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Friday, July 30, 2010

anticipation - and why it does no good

I have a client who is at the 37 week mark. She really wanted a homebirth but, due to Georgia being the way Georgia is, she's having a natural, hospital birth. Anyone who has, or who has tried, to give birth naturally in a hospital-setting knows this is no easy task. It's why I often claim that doulas are necessary birth support for women who plan intervention&medication-free births with doctors. My client is going to show up to the hospital to push, though - which will make fighting off any possibility of IVs and epidurals a lot easier. However, she lives 3 hours north of me. Knowing how important her natural birth is, and knowing how badly I want to be there, I find myself on my toes. I am awaiting a phone call, checking in via e-mail, and trying to find out if she's feeling any signs of early labor.

We e-mail each other often (both having two children, our phone conversations can become quite disruptive), and she recently discussed with me how concerned she is that she will go into labor before her mother-in-law gets into town to babysit her older children. How she is worried about how her husband will react, and how she's stressed she'll go into labor during the day - when her kids are still awake.

Jump backward in time a day, when I tweeted furiously about being nervous beyond sanity about a dental appointment. A dear "internet-friend" of mine responded by telling me to, "release what is not in your control." She went on to tell me that anticipation was, essentially, useless. Immediately, I felt better because she was right.

Stress and anxiety are often defined as the anticipation of an event. Often, when a woman is in labor (particularly, in transition) - she will need to be told, "You have to let go." Once a woman releases herself of hiding and fighting the pain, once she stops anticipating the next contraction - she can release herself from that control. In every birth I have seen, where a woman just accepts her birth in the way that it is, when she stops trying to run away - she begins pushing within a matter of minutes.

It makes sense that this same principle be applied to all aspects of life. Anticipation is the feeling of anxiousness. Anxiety causes heart problems, high blood pressure, headaches, and shortness of breath - amongst other things. What if we just let go of the stress of things that are off in the future? Instead of anticipating the future, what if we promised to just focus on the events as they happen?

I e-mailed my client back and told her, "there is no way to guarantee you won't have the baby before your mother-in-law is there, so don't anticipate what you can't control. Release yourself from that. I know it's hard, but you have to let go of stuff that is not in your ability to change... let [your birth team] stress about [everything]. You have one job and that one job is to birth your baby. We will take care of the rest."

So, I followed my own advice. I handled the things that I could - I charged my camera, printed off directions, and packed my doula bags. However, I don't want to sit there and wonder every second if her baby is on the way. It does me no good, just like it would do her no good. Once she calls, I will take care of things. Labor, and life, are not predictable. It's more sensible to just take care of things as they fall.

Funny that it took a "dental doula" to make me realize how important it is to release yourself and just let go.

Give it a try. You'll feel better.

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