I confess that I struggle with letting go and giving up control. It’s just how I am wired. But it is also something I continually work on.
However, labor and birth is definitely a time that you MUST let go. Labor and birth cannot be controlled (though people often try and it usually complicates things). I receive many emails from students who are near or past their due dates who are trying everything within their control to get labor going. Just as a watched pot doesn’t boil, an anxious mama who is trying to remain in control will not labor (at least not well, anyway). Over the years, I have found the practice of intentionally letting go to be very helpful. As a Christian, my practice of letting go usually involves prayer and a good cry, but that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. So, I thought I would share another simple way to go through the process of intentionally letting go that I have found very helpful, both personally and to my students as well.
- Get into a quiet, comfortable place where you will not be disturbed (this used to be the baby’s nursery for me when I was pregnant). Turn down the lights… maybe light a candle or two. You want to create a space that is relaxing and where beneficial hormones can flow.
- Use lots of pillows and get into a comfortable position, either sitting up or lying down and rest with your hands open, palms up to let go or receive. Yes, sometimes postures really do matter.
- Then, either say out loud or in your head, “I am letting go. I am letting go of…” and begin naming the things you are letting go of. For example, I had to let go of anxiety that things would not go as I hoped they would and that my body would fail me again, among other things. Go down the list and let go of every single thing you are holding on to… every fear, every anxiety, everything you might be trying to control.
- When you are done letting go, begin trusting. “I trust…” and name the things you are instead choosing to trust. Trust that your body and your baby know the right time to begin labor. Trust that you have chosen a wonderful and supportive birth team who will honor you and keep you safe. Trust.
- Having a good, cleansing cry at some point in this process will help a lot, but don’t force it. Simply feel what you feel. I used to sit in the nursery and cry my heart out as I let go and I always felt so much better afterward. Thank you, endorphins!
- And then, throughout the remaining days of pregnancy, when those thoughts start to creep in, stop them and say, “I am letting go” and then let those thoughts go.
- Repeat as necessary.