Waiting for baby. How many times have I heard this in my lifetime. How many times have I been on the other end of the phone to women sobbing and lamenting the waiting. How many times have I offered listening and love, yet words that echo “there is no due date, come back into your body, trust the process, baby knows when the time is right”.
SO many times have I been the practitioner on the receiving end of these transitional moments that those conversations overlap in my mind like white noise. Yet this is the first time I find myself here as the client; the weepy, conflicted mother-to-be, battling between mind and body, and I am hit with how much I missed in these conversations.
Its easy to say “baby knows best” and “trust the process” when you yourself are not the one in pain, in torment, in conflict, in constant discomfort, in fear and anxiety. It’s easy to look on and say “keep going”. It’s MUCH harder to walk this path. So I’d like to lay out a few suggestions for you as a woman, should you find yourself here, and for you as a practitioner, should you meet a woman here.
There is no due date.
We’ve all heard this one and we all already ‘know’ this – pregnancy is as individual as we are and each pregnancy is as different as each of our children are. So gestation is a guestimate, it’s not even an estimate. “Normal” gestation is up to 42 weeks. Whilst it’s annoying and you want it to be earlier, rather than later, it is still nice to have someone remind you – ‘it’s all still ok. You’re in the realm of ‘normal’.
It can help counter the shitty comments of “Oh still going?!”, “Oh no, this baby will be HUGE!” etc.
Get real about what you’re feeling and express it.
Our feelings are feedback. Expressed feelings MOVE through our body and create shifts within us. Repressed feelings fester and ‘block’ us like a damn where nothing moves and we begin to ‘spit-fire’ off emotions in unproductive ways.
Note: it is the unproductive, repressed emotions, seeking release that see us labeled as “overly emotional or irrational pregnant women”. Expressed emotions allow us to confront what’s hiding underneath, asking to be listened to and once released, create balance and harmony.
So what are you feeling and how can you MOVE it through and out of your body? What do you need to do right now?
For me, anger was a big one. So I took to ‘sessions’ with my husbands baseball bat and my bed. I would swing that bat as hard as I could and rage and yell and scream whatever came up and after the anger left, I could connect with the sadness. I could weep and get honest about what I was most sad about. I could then open up to this within myself by journaling and then include my birth team and husband in processing where I was at. In this way, I was able to shift a lot!
As food for thought, here are some alternative views I’ve picked up along the way with a TCM focus:
Anger is liver energy required for movement within the body, to prepare for labour. Stuck liver energy will manifest in uncontrollable and festering anger, you may develop symptoms of liver dysfunction.
The ‘hidden sister’ of Anger is sadness – so once you’ve moved your anger, can you get in touch with what you are sad about? How can you express this sadness – get honest about it with yourself, then those closest to you who can hold this space for you. Journal it.
Fear and anxiety are kidney energy and is responsible for our nourishing and reproductive energies within our body. Likely stuck energy here will also manifest in fluid imbalance in the body and high blood pressure.
So what are your deepest fears? How can you get honest and open about them? How can you resource yourself to find the answers (fear is asking us to know more). For any situation your are fearful of, how can you empower yourself? Even if your deepest fear came true, what would you do to stay empowered and connected and what would the benefits of this situation be?
Feeling indecisive and scared, perhaps frustrated with yourself at being unable to ‘own’ your choices is gallbladder energy. Gallbladder energy is required to provide courageousness and decisiveness in moving forwards, it gives us strength both physically and mentally. So a deficiency here may see us wavering, uncertain of our truth and with physical symptoms of muscle/ligament weakness, hernia etc.
So get clear. What is an authentic choice for you and where are you subordinating to someone else or a paradigm’s view of what you ‘should do’? What is in the way of you really standing in your power of your deepest and most authentic choice? How can you address this fear? What do you need?
For labour to progress there needs to be a heart/womb connection. How connected are you feeling to your baby and your body? Are you angry or disconnected at either of ‘them’ for any reason? What is in the way of you fully opening up to the love that is within you and around you? What do you need to do to get back in love with your body? What do you need to do to connect to the feelings or beliefs ‘in the way’ (which is actually on the way), to allow yourself to reconnect heart and womb?
What are the beliefs that came up for you or are in your way of full surrender?
Write them down, un-edited.
Where have you picked this belief up from? Why did you pick it up?
How has it served you? What have the benefits been to you in your lifetime by holding on to this belief?
Is this belief one you wish to continue to hold on to or do you wish to let it go?
If you wish to let it go, what are the drawbacks to you in carrying this belief? Can you stretch your perceptions enough to see where the opposite of your belief is true?
What do you need to do to feel most nourished and loved right now?
Fuck all the to-do’s and lists and obligations. What does the deepest part of you really need right now? How can you ask for this? What do you need to do to receive this?
What do you need to do to stay in your loved-up-waiting-bubble?
For me, it has been to remove myself from ‘society’ and all the shitty but well-meaning comments people make. If I’m not constantly around “still going?!”, “Get out baby!”, “no baby yet?!” I can just be here, I can surrender into the love-bubble of my family and inner world and not feel the constant reminder of time or pressure.
Ask yourself: What if this was perfect? What if this was exactly as it was meant to be?
How would holding this belief change the way you feel right now?
How can you move from impatience to gratitude by seeing what this extra day has brought you?
During this time I read a passage in Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans by a retired Navy SEAL Commander, who met every set-back with “GOOD”…
“…When things are going bad, there’s going to be some good that will come from it.
· Oh, mission got cancelled? Good. We can focus on another one.
· Didn’t get the new high-speed gear we wanted? Good. We can keep it simple.
· Didn’t get promoted. Good. More time to get better.
· Didn’t get funded. Good. We own more of our company.
· Didn’t get the job you wanted. Good. Go out, gain more experience and build a better resume.
· Got beat? Good. We learned.
· Unexpected problems? Good. We have the opportunity to figure out a solution….”
So I started to apply this thinking to my every morning: wake up, no labour? Good. I’ve got another day to learn, another day to awaken more and open up more, I’ve got another day to fall in love. I wonder what I will discover today that I didn’t know yesterday?
Then every evening before bed I reflect on my day: What did I learn today? What did I open up to? What am I grateful I experienced today? Thank you baby.
This greatly improved my mental state each and every day and every time my mindset wavered, I’d ask myself these questions again.
I’d encourage you to feel your cervix and yoni
See for yourself that your body AND your baby are actually working towards birth – your body is not static, it is changing every day in readiness and it can be a great ‘comfort’ to feel the physical changes that all this time and pre-labour is working towards.
Create an intention for your birth
For each of my births I’ve had an intention I held during pregnancy and when visualising and preparing for my birth. The funny thing is, I have ‘achieved’ these intentions every time – they just never played out the way I thought they would! So set an intention and be open to seeing all the ways your unique experience is meeting it….
My intention with my first was to empower self. I achieved this, but that doesn’t mean my birth was ‘perfect’. It opened me up and hinted at what was possible, it created a thirst and drive to awaken more within me.
My second birth was to find reverence and body wisdom, which I felt that in empowering my mind the first time, I hadn’t gone as deeply within my body and psyche as I guessed was possible. I achieved this, but I was so ‘lost’ in my body at the time of her birth that I didn’t feel present to my baby.
My third birth was presence. I achieved such clarity of presence to my baby, that I thought was missing in my first and second, that I ‘created’ a birth in which there was no one else around so I was ‘forced’ into presence. It didn’t go to plan, I didn’t get the birth I wanted, but I did get the birth I needed.
With this birth, my fourth, my intention is LOVE and I am hit with how my intention is being met in ways I had not given any gravity to:
· I’ve shifted some major love-blocks with my mum because of this baby. I’ve faced some of my deepest fears, my most ingrained beliefs and I’ve worked to crack them open. This is love.
· I’ve had to ‘fight’ for connection to my body and my baby, stretch myself outside of what I already knew, because it was no longer working. This is wisdom and this is love.
· I’ve fallen even deeper in love with my community and my children – filled with the gratitude of how they hold my space and love without limitation. This is love.
· I’ve been through cycles of disconnection and connection with my husband, probably none more profound than the week of my due date, and I’ve had to face myself more deeply and bare more of my soul, more of my darkness and more of my truth to him than I ever have before. He has met me every time in ways I never thought possible. I am beyond deeply in love and gratitude with him. This is love, love I’ve never opened myself up to before.
So every day, I’m asking myself – “where is the love?” and when I can see the ways in my day that another meaning or layer of love are shown to me, I am profoundly grateful.
This time in between, this opening of the cervix and opening of the soul are excruciating. They are hard to stay with, I understand deeply why we want to escape it, I even stated to the midwife yesterday “I’m not going to lie, that carrot is dangling in front of me” but I’m not ready to tap out yet, I’m not 100% in on intervention to ‘save’ me from this hard part, so I’m willing to trust the process and face each part of myself that I meet each and every day I stay “in waiting”.
I want to honour this process. I want to honour those women who have walked this path before me. Who have said “I will wait for you” and in all their rounded glory have trusted in their body, their baby and the unknown synchronicity of it all.
Thank you for paving the way of what is possible.
For more information on how to have an empowered birth - check out my BIRTH 101 eBook - a guide for couples in creating your best birth.
Julie Tenner is Co-founder of Nourishing The Mother and is The Pleasure Nutritionist. Julie is a Naturopath, specialising in women’s and children's health, with specific focus on awakening women to their full potential – health for the mind, body and soul – creating lasting life change for you and your family by “coming home” to your magnificence.