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Preparing for Childbirth

Six years ago today, I broke the Guinness World Record for the Longest Yoga Marathon. It was one of the most incredible, life changing moments I’ve ever experienced. Now I am arriving at another pivotal, life changing moment: childbirth. I am due next week and find myself preparing for childbirth much in the same way I prepared for my yoga marathon in 2010.

When I decided to challenge the record for the longest yoga marathon, I argued (mostly to myself) that if a woman can spend 32 or more hours in childbirth, surely, I can do 32 hours of yoga. Now, ironically, I am reassuring myself with the following thought, “If I could do a yoga marathon, I can have a natural childbirth without needing an epidural or other interventions.”

THEN: Me in 2010 preparing the sequence of poses for my 32 hour yoga marathon.

THEN: Me in 2010 preparing the sequence for my 32 hour yoga marathon. I planned the entire practice, all 1000+ postures, the week before, because I knew I would probably tire mentally before I would tire physically and so I wanted to be able to follow a plan.

Then, I prayed that my years of training in mindfulness and yoga would allow me to practice a ridiculous amount of yoga without interruptions. And now, I pray that my experience in yoga and meditation will also support me in childbirth. Still, my thoughts and emotions are all over the place. I am nervous, worried, excited and hugely in denial. Ironically, I remember feeling almost exactly the same way before my Guinness Marathon, so I imagine what is needed for me to give birth naturally is similar to what was needed to complete 32 hours of yoga without injury: physical and mental preparation, faith and support.

PHYSICAL TRAINING

Physically, I feel good; no aches and pains, and no swelling. Throughout my pregnancy, I have been able to exercise and I am still going to the gym about three times a week and swimming as much as I can. I confess that I have not done very little yoga asana. I just haven’t been into it. At the beginning, I felt really guilty for not practicing, but intuitively, it just didn’t feel right. I gravitated towards activities that make me stronger like functional weight training. This is probably because I have always been more flexible then strong and I think I have been seeking strength. Swimming has been glorious and it seems that the baby loves being in the water. I am also walking a lot, although I have noticed I now walk slower and with a wide stance like a cowboy — I don’t have the same amount of space in my pelvis as I did a few weeks ago. I am bit more tired, but I am sleeping as much as I can. I wake up about twice (mostly to pee), but am able to fall back asleep. I am eating well and staying hydrated with electrolytes, herbal teas and fresh green juices.

NOW: Exercising regularly has helped me so much during my pregnancy. When I exercise, my mood is uplifted, my energy increases, I sleep better and I feel stronger and more resilient. Baby seems to love the water too!

NOW: Exercising regularly has helped me so much during my pregnancy. When I exercise, my mood is uplifted, my energy increases, I sleep better and I feel stronger and more resilient. Baby seems to love the water too!

MENTAL PREPARATIONS

Mentally, I am still trying to wrap my head around childbirth. Even after nine months of pregnancy, it’s difficult for me to imagine that a new person will soon be joining us and staying forever. I have read several great pregnancy books (see list below), taken a four week birthing class with Arturo and spoken to numerous parents and health professionals, so I guess I am prepared on some level. I just don’t really know what I should be doing in these last few days…

We are busy and life continues status quo. I am preparing the fall schedule at Loft108 and continuing with my Arbonne business. Arturo is working too. When we are not working, our social calendar is packed. We have been invited to dine, sail and spend time with friends and family almost every night this week and last. I am trying not to over do it, but idle time makes me anxious. The other day, Arturo said, “It feels like they all want to see us to say goodbye.”

We set up the crib on Sunday and I had a mini freak out. Am I saying goodbye too? Goodbye to the life I know. Goodbye to my independence and goodbye to quiet moments such as these when I can write, read, exercise and just be uninterrupted. I know the answer is yes and I not sure how to get ready for this, maybe it’s not even possible. I have been told, “You’ll never be ‘ready’.” So I suppose this is where faith comes in.

FAITH & SUPPORT

After voicing my anxieties to my loving mentor Gigi Cohen, she sent me this note:

“Yasmin, of course, you’re nervous. You’re about to pop out a human being! It’s going to be such a joy for you, you can’t even imagine. I will be there for you. The way your feeling is perfect.  You don’t need to think about much. Let it happen. Remember you are a yoga teacher. Breathe In. Breathe Out. Breathe In. I am so proud of you and you’ve come such a long way in your life.  But this little guy or girl will be your new joy. Because of Who You Are, this baby will make you fight harder, do more, be more and it’ll be amazing. Love you, honey. Hang tight. We are never ready for a new life. It’s impossible. We don’t know what’s ahead. Just be open and receptive and all will be great. I know you know all of this already, but I just thought you needed to hear it one more time. I love you very much.”

THEN: My mom (seen here practicing partner yoga with me in the last mins of my marathon), my family, my friends, my students and my teachers were hugely important to me being able to break this Guinness World Record. I know the support and love of my community is equally as important now as they were then.

THEN: My mom (seen here practicing partner yoga with me in the last mins of my marathon), my family, my friends, my students and my teachers were hugely important to me being able to break this Guinness World Record. I know the support and love of my community is equally as important now as they were then.

Of course, she is right. Being present has always served me, but sometimes, like everyone, I need a reminder.

I am deeply grateful for Gigi’s support, for the wisdom of my midwives, for my friends who have been calling me constantly to check in, for the love and support of my family, and for my husband, whose humour and his imitations of our baby in-utero make me (quite literally) pee my pants with laughter. (Last night, when I complained of slight abdominal cramps due to non-stop baby movement, he said: “Ahh, baby is just busy packing up to move house and writing goodbye notes to kidney, liver and intestines.”)

We will keep you informed about our baby’s arrival. Please feel free share this post and the following resources with other expectant mothers. I hope my experience is in some way beneficial to other new parents.

Sat nam.

 

Helpful Resources:

  • Books:
    • Yoga Sadhana for Mothers, Sharmila Desai & Anna Wise
    • Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Ina May Gaskin
    • Birthing from Within, Pam England & Rob Horowitz

      NOW: I am grateful to have great friends, inspirational teachers, two knowledgeable midwives, a supportive family and a loving and funny husband. Despite my worries and my fears, I am well surrounded and I surrender to Spirit.

      NOW: I am grateful to have great friends, inspirational teachers, two knowledgeable midwives, a supportive family and a loving and funny husband. Despite my worries and my fears, I am well surrounded and I surrender to Spirit.

  • West Island Birthing Centre – Such a great atmosphere, very professional and the staff is attentive and supportive.
  • Roberto Starnino Personal Training – Roberto helped me so much in creating fantastic training programs during my pregnancy.
  • Jana Sedevic prenatal fitness at Studio Vie – Jana is super sweet and super knowledgeable about pregnancy, childbirth & fitness.
  • Melons & Clementines Café – If you know nothing about baby stuff and breastfeeding, they are very helpful.
  • Lori Craig, Love it or Leave it – Lori is a magnificent professional organizer and decluttering specialist. She helped me transform the Loft and make room for baby in is such a harmonious way.

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