This week’s class was the birth rehearsal and each expectant couple arrived with pillows, birth balls and comfort measures bags in tow. From the very first class, I stress that they are not just preparing for the labor and birth; they are preparing for parenting and partnering as well. Each week, with every exercise and exploration, every comfort measure and coping skill, I try to connect its value to both the birth and beyond.
In this class, as they unpack their cars and tote in armfuls of labor “essentials”, I jokingly remind them this is practice for all the “essential” baby gear they will be soon be schlepping everywhere they go. (You know those babies…they just aren’t complete without all the accessories! More on that thought in a minute.)
Soon, they are in “labor” and the discoveries of the previous 5 weeks of class are being strung together in the context of this birthing rehearsal. In previous classes we have explored many options for how moms might work with their labor and many of them learned early on their own personal styles of relaxation and rhythm. Tonight is another opportunity for each couple to try out a few particular comfort measures they think might work for them, explore some meaning and some manner of connection and become empowered together. This is the fascinating part…to see which style works best for which woman and for each couple.
Some are “innies“. They enjoy focusing their breath, their thoughts, their BodyMind inward and often their partner becomes the container of that energy. You can feel it. There is something quite remarkable there…that “contained” focus, strength, and connection is powerful and palpable and it is easy to imagine that it remains and grows between the couple after the birth of the baby.
And then there are the “outies“. With great attention and intention, these moms place their concentration on something outside themselves, and draw great strength from the meaning and value of this focus. Here, partners open the space a bit and flexibly support her need for this extension beyond the “container of the couple”. Here is a reflection of the reality of the family…where there is movement…both toward and away from the twosome. The need of the laboring mother to find what works for her is honored. This ease of acknowledging each other’s personal needs, and holding the space for each other in it, is the true “essential” for partners who are also parents.
So which one will you be? An “innie” or an “outie”?
More than likely, you’ll be both and your labor, like your life,
will ask you to welcome both at different times.
At the end of class, as each couple loads up all their comfort measures “accessories”, and cart them all back home with them, I have to wonder: how much of the “stuff” will they use in labor? What will truly be essential? Of course, in Confident Birthing we are big on birth options, but…just like babies don’t actually need all those “accessories”, everything a laboring woman needs is pretty much standard equipment as well. And the partner who keeps her in the driver’s seat for her birth will most likely find the trip rewarding too.