This is a post in my series on owning your birth. It is my strong belief that your birth experience profoundly impacts your early days with your new child. The way you feel while birthing your baby can inform how you feel about yourself as a person, mother, and partner. If you feel respected, strong, and supported during pregnancy, labor and delivery, you will improve your chances of beginning your mothering journey with confidence and hope. If you feel disrespected, controlled, or unheard during pregnancy, labor and delivery, you may enter your mothering journey with fear and sadness.
Birth is normal and breathtakingly beautiful. But it is also mysterious and unknown, sometimes overwhelming and scary. With any labor and delivery, you can have an experience that is woman- and mother-centered. Feeling respected and heard, and experiencing your own strength and power during birth, comes down to owning the experience, even in its uncertainty. And often still, things won’t go as you expected. If you are surprised, overwhelmed, or sad about your birth experience, you will be better able to confront it and work through it if you feel prepared, strong, and confident enough to reach out for support.
You cannot plan your birth. Birth will takes its own course and we do best when we can let birth happen. But birth can happen best when we are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually at our best. In this series, I’ll share ideas about what you can do to own your birth experience.
Own your Birth: Part 3 of 24
Keep a pregnancy journal
Keeping a journal looks different for each person. For some, it will be reflective, investigative, and free-flowing. For others, it will be practical and used mostly for note-taking, keeping track of ideas, appointments, and priorities. Perhaps it might be a combination of both aspects for many people as well. Regardless of your own personal style, a pregnancy journal will give you a place to keep all of your thoughts, dreams, wishes, concrete details, and questions about your pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum period in one place. I also think that the reflective part of journaling is so helpful. As you reread your entries and reflect on what you’ve written, you may see some common themes emerge. This information can help you determine where you focus your energy and what is most important to you. Below are three ideas to get you started with your first few entries.
As you start this journal, I encourage you to sit down and let yourself dream about your ideal birth experience. Write whatever comes to mind. Who is there? Where are you and what is your birthing environment like? What are you doing? What is your support team doing? What are you doing to manage the sensations? How do you feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually? Try not to doubt yourself or censor your thoughts. Even if you think some of your desires are unachievable or out of reach, give yourself permission to dream and acknowledge them. This will help guide you as you make decisions throughout your pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
As you think about your pregnancy, labor, and delivery, as well as parenthood, what are you most excited about? Capture the happiness on paper so you can look back on it years later! Also, your thoughts here might help guide some of your decision-making.
With the anticipation of giving birth and having a child, there will almost always be some fear. I think this especially rings true in a culture where mainstream depictions of birth involve somewhat scary and dramatic scenes of women giving birth. It’s completely natural and OK to have some fear related to this experience and this transition. Take some time to write down any fears you have. I will talk in a future post about the importance of acknowledging our fears and using them to empower our birth experiences. I’ll also give you some more ideas for journal entries in later posts.
I encourage you to use the journal in whatever way feels best for you! Personally, it was a great way to dream, reflect, and also keep track of logistical information during my pregnancies. It helped me organize my thoughts and keep question lists for my providers, my doula, and my partner. It also helped me work through some of my fears and emotions as I worked towards having a VBAC with my second child. Finally, it’s a great time to set aside for self-care, especially if you have other children. You can make it a nourishing ritual, including a nice cup of tea, some good chocolate, music you like, or anything else that feeds your soul.
If you have used a journal during pregnancy, I’d love to hear how it helped you!
Schedule a free doula consultation
Are you interested in birth and postpartum doula services on the seacoast of New Hampshire or southern Maine? I serve Dover, Durham, Somersworth, Newmarket, Portsmouth, Kittery, Eliot, and surrounding areas.