How do you trust your body?

How do you describe how you trust your body? Can you describe to me how you trust your feet to hold you as you walk? How you trust your heart to keep beating without you telling it to? How to trust your digestive system to pull out the nutrients you need and discard the rest comfortably, correctly and completely?

 

How do you describe trust?

 

I can’t.

 

 You must find your own way. But I can describe to you some of the ways I learned to trust my instincts.

 

The first time I let my child’s fever go “untreated” (meaning, I didn’t use Tylenol), it was high. Like 104.2 or something like that. I was scared. I called a friend who reassured me that her kids’ had had a fever that high. She reminded me of all the things I had told her that I believed about how the body is using this fever to heal my child. She just reminded me to listen to how I feel, rather than what I’ve always believed to be true. It was the first time I remember fully trusting my instincts. The first time I remember consciously going against everything I’d ever been told. It was a turning point to my parenting style.

 

Another time I had to trust an outside source. My (then) 3 year old got caught underneath the shop door (garage door – only HUGE, heavy. … we owned an auto repair shop at the time – yeah. One of those HUGE doors!) he wasn’t under it long, but it did close completely on him. I immediately headed to the doctor, while my husband called them so they could get me in right away. (we knew a clinic visit would be cheaper than the ER, so that worked for us at the time, this was years ago, before urgent care was a thing). The doctor spent 5 minutes looking at him. Barely touched his stomach and didn’t order an x-ray. I walked away with no more assurance than when I went in. I then called my friend, whose husband is a chiropractor. He got my son in immediately, and did an x-ray. He explained that the doctor would’ve been looking for internal injury, and was going by the fact that my kid wasn’t crying he was fine. – at that point in my parenting I wasn’t ok without more tests. The x-ray reassured me. And I learned a lot about myself in the process.

 

You see, we all must get to the point where we come across whatever it is that we need to learn to trust our own instinct. I always hope my kids learn that as a child, so they can start learning their parenting instincts sooner than I did. But time will tell with that one.

 

Trust. NOUN

firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

"relations have to be built on trust" synonyms: confidence · belief · faith · freedom from suspicion/doubt · sureness

 

 

Firm belief in the strength of someone or something.

 

So what does it take to find this firm belief? Usually a firm belief comes from experience. In childbirth, we want this firm believe before we birth our own first child. How do we get the firm belief if it usually comes from experience but our society is so disconnected from birth that most have never seen a birth before its their turn? We have to work harder to educate ourselves. We have to take what we learn to heart. We have to shift our thinking and learn to listen to our instincts in our everyday life.

 

I can usually come up with a birth comparison to pretty much any situation. I’m sure my non-birthy friends find it super annoying. I’ll say “it’s like in birth….”. ok, realistically I know that not everybody isn’t going to think about birth so much that they start doing that. But when you’re pregnant, you can and will be thinking about THIS birth that much. Take some time each and every day to connect with your baby. To visualize the perfect birth. To imagine how your birth is going to go. We also have to keep a realistic view, but there’s an abundance of places where you can find what can go wrong. For now, we’re going to simulate perfection through visualization:

Get a yoga mat, a soft, thick blanket, a cushion, etc. Sit cross legged on the floor. Close your eyes (ok, after you read this…). Sit with your hands on your belly. Breathe. Take 5-10 quiet slow breaths. Or until you feel your mind is clear. It may be helpful to find a guided meditation or relaxation audio (audible, youtube, podcast, pandora, “weightless” is a good one). Listen to your baby. Yes. (Baby will “speak” to you when you learn to listen. You won’t hear anything. But you’ll fell it deeply. You’ll KNOW. It may take a few times of doing this to understand what that means. It’s ok. Keep at it.) After you’ve listened, now speak. In your mind. Go through what your perfect birth WILL look like. Start with where you’ll be when you go in to labor.

Who’s around you? 

How do you feel? – be detailed. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually.

What do you hear? Smell? Taste?

What sounds are you making? Low hum? Singing? Talking? Laughing? Crying?

Are you moving? Maybe dancing? Swaying? Rocking back and forth? Squatting? Walking?

Stay in that ‘birth scene’. Let labor intensify. What changes? How do you react through these? Go through the above ‘list’ again. Has it changed? What changed? Why?

Now move into the ‘birth’ part of your scene. What positions have you moved to? Is there someone telling you to move? I hope you’re envisioning a birth where you are in charge of your own movement. If not, readjust and do that. Remember, this is your PERFECT birth. There are no fears in this manifestation. Everything in this is just right. Stay in that place for a bit.

Who caught your baby?

Now move into holding your new baby. And go through the questions again, also adding

                How does this new life smell? Feel?

                How do you now feel? Empowered? Strong?

 

I hear you. The skeptical one. The fearful one. The one who says “but what if…” We talk about those later. It’s ok to let all of that go for a little while and let yourself acknowledge what you want perfection to look like. Tell your partner. Journal about it. Let it BE REAL. Tell your baby how amazing you and him/her will work together to make this REAL.

 

This is the power of positive thinking.

 

I think the biggest thing that helped me, personally, was reading birth stories. Many many birth stories. I loved the ones in Ina May Gaskin’s books. I loved the book Baby Catcher, by Peggy Vincent. (she’s a midwife, so the birth story is from her perspective, rather than the mamas, but I LOVE them all!). or just look online. There’s so many birth stories out there now! I have all 6 of mine on my blog. I may eventually have some from my clients posted, but I haven’t yet. Also look on youtube. If you want a natural birth, if you want to learn to trust your body to do what it was designed for, search “unassisted birth” and “freebirth” and only watch those. You can train your mind to not fear.

 

I can always go on a rant about how the medical system looks for problems. How we’re set up to fail before we’ve even peed on that stick. We can keep a healthy level of respect for those in the system, while maintaining our autonomy. While insisting that WE are the ones in charge of our own birth. It is possible to birth from within the system without becoming part of the system. It’s hard, and sometimes you must advocate for yourself in a way you feel no human should ever have to, let alone a laboring mama, but it’s possible to have an amazing birth wherever you choose to go for your birth.

 

Trusting yourself is key.

 

Not only do you need to trust your body’s ability, and to trust your instincts to guide you, but nowadays, you also must trust your ability to stand up for what you want, in the face of hospital policies that were written by people who you will never meet. Practice saying “I respectfully decline” and “do you have a waiver you need me to sign?” That is so much more than just trusting your body. Trusting your body is easy once you get outside of your head. Turn off your thinking brain. Go back to your happy place that you find when you meditate and listen to your baby.

 

If you’re birthing at home, your mind shifts. You know there’s no equipment surrounding you. That ‘safety net’ (as many call it) is gone. It puts you into a more instinctual mode. That’s not to say that you can’t go there in a hospital or birth center too, but it’s easier in your own environment. Bringing things to the hospital from home are said to help. I suppose that depends on your personal needs. I’ve watched labor slow when it was moved from home to the hospital. I’ve also watched it remain the steady speed and continue down the same path during the move from home to hospital. For myself, I had pretty tame hospital births. Or so I thought. Until after I had a freebirth. Then after I looked back at my hospital births, I realized how much control I handed over to the hierarchy, to the system.

 

It can be hard to know where your choices and thoughts came from. If they’re right for you or if it’s something you want to be the right way for you. Either can be true and sometimes you don’t even know. Until you do know. Consider if you’re making a choice because you feel it’s your only option, or if you’d still make that choice if you had every possible option available to you. A fall back choice, or a bullied choice isn’t really a choice. Do you need to question your reasons? Are you really at peace or are you second guessing yourself? Second guessing is good. It can affirm your choices or help you adjust.

 

When you’re wondering about things, your ‘sure’ moments are always there. But then you convince yourself that you need to question it. Maybe something makes you sad and makes you wonder ‘what if’. But you KNOW in your heart that you’ve made your choice and that it IS right for you. You KNOW. Even though you’ll still have moments where you’re sad or unsure, deep down you still know.

 

You have to trust that you do have the power and the wisdom within yourself. To gain that trust, you have to listen to your body, and practice listening to your body. You have to make your instincts part of your everyday life. Motherhood started at conception, birth is just a milestone. You’ve been using your instincts already, during pregnancy. Quiet your mind, and listen to them. They will not steer you wrong!