chakra was imbalanced. For those who are unfamiliar with Reiki, it is a spiritual Japanese practice that focuses on the ‘life force energy’ that flows within the body through seven chakras (or energy centers). If the energy within your body is not in harmony then the body can become stressed or ill. The root chakra (positioned at the bottom of the pelvis) is the first and foundational chakra from which energy flows throughout the body. It represents a sense of belonging, safety, stability, security in the world, survival and being grounded. When imbalanced, the root chakra can lead to feelings of anger and nervousness.
It wasn’t until I was informed of this imbalance that I was finally able to look deeply into my body and mind to realize what exactly needed to be done for my son to be born. Weeks of unease and anticipation had led me to become so ungrounded that my stability and strength were undermined. Unable to practice yoga because of sciatic and pelvic girdle pain, my body was not in harmony. I needed to calm down, stop questioning the future, and take gratitude and peace from the present moment.
Your body might show all the physical signs of readiness for labor, but if your emotional health is not strong or prepared then your baby might not feel comfortable, yet, coming into this world. It’s easy to get caught up—even overwhelmed—with the physical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth that the important element of mental strength and stability gets overlooked. Labor can be extremely psychological, even during prodomal and early labor, so don’t forget to take good care of your own health to ensure your baby is born into a happy and secure environment. Your last days of pregnancy will be much more enjoyable if you can stop dwelling on the mystery of when your baby will come, and start appreciating the magic of cradling two beating hearts in your body.
Suggestions to Help Re-root and Harmonize Your Body in the Third Trimester
Practice Yoga: Even if you’ve never tried yoga, pregnancy is the perfect time to embrace the physical and mental benefits yoga has to offer. Check out local prenatal yoga classes or try a prenatal yoga dvd. Taking the time to focus on your breath and practice basic poses—such as child’s pose or down dog—will help relax your mind and body. Stretch your back, loosen your hips, and open your mind. You’ll feel like a new woman.
Relax & Meditate: Find a peaceful environment to rest your eyes and mind. Breathe. Listen to your body but let your thoughts pass. Meditation helps relieve stress and nourish your mind. If your body is experiencing too much physical ailment to practice yoga, take the time to meditate. It will energize and revitalize your inner-self. Feel the warmth of a burning candle. Fill the air with sweet fragrances. Take a calm bath, lie back on a bolster, sit in the sun. Find a place where you can release all your thoughts and tensions. George Clinton puts it best by singing “once upon a time called right now.” Live calmly and consciously in the present moment.
Keep a Writing Notebook: I emphasize the word notebook instead of journal because a notebook allows for much more than personal writing. While writing about your thoughts and feelings is a wonderful way to address your well-being and keep record of pregnancy memories, a writer’s notebook also allows for other writing opportunities, such as poetry. Even a novice writer can attempt to write poetry. Such playful writing can help you hash through your feelings and expose what’s really important in your life. Even after your baby is born, writing is a wonderful way to relax and savor memories that might otherwise get forgotten. Keeping a writing notebook (addressed to your child) about the first few years of your baby’s life is far more valuable than any baby book or scrapbook. Writing requires you to listen to your body. You can’t overcome any thoughts or feelings of concern until they are exposed, and writing provides a great medium to express yourself.
Kathryn Polk is a young mother, writer, English tutor for speakers of other languages, and an entrepreneur. After getting her professional writing degree in 2009 from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Kathryn started a small sewing business for new moms and babies called Motherly Touch. She now lives on the Southeastern coast of North Carolina raising two young children and expecting her third this summer!