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Is childbirth like a triathlon?
A full triathlon requires tremendous focus and stamina. Athletes start by swimming for 2.4 miles, then they bicycle for 112 miles, and finally they complete the experience with a full marathon of 26.2 miles. This year the top women’s finisher in the Lake Placid triathlon was Heather Fuhr with a time of 9 hours, 45 minutes, and 6 seconds. What an incredible accomplishment! I am in awe of what it takes to complete such a race, to endure each stage, and to keep moving forward despite the obvious pain and stress until the finish is reached.
As an emotional freedom coach, I find many similarities between the triathlon and the long journey of pregnancy, labor, and delivery… the multiple stages… the blood, sweat, and tears… driving forward, ever forward, towards the miracle finish. Of course, pregnancy takes 9 months and labor and delivery can be a 30+ hour exertion.
No one would question that when preparing for a triathlon, emotional readiness is just as important as physical training. If the athlete has emotional blocks to success, or memories of prior injuries that would keep her from competing at her best, a coach would work with her to remove those blocks before the next event. Right?
So, why don’t we treat pregnancy, labor, and delivery the same way? Why don’t we help prepare expectant mothers by helping them be emotionally relaxed, calm, and confident? One way to do this is to directly address specific emotional issues with EFT.
Before and During Pregnancy
Even before getting pregnant, most women have certain pre-conceptions about what the experience will mean: physical challenges, lifestyle changes, difficult choices. If the couple is having difficulty becoming pregnant, it can be helpful (and certainly more relaxing—which is helpful for conception) to use EFT for feelings of failure, uncertainty, and specific fears. For example, older women may be concerned about being able to conceive at all, or that the baby won’t be completely healthy.
It is completely natural to have these fears today; we are bombarded by cautions about pre-natal health, biological clocks, and genetic defects. Some women move through this period with relaxed confidence. Others do not. If you are one of the “Nervous Many,” EFT tapping on the emotions as they come up, combined with specific work with a skilled coach, can help you significantly. You will still be aware of all that needs to be done and even all that might arise, but they won’t occupy nearly as large a portion of your thoughts. Instead, you can visualize what a miracle it truly is to combine two hearts into a new life.
Over the years I’ve heard a wide range of pregnancy and childbirth stories, most of which have scary moments. And I’m a man! I know most women have heard far more and in more graphic detail. And once a woman is pregnant, the stories come fast and furious. And since stories are most interesting when there are perils that the hero overcomes… those perils are often what the birth stories emphasize with great emotion.
“I waited 4 hours for the epidural, and then the doctor made a mistake which left me flat on my back with a crushing spinal headache for 5 days. I couldn’t even change my baby’s diaper!”
“My husband was so insensitive! I was lying there moaning in pain, and he told me to be quiet so he could take a nap!”
“The evil nurse from hell told me not to push for an HOUR when the baby was ready to come. I’m convinced the doctors were having dinner or something… while I was starving! I have never felt so much pain! When I finally insisted it was time to push, and threw back the covers, the baby’s head was crowning!”
I’m sure you’ve heard many others. And some birth stories do not have a happy ending. Life is sometimes very, very short indeed.
Do some of these stories still haunt you? Does it feel a bit like seeing the movie Jaws in your head as you picture your beach vacation?
If so, EFT can help. By properly tapping through each story, what you can find is that you begin to feel (and not just know intellectually) that if there was ever a totally unique experience, it is the birth of a child. Every child is different. Every pregnancy is different. Every childbirth is different. Ask any mother of two or more kids. Each is a unique story… which means, of course, that the birth stories of others have almost no bearing on what your experience will be like.
Wouldn’t it be great to spend your pregnancy time really feeling connected and at peace with your child? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to really visualize a childbirth that goes smoothly, from start to finish, and that is filled with spiritual connection and love? I have seen that the emotional obstacles standing in the way of that kind of relaxed visualization can be successfully released with EFT.
Some birth stories are personal. Once a mother has gone through pregnancy and childbirth, she may find it difficult to focus on the positive side of the experience. Why? Because our brain gives higher importance to unresolved memories of pain and fear than it does to those of pleasure. If there was any pain or fear present (which is likely), those feelings may be so loud in her memory as she recalls the birth that it is difficult to really savor the “good parts” without also feeling the strain of negative emotions. I’d like to help change that. And with EFT we can!
The process is straightforward. We take each major part of the experience and make a short movie about it and give it a title. We then use EFT on each and every negative emotion that comes up as we tap through the memory. As the feelings harmonize, the client decides how she would LIKE to feel about each part of the movie, and we use positive choices as we tap as well.
In just one birth experience, there can be a wide range of emotions and specific troubling events. Here are just a few from one woman’s 30+ hour experience:
- The birth had to be induced (not knowing for sure whether it was the right thing to do; long wait for the doctors to do the induction)
- Husband and extended family around (all with their own levels of comfort)
- Noises and distractions
- Hungry! Starving! (finally got a few crackers; husband eating in front of her)
- No pain killers (by choice, but the pain over that many hours was draining)
- Insensitive comments and actions by husband and mother-in-law
- Great nurse replaced by “evil nurse from hell”
- Baby’s heart rate dropping
- Pressure for injections of pitocin to increase strength of contractions (intensified pain, baby distressed by them)
- Not being listened to by the nurse (feeling out of control)
- Husband took nap rather than walk with her (feeling abandoned, alone, unsupported)
- Nurse told her not to push even though her body said it was time (felt stupid, powerless)
- Crying to her mother that she didn’t think she could make it (inadequate)
- Doctor she liked the least was there to catch the baby (disappointment)
- Husband not there for the birth or to cut the cord (outside the hospital on a cigarette break)
As you look down the list, you will notice that her husband played a major role in her distressing memories. Her husband (and her!) would probably have been better off a generation ago when he would not have been expected to be present for labor and delivery. Not everyone is cut out for it. My client knew that in her head, but the pain in her heart was still quite raw many months later, and she wanted to be able to remember the birth without immediately jumping to “He wasn’t there for me!!!”
So we tapped. Every one of those bullet points took a round or two. We persisted until the feeling at each point had little emotional charge.
We also noticed (and I pointed out) how the “story” changed as we tapped; as she repeated various sections, positive recollections would filter in. That feels so good! As the negative charge releases, what remains are often loving feelings.
For example: originally she remembered walking the halls feeling abandoned. After tapping, she could see her husband napping and herself walking the halls with the IV, but her predominant feeling is now one of connection when she stopped, looked out the window, and felt her child getting ready to be born. She was not alone!
That is a rich memory, and I could sense a beautiful shift as she could allow herself to dwell in that moment without the pain she had previously felt. That is the beauty of this body-centered technique called EFT. It is never too late to rewrite your memories of childbirth. Including the stories surrounding your own!