Tag Archives: #birth

Discover #28 ways meditation improves your life: Letting Go

                ~ Day 14 ~
~Saturday, December 27th, 2014 ~
       Take Back Your Time
No more yes. It’s either HELL YEAH, or no.
– Derek Sivers

Cheyenne-
Caught up on all my Wake Up tasks for week (I didn’t do anything but journal since Monday). Completed my anchor habit for 35 minutes today. 8 minutes sitting meditation followed by 27 minutes of yoga. During meditation I reached a wonderful state of relaxation and mental clarity within the first 5 minutes. Even though I only got 7 hours of sleep last night I felt alert and well-rested. When, after a few minutes, my mind did go off on a tangent, it was about the birth I attended recently.

Within the past week was my first ever birth as a doula, and it was beautiful. Mom was a first-timer, and I was right there with her for every contraction. It was a wonderful birth and I left the parents very satisfied with me, and more importantly, their own efforts. But what drew me away from my meditation was one small thing that I had said during the birth; in response to her question, “They don’t really do episiotomies anymore do they? Wonder why not?” I said, “it’s better to tear than to be cut because it will heal better”. Seemed innocuous early on in labor but by the end, after an epidural caused her to have to push for 2+ hours, and she wasn’t getting the baby out she did end up getting and episiotomy. I wondered today if this might have in any way contributed to a negative birth experience for her. I thought about how I didn’t want to express judgments like this again, which reminded me that this is a learning process, and I thought, “I am already becoming a better doula.” Then I gently let go of these thoughts and went back to my meditation.

This is what meditating truly is – or so I am finally learning. Meditating is not about forgoing thought, the absence of thought, or the idea that thinking is “bad” and you are a “bad” meditator for thinking. Mindfulness is simply being aware of our thoughts. And when possible, not simply getting caught up in the endless flow of thoughts. We are so caught up in our day-to-day that we are almost always riding our thoughts from one to the next, without ever stepping back and looking at the wave of thoughts we’re riding. Are we acting or reacting? Are we thinking mostly of the future, present, or past? Are we irritable? Impatient? Happy? Relaxed? Stressed? When we don’t take the time to sit and be with our thoughts then we can become a slave to both our thoughts and the emotions they incite. Many of my friends are slaves to their everyday thoughts. I too am a slave to my strong emotions, and when one of these strong feelings – such as anger – comes over me I am often unable to resist the urge to convey a spiteful tone or say something disrespectful.  Meditating is like practice for releasing your emotions in more effective ways. Sitting and releasing your need to follow your thoughts where they lead you can increase your ability to act and react mindfully in challenging situations. How can we ever hope to calm ourselves down when we are enraged if we can’t even resist the urge to get up and write down a thought we have while we’re meditating? Practice letting go is practice for life.

Once I found a deep state of relaxation again for a couple minutes I gently brought my awareness outward and started to do my yoga very mindfully. It was a wonderful. Long, slow routine today. Did Inversions from Om Yoga. Held my headstand for 10 full breathes.

 

Today’s action: Take out a piece of paper and, down the left side, list out every existing time commitment you can think of that you’ve made to other people. This list should include:

✦ Standing coffee, lunch, and dinner dates
✦ Weekly or daily phone calls
✦ Meetup groups
✦ Exercise appointments
✦ Clubs in which you participate
✦ Sports or coaching you do
✦ Any work-outside-of-work appointments
✦ Any TV shows you consistently watch

Once you’ve got what you think is a complete list, make another column on the right side of the page. This is your “keep” list. One by one, go down your list of commitments and decide if this commitment really deserves to take up your precious time, and if it fits in with the image of the person you’re committed to becoming. If it does — and some certainly will — write it down in the “keep” list. But for each commitment that doesn’t belong in your life, axe it.
-Matt Frazier

Commitments

  1. SPIRAL Collective
  2. Twin Cities Doula Project
  3. Aerial class
  4. DharmaCore
  5. Wed/Sat Yoga class at Svasti
  6. Dinners with Remy
  7. Daily TV time
  8. Daily yoga
  9. Daily meditation
  10. Weekly “chore day”
  11. Reading Circle
  12. Queer Vegan Dinner
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Attend #3 Births: Baby Theo

I attended my first birth for doula certification last week! It was an amazing experience. I wrote a birth essay to encapsulate the experience. Here is my essay for certification, with names removed.

Birth Essay – Baby Levi

Mama called at 10:30am. She was admitted to the hospital after a scheduled visit that morning showed a low fetal heart rate. The physician warned mama of the possibility of a cesarean section – but wanted to monitor and see if this could be avoided. We spoke again at 12:00pm and she happily told me the baby’s heart rate had stabilized and they were planning an amniotomy at 1:30pm. She said she would call me when labor began, and at 4:00pm I was invited to join them. I arrived by 4:45pm and assisted with her ever-intensifying contractions. We tried a variety of position changes and coping techniques during this time. Mama’s birth plan included her openness to an epidural, and at around 7:00pm she asked for one. She was tired and wasn’t keeping fluids down so they introduced IV fluids. Afterward she did not feel her contractions at all, but her nausea continued. She expressed tremendous gratitude for my aromatherapy techniques. At 10:20pm her cervix was checked and she was told to push, although she wasn’t feeling the urge. Beginning at 10:42pm she pushed for 2 hours (the nurse timing her contractions) before deciding to labor down while the epidural wore off. By 1:15am the urge to push was strong, and she began pushing again. After 30 minutes of pushing, her baby was born at 1:42am. Mama and baby experienced skin-to-skin contact immediately and were nursing within 45 minutes.

My role at this birth was to provide a calm, collected presence and offer suggestions for the father. Early in labor they had some questions and appreciated having me present for distracting conversation. When Mama experienced nausea and vomiting, dad and I took turns swapping and cleaning out vomit trays for her. I suggested essential oils on a damp washcloth and showed dad to hold it near her face during bouts of nausea, which really helped. I also suggested a variety of position changes; those she found most helpful were the birth ball, swaying, sitting, and semi-prone. Mama was not set on avoiding pain medications, and my role was to provide information and nonjudgmental support for her decisions. When she asked for an epidural I encouraged her to take some time to think about it and make sure it was her decision. I reminded her of other coping strategies we could try, and when she wasn’t interested I reminded her that she had the right to make this decision for her birth.

When Mama was admitted earlier that day she was nervous for the baby’s health and a c-section. We spoke briefly about this over the phone and she said that she accepted if this needed to happen, but she hoped it could be avoided. She was extremely grateful to hear that she could proceed with a vaginal birth and seemed to take this as a good sign. When I arrived she was talkative and chatty between contractions, but liked to go inward during contractions.  She seemed to be coping well for a few hours, then as her contractions intensified she asked, “is this contraction going to end?” and I reminded her to focus on her breathing. Breathing and counting really worked for her as a ritual, but in-between contractions she had difficulty relaxing. Dad and I took turns massaging her shoulders and helping her release the tension. Once she got the epidural she was surprised by how good she felt. She said repeatedly how glad she was for the opportunity to rest and seemed satisfied with her decision. She was pleased that she “only needed the epidural and nothing else”. During pushing she said, “I thought this was going to be the easy part!” but she pushed like a champ anyway and kept her spirits up for many hours until she had her beautiful baby. Immediately after the birth she experienced shaking and chills for an hour. She said, “thought it would be over once he was out” and that she felt guilty that she wasn’t “enjoying him yet”. I reassured her that this was normal, that she didn’t need to feel guilty, and talking about it seemed to help. Within an hour she was visibly happy and enjoying her nursing baby. Afterwards Mama said she was especially grateful that I was there to help her relax and focus on her baby during this time immediately post-birth. Overall she seems tremendously proud and satisfied with her experience.

The main thing I learned during this birth was the power of flexibility to enhance the birth experience. Mama went into her birth well-educated, with a vague outline of what she wanted, and a lot of flexibility and openness to the experience. Her openness to pain medication and interventions helped her feel successful and powerful in her decisions regarding her birth. She didn’t view it as a failure when she ultimately felt she needed an epidural. I learned that being an effective doula isn’t about avoiding medications and interventions, but providing nonjudgmental support for someone to experience a great birth the way they define it.