In our series on Preparing for a Natural Birth, we have already discussed the mental and emotional preparation. As a Christian, this next part–the spiritual preparation–ties right into that! If Christ is Lord of my life (and I know that He is), then He should be at the very center of my birth as well. I hope this post gives you some ideas for how to use the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen you as you labor!
Throughout this post I’ll refer to your “support person” or “support team.” By this I mean husband, mother, sister, friend, doula, or anyone you’ve invited to be a part of your birth for the purpose of encouraging you.
Listening to worship music while I am laboring has always been a huge encouragement to me. It provides some distraction too, which is nice! Towards the beginning of my labor, I like to rock back and forth on a birthing ball while listening to upbeat music. My support team and I often sing along with the songs! As my labor progresses, I like for the music to be slower and allow me to focus on Christ in the midst of each contraction. Songs about Christ suffering on the cross help elevate my thoughts to Him and take my mind off what I am experiencing in this very temporary moment. There does come a point in my labor when I want silence, so I ask for the music to be turned off. But I know other women who like to keep the music on the whole time! A few albums I love are: here, here, here, and here.
Prayer has always been an essential part of my births. My support team and I pray throughout my labor, from beginning to end. I always let close friends know when I’m going into labor so that they can pray for me while I’m at the hospital. You can even make a list of specific prayer requests that you want people to pray for you about. I think I’ve even posted those lists on my blog, and I’ve seen other friends share their requests on Facebook. Allow your community to support you through prayer. During labor, I also find myself praying a lot (silently) as I cling to God for strength through each moment. At the beginning, my prayers are for endurance and that things would progress well, since my labors are sometimes long and/or slow to start. In the middle I pray for wisdom as decisions sometimes need to be made regarding interventions. I also pray for wisdom for my midwife and nurses. As I reach the final part of labor, my prayers become shorter and more succinct: “Lord, give me grace,” and “Lord, help me through this,” are common ones. Of course, once my sweet baby arrives, I rejoice in God and praise Him for this new gift of life!
My mom gathered up some Scripture verses for me that she read over me during my births. You are welcome to use these (PDF printable linked below), or you could select verses that have significant meaning to you. Choose verses that will encourage you to persevere, remind you that your strength comes from the Lord, and assure you that God will never leave you. Ask your support person if they will read these verses to you throughout your labor. This is great when accompanied by a gentle back rub too! This aspect of meditation–filling our minds with truths about God–can help us so much. As we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can have endurance even through difficult contractions.
None of us are guaranteed a labor that goes exactly the way we want it to, even if we pray about it! God sovereignly ordains all things according to His will (Ephesians 1:11), and while we don’t always understand His plans, we can trust that they are good. A huge part of preparing for a natural birth (for me) is surrendering my plans to God and acknowledging that I trust Him. In each of my births, there have been things that didn’t go “my way.” But I know that God planned the perfect birth for each one of my children, and He has good plans for this next baby’s birth as well. As you make your birth plan, hold it loosely before God. Giving birth is just one more aspect of our lives that is out of our control, but firmly in God’s control. This brings me so much peace and allows me to rest in God during my labor!
Freedom from Fear
In my experience, fear in labor has always led to pain, but a calm spirit has given me peace and even joy in the moment. Pray and ask God to free you from fear in your labor. In the moments when you feel frightened (how long is this going to last? will I be able to do this? what if the pain gets worse? etc.), pray for peace instead of fear. In a physical sense, fear often leads to clenching up the whole body instead of relaxing and opening up to the natural process of childbirth. Again, meditate on Scripture that reminds you to not be afraid.
Our next post in this series on Preparing for a Natural Birth will cover preparing physically!