HAVE YOU HEARD OF GENTLEBIRTH?
I hadn’t…although I hadn’t heard of a lot of things before we got pregnant. I didn’t know what a midwife was, I had no idea what my pelvic floor did (besides mind its own business mostly), I had no idea how many options and choices I had for labour and delivery. My ignorance knew no bounds….and to be frank…I didn’t really care! Before we got pregnant my interest in pregnancy was zero. I was never the one to obsess over babies or want to hold them. I knew I wanted kids…one day…but the whole ‘pregnancy’ thing kinda bugged me out!
As an athlete and fitness coach I hated the idea of my body going through so much change…the permanence of which I had really built up in my mind. And birth? YUCK. To be fair, my only real experience with birth was watching What to Expect When You’re Expecting (great movie…not an amazing educational resource though…). You know the day in Grade 9 science class they show your “The Miracle of Birth”? Yeah, I was away that day….and glad of it.
THE POINT IS, UNTIL IT WAS MY PREGNANCY I REALLY DIDN’T CARE ABOUT ANY OF THESE THINGS.
But these last 9 months have been an incredible learning experience. I feel like I opened a door to a whole new world of knowledge, experience, and opportunity. Turns out, there is a lot to know about becoming a Mom! Did you roll your eyes reading that? Hah, me too. In today’s post I wanted to share with you a very special resource that became a big part of my pregnancy journey….introducing….GentleBirth!
But wait, we skipped ahead. Before there was GentleBirth…there was just my clueless self and my husband navigating the deep dark ocean of pregnancy, labour, and birth. As clueless as we felt, we weren’t without hope. My own mother practised obstetrics for nearly 15 years. My mother-in-law is a labour and delivery nurse for pete’s sake! Oh and they gave birth to perfect children so there is a lot of credibility there. We are surrounded by knowledgeable, nurturing women who have a lot to share about this whole pregnancy thing. But you know what’s funny? Even though we aren’t teenagers anymore…there was something about listening to our parents that triggered our rebel teenager brains into thinking we needed to know more than they did. Ludicrous, really. But as most of you will agree, there is something very satisfying about learning things on your own (even if it’s exactly what Mom and Dad said all along….never let them know that). So, we set out to accumulate as many resources as possible to learn as much as we could about pregnancy, labour, and delivery in the year 2018.
FIRST STOP: HIRING A DOULA.
In the weeks between peeing on a stick (weee!) and announcing to the world we were expecting, I devoured a ton of information — blog posts, articles, books, apps etc. I was a reading fanatic and wanted to be an expert on all things my body and my baby. WELL, it turns out that is a lot of information to navigate! And guess what? A lot of it is conflicting! DO this, DON’T do that, ALWAYS take this, NEVER take that etc. Good grief. Even with the support of our wonderful mothers, friends, family it felt like we needed a grounding source. Someone to support us through pregnancy and into post-partum who had been there, done that, and was well-read on the latest and greatest in all things pregnancy. Enter: our fabulous doulas.
We reached out to Jaklyn Andrews at Oakville Family Birth. I came across her Facebook page and fell in love with the content she was putting out and her voice to pregnant women and their partners. Read through her website and tell me you wouldn’t want that kind of love, support, and encouragement to be part of your birth experience! Now, the craziest thing happened when we met with Jaklyn for the first time….we met her partner Nicole from The Stork’s Nest Doula. These two wonder women work together to support pregnant couples throughout their entire pregnancy (as a team!). Which means, on our big day we don’t have to worry about getting a ‘backup’ doula we have never met. We get either Jaklyn or Nicole, who we have been interacting with for months and know both very well! What a concept. TWO doulas just for us! Now, because our big day hasn’t arrived yet (sometime this week hopefully!) which means we have yet to experience the full force of their doula power, I will save a full recap on our experience hiring a doula for a later post…but what I must mention is that it was our doulas who introduced us to GentleBirth…
Maybe you’ve heard of hypnobirthing…
…or the idea that you can train your brain for labour — a combination of mindfulness, meditation, and progressive relaxation. GentleBirth is an app that provides all three! Each day the app recommends a daily practice of audio tracks to prepare you for fertility, pregnancy, parenting, body positivity, breastfeeding and beyond. You can listen to your GentleBirth app while in the bath at home, stretching at the gym, or taking the train to work! By listening to the audio tracks you will practice mindfulness, positive affirmations, and breathing techniques to prepare for a positive birth experience. Our doulas recommended I try the GentleBirth app as a relaxation technique before bed. I spent many nights listening to my GentleBirth app as I laid on my bedroom floor performing the symmetry sequence prescribed by my pelvic floor therapist. The ultimate in relaxation meeting preparation.
WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO PRACTICE MINDFULNESS DURING PREGNANCY?
Hmm….let me see…because it is nearly impossible to live in the moment when you are counting down the days until you meet your baby!! Your whole world feels like a ticking clock, marching forwards to the ominous “due date”. Taking some time for self-care, rest, and restoration is so important. Most of us are go-go-go and pregnancy can really force us to take a step back and change our pace. Listening to those audio tracks has been a really relaxing and rewarding experience and I am so looking forward to using them during labour to cope with contractions or ‘surges’ as the app would say. Before pregnancy I was not someone who practiced mindfulness regularly, I am horrible at slowing down and taking time for myself. My idea of self-care has always been a killer workout that leaves me breathless lying on the ground….not exactly a candlelit bath kind of gal. But I needed this app. I needed the reminder to take it easy on my pregnant body. I needed to practice positive affirmations about my body’s ability to grow this little human and cope with the changes that come along with it. I highly recommend downloading the app and giving it a try, your first 7 days are free! Pregnant or post-partum, we all need time for self-care and a little mindfulness practice goes a long way.
HERE COMES THE BEST PART….
Because of our wonderful doulas introducing us to the app I have had the pleasure of getting to know Tracy Donegan, the founder of the GentleBirth app and testing out her latest creation, the GentleBirth online course! I cannot recommend this course enough. For someone like me who knew so little going into pregnancy I have learned a TON! There is so much content in here, I cannot recommend this course enough. From understanding pain science and the physiology of labour and birth to training the brain to reframe stress and fear, choosing the right provider team and knowing the options that are available to you, understanding the evidence around birth interventions, preparing for bringing baby home post-partum and breastfeeding….the list goes on! The course has over 10 hours of video content + a 262 page textbook to supplement your learning. Together with the app, GentleBirth has shaped a lot of my thinking and preparation for birth and beyond.
THERE ARE SO MANY RESOURCES OUT THERE TO CHOOSE FROM WHEN IT COMES TO PREPARING FOR BIRTH AND IT’S REALLY HARD TO NAVIGATE THE LANDSCAPE.
I encourage you to seek out information from as many sources as you can! But if you want to plug into a very well-crafted, thoughtful resource that covers it all, I strongly recommend you take the GentleBirth online course. As women we need reassurance that our choices matter, that we are an active participant in the birth of our child, and that by understanding the evidence and the options available to us that we can feel empowered to make the best choices for our bodies and our babies.
I don’t get any commission if you choose to take this course! I have taken it myself and wanted to share how much I appreciated the breadth of information and positive approach offered by Tracy and GentleBirth. You should know that if you sign up for her course this month you will also gain access to the Natural Breastfeeding Program created by IBCLC Nancy Morbacher and Dr Theresa Nesbitt (worth $97). Currently taking this course now and loving it!!
Wishing you the best birth experience possible,
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