By Olivia Hinebaugh

As I reflect on the process of giving birth to my two children, there is a quote that rings true to the experience.
Don't think of it as pain. Think of it as an interesting sensation that requires all of your attention.

- Ina May Gaskin
Within this mindset, labor and birth can be a beautiful and wondrous time. Too often we hear stories that focus on the pain, on the complications, on the drama of it all.

This does not mean it isn't uncomfortable sometimes, it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, it doesn't mean there won't be moments where you think, "I want this to end." Accept the pain and discomfort and pay attention to what's going on in your body.

Everyone describes the sensation of contractions a little differently. When it comes time for those first strong contractions--the ones that take your breath away, the ones where you need to focus inward and not on the busyness around you--allow yourself to feel it.

You may be able to feel baby pressing on your cervix. You have never felt anything like this. You may be able to feel your pelvis flexing and be acutely aware of where your thighs join your hips. You may be able to feel your uterus flex in a way that feels exactly like a really tough workout. But the bottom line:

You have never felt anything like this.

When baby's head starts to descend, it is a new primal, powerful feeling. Your body has already done so much good work to get you dilated and open. The urge to push is like nothing you have ever felt before.

You have felt baby kick and roll. But you have never felt her head, right there, about to be born. Take a few deep breaths in that moment. Remember what you are doing and who you are about to meet.

Feel yourself stretch. You've never been this open, this alive, this strong. Somehow you can be that strong and that pliable and that blissful and that exhausted. And it feels...

It feels however it feels.

But pay attention. Because it is unlike anything you have ever done.