In the April 2013 edition of Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine, we talked about conditioning our minds for labor. Below are some excerpts from the article, plus 3 great exercises to help prepare our minds for the big day.
Why is it important to be mentally fit for labor?
Any endurance event requires both physical conditioning as well as mental fortitude. When we think about labor like the endurance event it is, it becomes more evident why we’d want to “train for labor”.
There is a saying in sports training that applies equally well to childbirth: “the mind will be willing to quit before the body”. When you are training for an endurance event, such as a marathon or triathlon, you condition both your body and your mind with each training milestone you achieve. The same concept can be applied to getting ready for labor and delivery.
Three exercises to prepare for labor mentally
Exercise #1: Condition yourself to trust in the wisdom of your human vehicle
Action step: Write 3-5 empowering phrases on a piece of paper and read them every day throughout your pregnancy. When you condition your mind by consuming positive messages prior to the Big Day, you are building that ‘muscle’ so you have it to draw from when you need it.
When writing your empowering phrases, choose words that resonate with you and inspire you. Here are some examples to get your ideas flowing
- I am powerful
- I trust in the wisdom of my human vehicle
- My body is a healthy vessel for life
- I was designed to bring life into this world
- My super hero power is making tiny humans
Advanced action step: Look in the mirror and say your sentences proud and out loud.
Exercise #2: Deeply notice your breath.
Action step: Spend 5 minutes twice a week noticing your breath.
Sit in a comfortable position, place one hand on your heart and one on your belly, and observe. Visualize the breath entering your heart. Notice how the breath feels as it comes up over your upper lip and into your nostrils. Notice the cadence at which your chest and/or belly rise and fall. Notice how the oxygen feels as it travels through your body and nourishes each and every cell in your body. This simple exercise will help you develop a conscious connection to the power available in the everyday act of breathing.
Advanced action step: Add moments of conscious breathing in various scenarios over the course of your 9-months and notice how your body and your mind are impacted by the simple act of paying attention to your breath.
Exercise #3: Train with a “why”
Action step: Know your “why”
When you are training for an endurance event, it is typical that along the way there will be days that you do not feel like training. Those are the days it’s helpful to have a purpose for your training. As expectant mothers, we all have similar goals, but the specific motivation that makes each of us tick is unique to us—know what that is.
Advanced action step: Write it down. If you come across days that you just don’t feel like saying your empowering sentences or breathing consciously—read your “why” and remind yourself why you are training for labor and delivery.
Training the mind for labor is similar to training your body– both require a persistent and consistent effort.
Never underestimate the power of your thoughts. Our mind, when conditioned properly, can lead us in performing amazing feats. When we believe in ourselves and what our bodies can do, the impossible becomes possible.
AND REMEMBER… Be patient and loving to yourself.
TrainingForLabor.com in Pregnancy and Newborn Magazine
and here’s the PN mag’s online version of the article, where you’ll find some of these exercises in the “mind” section about mid-way down.