I have your attention now, don’t I? We all know that there is no perfect in life or birth, but often things do come close. The definition of utopia is an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching a movie about golf, and more importantly, about life, Seven Days in Utopia. It was full of many lessons that are applicable in life, and also I believe, in pregnancy, labor and childbirth. It is a story about a fictional golfer’s (Luke Chisolm) change of heart after spending 7 days in the town of Utopia, Texas.
One of the first lessons for Luke is that of having total conviction regarding every choice, starting with his grip of the golf club. In pregnancy, there are a lot of choices to be made. Whether women and couples know it or not, they are making choices. They makes choices regarding their caregiver, their birthing location, how they want to give birth, what things they do during their pregnancy or don’t do to improve or maintain their health and nourish their growing baby. Having conviction is important. It takes this conviction to not be easily swayed but others around us. We must figure out what choices we are making and have made all ready. We should research them some more if needed. As we figure out why we are doing what we are doing, or why we want to do what we have planned in the future, we can then be certain and press forward with resolve. As well-meaning friends or family, or temptations come along, we will have no problem sticking to that resolve. We will be doing what we know to be the best thing for us and our child, and there is much power in that.
Next, Luke spends a day fly fishing where he learns the need for emotional control and finding “rhythm, balance and patience.” First, emotional control, is very important while making decision, and while dealing with others, particularly our children, spouse, and loved ones. That is not to say we don’t have other emotions. That is to say we control those emotions. I have found time and time again, that I am a much more effective mother and spouse when I manage to stay calm amidst the periodic storms of family life. In labor there is a lot of power in finding that inner calm and focusing on what makes your labor most effective, in being present rather than trying to run away.
Rhythm, balance, and patience also play a huge role in pregnancy and especially labor and childbirth. In pregnancy it is important to find our rhythm, what is our daily routine, what rhythm helps us to have energy and joy in our day-to-day life while pregnant. In labor finding our rhythm includes rocking, swaying, vocalizing, even dancing to the rhythm that feels natural, that comes from us without us thinking about it. Balance in pregnancy would include balance of our time and efforts, our exercise, our nutrition. Who has not found that life can seem quite unmanageable when out of balance, and pregnancy can also be more problematic or less enjoyable when our lives are out of balance. Balance in labor would include alternating positions as they come naturally, being sure to eat and drink as needed, not having too much of any one position in labor. I find that women often naturally alternate their positions while laboring, as one position for too long does not feel good or right any more.
Patience needs little explanation. Throughout pregnancy, but especially towards the end, it can be so hard for us to sit back and wait, to enjoy the moment. When I was younger, and even as a young mother, I was always so worried about looking ahead to the next milestone. I couldn’t wait to be 12 or 16, then I couldn’t wait to be married, to have children, for my first child to talk and walk and eat solid foods and on and on. At some point I learned a valuable lesson, to live in the moment. I realized that I was missing out of so much of life by being in such a hurry to get to the next step. As I learned to be present in my day-to-day life, and enjoy the stages I and my children were in as we moved forward, the next stages would come soon enough. I have found myself finding much more joy and satisfaction.
It is the same with pregnancy, and it is especially important with labor. No woman knows what labor will bring her. Even those of us who have birthed before are often caught off guard by a much longer labor or a much shorter labor. While laboring, if we can find our rhythm, have balance, and then add patience, allowing ourselves to be present in our labor, not trying to rush it, or escape it, we will find that we and our babies work together well within the power our body is providing and our babies will come soon enough. Patience can help give us added strength and resolve to keep going when we don’t know how much longer it will take, as is often the case with labor.
One of the final lessons involved the acronym SFT. SFT stands for See it, Feel it, Trust it. This referred to the importance of seeing the shot, feeling it, and trusting it. Of course it applies to tons of other areas in life as well. In pregnancy, there is a lot of power in picturing our labor, seeing ourselves labor well, seeing ourselves work well with our body, seeing ourselves fully trust our innate ability to labor and birth. As we picture ourselves doing these things ahead of time, it helps it to become a reality. Feeling it, involves feeling the power of our labor and our body bringing our baby closer to us. We work with our body, we are present to feel every aspect and what is helping and what is not. Trust it. This is key. Each woman has within her all that she needs to birth her baby. Just as we do not have to tell our bodies how to form and grow our babies, we do not have to tell our bodies how to labor and birth. We must learn to trust ourselves, our bodies, our babies, the power we have deep within to labor and birth.
Finally, Luke was in touch with many lies he and others had told him about himself over the years and many truths he had learned over the seven days in Utopia. He was instructed to write all of the truths on one page and keep it, and write all of the lies on another page and bury it. Pregnant women tell themselves and are told many lies, things such as, you can’t handle the pain, you are not strong enough, you will not be able to do without an epidural so why even try, you are not ready to be a mom, and many many more. If each of us were to take some time to write down all of the lies we have told ourselves and others have told us and bury it, and write down the truths and hold on to them, refer to them when we are starting to believe the lies again, how much more power would we have? What a truly life altering experience it could be.
To sum it all up, birth in Utopia involves living with and making each choice with conviction and deliberately, knowing why we do what we do and being sure of what we are doing; having emotional control, and finding rhythm, balance, and patience in our lives and labor/birth; SFT or seeing it, feeling it, and trusting it; and burying the lies in our lives and holding on to the truths. These lessons are powerful, can be life altering, and birth altering as well.