A client asked me this week how she could possibly practice for labor. It's this great unknown that people compare to a marathon, yet a marathon involves months, maybe years of training. How can we go into labor so blind? The truth is, there's a lot of ways to prepare for labor, body and soul, but maybe not exactly how you think.
Physically, prenatal yoga gives you what you need to build stamina, flexibility, and get baby in a good position. In preparing your mind and spirit, rejeunvenating practices like yoga nidra and pranayama help you relax and build your power of concentration and meditation. But what about the pain? That is what most moms worry about. How can you practice having a contraction? In our prenatal yoga classes, we always include something called discomfort practice to do just that. For about a minute or so, we ask our students to hold a pose that becomes difficult and uncomfortable. No, it's not to torture you. It's to get you used to the idea of noticing a sensation and noticing that you want to pull away from it. But instead of acting on that impulse, we ask our students to surrender and go deeper. It's quite a challenge! The body will keep yelling at you, demanding to be heard; but in the end, you come out the other side completely unscathed.
Discomfort practice is a beautiful, rich learning exercise but there is one way in which it can never compare to a contraction. In discomfort practice, you may be in pain because you are working to hard or over stretching, or because of muscle fatigue. Your body has a good reason to try to get you to stop before you injure yourself! Contractions are intense. At times contractions can seam overwhelming. But a contraction will never injure you. You are completely safe from all harm. In this way, the sensation of a contraction is not actually pain in the sense that it is not a warning signal to stop; it's encouragement to go deeper.
Do you believe contractions are not "painful" in the traditional sense of the word? How do you describe the sensation of a contraction? Let us know on our Facebook page!