Transcript episode #63: Tips On Mindset, Environment, Support & Preparation For Your Labor And Birth
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In today's episode, you're going to get some really helpful advice about how to approach labor and birth. This will be especially helpful during this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
Welcome to the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. I'm Dr. Nicole Calloway Rankins, a practicing board certified Ob Gyn who's had the privilege of helping hundreds of moms bring their babies into this world. I'm here to help you be knowledgeable, prepared, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Check out the full disclaimer at www.ncrcoaching.com/disclaimer. Now let's get to it.
Hello. Hello. Welcome to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 63. I so appreciate you spending a bit of your time with me today. On today's episode, I'm going to give you some great advice on how to approach labor and birth and the advice I'm going to share is actually applicable any time, but it's especially important during this coronavirus pandemic. So what I'm going to share with you is some advice on mindset, controlling your environment, support during labor and then preparation. So you will definitely want to listen in. Some great, great information coming your way.
Now before we get into the episode, let me do a quick listener shoutout. This is to Judith LA and the title of the review, she left me this review in Apple podcast says, wonderful podcast. "I love this podcast. Dr. Rankins does a wonderful job at presenting information in a way that is approachable and easy to understand. As a first time mom, I've been on a search for resources to learn about what to expect and have found that this podcast achieves that. Thank you Dr. Rankins." Well thank you so much Judith LA for that lovely and kind review. Of course, I love helping all mamas, but I especially love helping first time moms. I have a soft spot for first time moms because I know how much of it is completely new and can feel overwhelming, so I'm so glad that you find the podcast as a great resource for you. Now. I would love it for anybody to leave a review for me, in Apple podcast. That is a great way for me to know what you think about the show. And it also helps other women to find the show, helps the show to grow. So I really appreciate it when folks take the time to leave me an honest, completely honest review on Apple podcasts. I really, really appreciate it. It really, really helps a lot. And again, I can leave you a shout out in a future episode. So if you feel so inclined, I would appreciate you taking a moment to leave a review.
All right, why don't we go ahead and get into today's episode about how to approach labor and birth. Okay. So the first thing that I want you to do, and I feel like this is probably the most important piece of advice that I'm going to give today. So the first thing I want you to do is I want you to adopt this attitude. And the attitude is this... I will control the things that I can control and I won't be consumed by the things that I can't control. Okay. I'm going to say that again because as I said, this is really, really important...I am going to control the things that I can control and I won't be consumed by the things that I can't control.
I have found this to be very, very helpful for me, especially right now, it's very easy to get wrapped up in fear and with everything that's going on with the coronavirus, that sense of fear or maybe anxiety has gotten even heightened a bit now. Don't get me wrong, fear actually has a purpose and it can protect you in certain circumstances. But fear also has the possibility of getting to a point where it's not serving you. And you can easily get consumed by things that are out of your control. And when that happens, when you get to a point where fear is not serving you anymore, where you're worried about things that are especially out of your control, then fear actually becomes suffering and you're suffering in the moment for something that is actually not even a reality. I hope that makes sense. And let me just say that again because it's an important point.
So when you get to the point where that fear is consuming you, particularly when it's things that are out of your control, then it becomes suffering. So what do you do when you experience fear or worry about something? What's a better way to approach it? So what you want to do is when you feel that fear, you feel that worry creeping up inside of you, I want you to pause, step back and say, what can I control about this situation? All right. So when that fear crops up, what can I control about this situation? You take a minute, you think about the things that you can control, you address those things as best you can, and then do your best to let go of the rest. Okay? So ask yourself what you can control and address those things and then let go of the rest.
So a couple of examples, you cannot control whether or not there will be people in the hospital who have coronavirus when you give birth, you'll have no idea who is there and whose has it and who doesn't. Okay? That can be scary. That can be anxiety provoking. Am I going to be around people with coronavirus? Am I going to be exposed to it? Those are natural and understandable worries. So instead of thinking about those things, take a minute and think about the things that you can control. So, for example, you can control that while you're there. You practice excellent hygiene. You wash your hands as much as you can. You try to limit touching your face. Your partner or support person does the same thing. You insist that the people who are caring for you and your baby wash their hands. Don't be afraid to say, "Ooh, you know what, I'm sorry. You know with the whole everything that's going on, would you mind washing your hands?"
If you don't physically see them washing their hands or if you didn't see them doing the alcohol sanitizing in front of you. You can also wear a mask that provides some level of protection. It's not quite the same as some of the hospital grade mask, but it does provide some level of protection. So you can make a mask at home and there's tons of ways to make homemade mask and you can wear a mask while you're at the hospital to give you some level of protection. And the CDC has come out recently, we should all be wearing masks when we're in public or some sort of face covering in public. So this isn't particularly unusual. And then the other thing you can do, although this isn't directly under your control, it does help give you some information and that is you can ask the hospital what they are doing to protect you.
Is the staff wearing masks for all patient encounters? That's what's recommended by experts in Obstetrics, is that the staff wears mask for all patient encounters. Okay, so you can ask the hospital if they're doing that. You can also ask what they're doing with moms who are positive for coronavirus. They should be separated out in a different area of the hospital to limit exposure to other people. Also, if you happen to be infected with coronavirus at the time you give birth, another question you want to ask is, are you going to separate me from my baby? The CDC recommends separation. The World Health Organization does not. So you can ask what your options are for you and your baby staying together if you prefer that, if you happen to be coronavirus positive when you give birth. Okay. So again, there are some things you can't control.
You can't control who's going to have it when you get there. But you can control your own hygiene, hand hygiene. You can control your own social distancing. You can control asking people to wash hands. You can wear a mask, you can get some more information about what the hospital is doing. So that's just an example of things you can do to control the things you can control and let go of the rest.
Now another example, which is like outside of this coronavirus pandemic, is you may not be able to control what doctor's there for your delivery. That's a possibility at any time. So what you can do is say or ask rather what doctor could be there, like is how they practice in line with what I want for my birth? That's a question that you can ask so you can control getting that information and being as prepared as possible. And I'll talk about preparation in a minute. So that's the thing that you can control is getting that information, even if you can't control who is there. So I hope that makes sense. I talk about this more in my free online class on how to make a birth plan, some questions and things that you can ask. All of that again is about getting control of the things that you can control. Okay?
All right, so the next thing I wanted to move onto is I want you to recognize that you have complete control over your own mindset. All right. Your mindset is something that no one can take from you. Now, yes, people can and will influence your mindset and influence your mental space, but with practice and tools, you can maintain control of your mind and you can keep yourself in a healthy mindset.
Now, healthy, doesn't mean that you walk around happy, go lucky, skipping and happy all the time. What I mean by healthy is that you have a mindset that is serving you and supporting what you need at any given moment. All right, so not necessarily that you're positive and happy all the time. Sometimes other emotions may serve you in a different way or in a different moment. Sometimes you need to get angry in order to have the best reaction overall kind of thing. So healthy doesn't mean positive all the time. It means your mindset is serving you and supporting what you need at any given moment. Now obviously there is a whole discipline devoted to mindset and self-help and all those kinds of things. But let me give you a couple of pointers that I know you'll find helpful.
So one thing that helps with mindset is visualization. And there are a few things that you can do. One is that you can visualize in your mind what you want for your birth. Visualize what it looks like in the hospital. Visualize going to the hospital, visualize what it feels like after delivery. Visualization is a tool that high performance athletes use, business people use in order to help get themselves in the right mindset. It doesn't necessarily mean that that thing is going to happen, but it helps get your mind in the healthiest space. Now another thing you can do for visualization is you can create a vision board. You can do that by old school like, cutting out pictures kind of thing. Or you can do it electronically. Just make it in a word document or PowerPoint presentation kind of thing, a vision board of things that are important for you and your labor and your birth.
Now a second thing you can do, and I've talked about this lots and lots on the podcast, if you've listened before, you know that I am a big fan of meditation. Research studies have shown that meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, pain, depression. It can increase your compassion, your self control, and your focus. So again, I'm a big believer in practice of meditation and you don't have to do it for like hours and hours a day. Even five minutes a day can help. So if you don't already have a meditation practice, that can be really important in helping you maintain that healthy mindset. I have a free guide to help folks get started with meditation. And you can grab that at www.ncrcoaching.com/meditate. It's not very hard to get started. You have to stick with it in order to see some benefits that you have to give it some time and keep with it.
But if you do that, then I promise you you will see some effects. So if you need some help getting started meditating and you haven't already, then go to www.ncrcoaching.com/meditate. Also the apps like Headspace, Calm, those are great resources as well. Okay. And then the last thing that I want to say about mindset is that you can consciously choose gratitude and joy just like you can choose focus on worry. You can also choose to focus on gratitude and joy. And you can do that in a lot of different ways. Folks have gratitude journals or you just take a moment during the day to mention something that you are grateful for. In our family we eat dinner together as a family every night when I'm home. And we always take a moment, most nights, to say something that we're each grateful for. It's something that the girls have actually reminded us of now more than we remember to do, is taking a moment. Each of us says one thing that we're grateful for at the dinner table.
You can also do things like focus on the joy of meeting your baby, focus on the joy of becoming a mother. Focus on the joy of something like decorating your nursery, those kinds of things. So take a moment to focus on gratitude and joy. Now, I don't want to give the impression that you're going to walk around happy and positive all the time, or that you even need to do that. You won't. The reality is that anger, worry, fear, sadness, those are all part of being human. But when you do these things where you're intentional about how you approach your mindset, that thing that you have complete control over, you learn what you need to learn from those more negative states of anger, worry, fear, or sadness. You learn what you need to learn from those.
And you take that to move quickly out of those states if they aren't serving you anymore. So you learn what you need to learn and then move away from that to states of happiness, to states of joy, to states of gratitude, things that tend to be more positive. So again, you'll still have those same emotions and fears of anger, worry, sadness. Those are part of being human. But that intentional focus on mindset helps you learn what you need to learn from them and move quickly away from them. Because we all have peaks and valleys in our life, we just want to figure out ways how to get out of the valleys faster. So give yourself some time, give yourself some grace. These things about mindset are really a lifelong process. You won't be perfect at it and you just keep trying and you get better and better at it, I promise.
I promise. I promise. And sometimes people, I'll also add, need some professional help. You may need counseling. You may need medications to help you with some of these things. And that's perfectly normal and fine as well. Okay? Now I know all of that was a little bit woo woo. But I believe in every word of it. I practice it myself. I have found it incredibly helpful in my life, and I think you will too.
All right. Now I want to focus on some things that are more specific to labor and delivery. One thing people don't realize is that you can control the environment of your labor room and that environment makes a difference in how you feel. I don't know if you listened to last week's podcast episode where I had Keith Bell on. He is an acupuncturist and doctor of Chinese medicine and he talked about how we really underestimate the importance of environment on our health and I agree. We can also control the environment of our labor room to help us feel like we are in a safer and more supportive space.
So some things you can do, I think labor happens best in dim lights. I don't think you should have really bright lights on in the room, so keep the lights low. You can use LED candles or battery operated candles. Can't use real ones because of the fire risk, but battery operated candles. You can also string Christmas lights around the room. That's something that I learned from the midwives I work with and I think it creates a really nice atmosphere in the room. So you can certainly do that. Bring your own. Sometimes hospitals may have them, it's not very common, you can ask, but you can bring your own Christmas lights or bring your own LED candles to use and create the dim atmosphere. You can also ask the nurse, ask the staff not to turn on the lights. That can be something that your support partner does as well is like, "Hey, we want to keep the the room dim. We would like to keep the lights, you know, down and not super duper bright or anything like that because it helps create a more welcoming, supportive environment."
Some other things you can do, you can have comforting things around you, like pictures of people who are important to you. And this can be especially helpful during a time of the coronavirus pandemic where you can't have a lot of people with you to support you. So maybe having pictures around you to help you feel safe and warm and comfort. It may be helpful. You can also have music playing. Bring a wireless speaker, have a couple of playlists. You can have a party playlist and more relaxing playlist. Have music things that are supportive and help you feel safe and comfortable. Some folks do essential oils through diffusers or cotton balls, so all of those things are things that you can control in the environment of your labor room that help you to feel safer and more supported.
Now speaking of support, that's the next thing I want to talk about and by support specifically mean from the people who are with you during your birth. Now, outside of coronavirus times, most of the time you can have as many people as you want with you during labor and birth, but right now you can usually have at the most one person and then hospitals are also permitting a doula if you have a paid contractual relationship with that person. However, some hospitals are not allowing doula, so it may be that one person. So you really want to make sure that the person who's there to support you is actually prepared and ready to support you in your needs. Now a great resource for this is a course called Supporting Her and I am super excited to be an affiliate for this course. It's inexpensive, it's about 50 bucks I believe.
It's not very long, it's like between two to three hours and it's really great information specifically for a support person on how they can best support the birthing person. Go to www.supportingher.com/nicole. That's www.supportingher.com/nicole and check out the course and again, I'm an affiliate for it, which means that if you enroll through that particular link, I receive a commission for it. But I totally, totally support this. I've actually been through the course myself and purchased it myself and went through it myself because I was very interested in it and it's a really helpful resource. So you definitely want to check that out.
Now another thing you can consider for support, particularly in the times of coronavirus is virtual support. Doulas have been rapidly adapting their services in order to provide virtual support. No, it's not exactly the same as having that person there, but it can still be incredibly helpful. So look into the possibility of virtual support. That's an option for you. Some folks are doing it because doulas can't come into the hospital. Some folks are doing or some doulas are doing it because they don't necessarily feel they are can come into the hospital. They may have medical issues that make them compromised, but their immune system where they, you know, don't feel safe going into the hospital. But there are lots of reasons why they're offering virtual support, but it's certainly an option. And you can also have virtual support from anybody really. So if you were planning to have your mother or sister there, you can get an iPad or something that's a larger tablet sort of screen. I'm actually an Android girl over here so you can get a larger tablet, have it there and available to have someone with you on virtual support.
Be sure to bring things like nice long cords, have your chargers there, have a stand so you don't have to hold the thing all the time. Make sure you have wifi available in the hospital or you have data available on your own cell phone plan in order to support those kinds of things. But you can definitely look into virtual support as well and it doesn't mean that you necessarily have to like talk to this person all the time or constantly or just like stare at them because labor can be a long time but you just have that person there and available and you know that they are on that other side if you need them to be there.
All right, and the last thing I want to talk about is being prepared. You really need to understand what is going on with labor and birth. You really need to know what labor is like. You want to know how to push a baby out, things like what should happen in that golden hour after birth and why it's important like delayed cord clamping and skin to skin contact. You want to get more information on things like Pitocin when that's used, what are the risks, what are the benefits? You want to understand what your options are. In a labor and birth, and really the best way to do that is comprehensive childbirth education, childbirth education kind of fell by the wayside, I think in the past few years where not as many women have taken childbirth education. I think that's starting to change as we realize the importance of it and realize that women want to empower themselves with information. And I think now more than ever, it's really important that you know all those things. You understand what's going on with labor and birth.
You know your options because one, it helps you to feel safer, like when you have an idea of what to expect and helps you to feel more comfortable and you're better able to advocate for yourself. So invest in some comprehensive childbirth education. Now, of course, I am partial to my own childbirth education class, The Birth Preparation Course, comprehensive online childbirth education. That online piece comes in very handy right now to ensure you are knowledgeable, prepared, confident, and empowered to have a beautiful birth. You can check out The Birth Preparation Course at www.ncrcoaching.com/enroll, and during these times of the coronavirus pandemic, the course is like over 40% off. So check that out at www.ncrcoaching.com/enroll.
All right, so that is it for this episode of the podcast. Just to recap the advice, number one, control the things that you can control and don't get consumed by the things that you can't control. Number two, remember that you have complete control over your mindset. It takes practice, but you can do it. Some things that are helpful for you in developing that healthy mindset are visualization, meditation, and consciously focusing on gratitude and joy. Remember, I have that free guide for meditation, www.ncrcoaching.com/meditate. Number three, you can control the environment of your labor room, the lights, essential oils, music, things that are comforting for you, like photos. Number four, make sure you have that good support available for you, that the support that you do have is really ready to support you in the way that you need. Check out the Supporting Her course that's www.supportingher.com/nicole and I'm an affiliate for that course. And then finally, number five is to be prepared.
Great childbirth education is more important now than ever to help you know what to expect to feel confident going into your birth, to feel empowered, to really advocate for yourself during your birth. If you need to, of course, check out The Birth Preparation Course. Right now it is 40% off, a little bit over 40% actually, and that's www.ncrcoaching.com forward/enroll. Okay. Last couple of things to tell you. Don't forget to join my free Facebook group, All About Pregnancy & Birth. This is a great group, y'all. Let me tell you, it's growing every day. It's a really supportive community of pregnant women. I'm in the group too and my community manager, Keisha, who's a doula is in the group, but as I said before, and I'll say again, the absolute best part of the group is the pregnant moms in the group and the way they support each other and hop in. It's really just a beautiful thing to see, so you can join that. It's called All About Pregnancy & Birth, totally free. Search for it on Facebook and the link to that is in the show notes. Now, next week on the podcast, we have a birth story episode, always some of my favorite episodes because I love to hear the perspective of women about how their birth experience went.
So do come on back next week, and until then, I wish you a beautiful pregnancy and birth. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the All About Pregnancy & Birth podcast. Head to my website at www.ncrcoaching.com to get even more great info, including free downloadable resources on how to manage pain and labor and warning signs to look out for after birth. You'll also find information on my free online class on how to make a birth plan as well as everything you need to know about The Birth Preparation Course. Again, that's www.ncrcoaching.com and I will see you next week.