Menu
3 Ways to Rethink Contractions

There are many things about labor that are totally scary. We don’t know when it is going to start; we don’t know what it is going to feel like; we don’t know how we are going to react… There’s a lot we can’t plan for, but we can prep ourselves by examining our fears and learning some tools to slip back into labor’s flow instead of getting stuck in a place of being afraid.

One of the biggest fears that come up is the pain of contractions -- and understandably so. But here’s the thing about labor: while the sensations and emotions that arise are certainly intense, the body has an entire system of defense mechanisms in place to help support you through the process. The strong sensations (the bleeding, the vomiting, the shaking, the heat rushes) are actually all signs of things being very right -- signs that your body is working with you and for you so that you can finally meet your baby.

So while being scared during labor is very normal and we want you to feel all the feels, fear can have a very strong impact on how labor unfolds. If it takes over, it can activate the the fight or flight response, causing that beautiful orchestra of hormones to be disrupted, our defense mechanisms in place to break down and the progression of labor to slow. So it’s actually the fear of the contractions that we want to resist, not the contractions themselves.

To help you prepare mentally and emotionally for labor, here are 3 ways to rethink contractions and stop fear from taking over.

1. What you are feeling is not actually pain. Those who have given birth before may want to throw something at us for saying this, but hear us out. We definitely aren't saying the sensation isn't intense -- in fact, it may hurt like hell. But you are totally equip to handle it. It is essential to note that, unless fear and stress take over, contractions don’t signal a pain response in the body. Instead, they initiate a very intricately designed orchestra of hormones to keep contractions going (Oxytocin), to keep the pelvis limber so baby’s head fits through (Relaxin), and to give you some natural painkillers to cope with the sensation (Endorphins). What you feel during a contraction is a mix of three sensations: tightening, pressure and stretching. And calling it as such instead of “pain” can be very helpful in reminding you that you are not in danger; that the sensation is actually happening for you, not to you, so you can bring baby earth side and finally meet him.

2. The sensation is very productive! What's actually happening during a contraction? You have two main muscle groups at work: vertical muscles and circular muscles, both of which congregate tightly down by the cervix. The tightening you feel during a contraction is the vertical muscles shimmying and lifting the circular muscles up and out of the way, so that the cervix can open. At the same time, the circular muscles are helping to rotate baby’s head so that the most optimal part can hopefully press against the cervix for some extra umph! The stretching sensation is your cervix slowly starting to soften, thin and open. Sometimes, if you release into the contraction, really allow it to come, and actually focus on going deeper into the sensation, you can actually feel your cervix opening.

3. It's teamwork! Throughout labor, you and baby are working very hard together to meet one another. Sure, your body is very busy. But your baby is laboring too. For example, the pressure that you feel is your baby's head pressing on different points of the pelvis and the cervix to come closer and closer to the birth canal. Baby’s head is rotating (with the help of your uterus) to find the most optimal position to come out. The sensation isn’t just to torture you! It’s you and your baby joined in the most powerful of forces for the ultimate teamwork.

Who says you have to wait for birthdays or holidays to give your bestie a great gift? A sweet surprise that tells her you've been thinking of her might be the pick-me-up she needs in these more-than-trying times. We've rounded up some of our favorite go-to gifts that are certain to be a bright spot in her week. But be warned, you may want to snag a few for yourself. (You deserve it, mama.)

Here are some our favorite "just because" gifts to give our hardworking mama friends.

New Mother face + body care duo

volition face + body care duo

This correcting oil and stretch mark minimizer is perfect for the pregnant mama looking to keep her pregnancy glow. The correcting oil brightens the skin while reducing dark spots, and the stretch mark minimizer works to smooth her ever-growing belly.

$70

Allover roller

esker allover roller

This jade roller goes beyond your typical face roller and can be used anywhere on the body. It works to increase stimulation and reduce puffiness and is perfect for applying any oils to the face or body. Plus, it feels like a mini spa treatment.

$65

Kombucha making kit

farmsteady kombucha making kit

What could be a more perfect gift for the health-obsessed friend? This kombucha making kit comes with everything you need to brew your own homemade green tea kombucha. They'll think this is the tastiest gift ever.

$45

Laetitia lipstick

cupid & psyche laetitia

This red lipstick is perfect for your makeup enthusiast bestie who is looking to spruce up her life in quarantine. Crafted in the United States, these bee and vegan-friendly and cruelty-free lipsticks are created to flatter all complexions. Cupid and Psyche Beauty makes finding the perfect red lip way too easy!

$23

Jigsaw puzzle

inner piecec jigsaw puzzle

Mamas need to destress now more than ever during quarantine. This adorable jigsaw puzzle is perfect for the mama who needs a brain break! The 500-piece puzzle designed by artist Ray Oranges features an abstract gradient design that fits a standard frame when completed. Bonus: It's printed on recycled paper and the company donates $1 from every puzzle sold to youth mindfulness programs.

$30

Matilda's Bloombox

matilda's bloombox

If we have to be stuck inside, we might as well have some gorgeous florals to brighten up the space. Matilda's Bloombox locally sources blooms, delivers them to her door and provides simple tips on how to arrange it into a beautiful bouquet.

$39

'I Am Enough' bracelet

I Am Enough bracelet

Let this dainty bracelet serve as a constant reminder to your bestie that she is enough. She'll wear this on her wrist and read this daily oath to herself, "I Am Enough."

$35

Glow assorted teas

vahdam low assorted teas

This tea gift box set covers the entire spectrum of flavors from sweet to spicy. Individually packaged in beautiful tins, your gal pal will feel like a queen sipping her morning tea. Originally $40, this set is currently on sale for just $24. We'll take two, please.

$24

Find your voice journal

find your voice journal

Journaling is a great way to ease anxiety and will slow your bestie's racing mind before bed. This gift is perfect for first time journalists and includes prompts, daily quotes and coloring pages to help her unlock her potential and find her voice.

$22

Premium frother

shore magic premium frother

This gift is fitting for your latte-sipping bestie who can't go a day without her coffee. All she has to do is add two scoops of collagen to her favorite drink, and she'll have a perfectly foamy drink ready in seconds. Skipping the drive-thru line has never been so easy!

$25

Bath soak infusion kit

maude bath soak infusion kit

Say hello to hydration! She'll be feeling smooth and relaxed as ever after a long bath soaking in these salts. This vegan + cruelty-free set incorporates dead sea salt and dehydrated coconut milk powder for an ultra hydrating experience.

$32

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

Tiny Tags 'mama' necklace

It's a hard-earned title she answers to a hundred times per day. Whether she's new to the club or a seasoned professional, this delicate script 'mama' necklace is guaranteed to be a perfect fit.

$105

Superfood honey

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Powered honey

With a lack of sleep and jam-packed days, getting through the afternoon can be a real challenge. Send her a powerful pick-me-up in the form of a therapeutic blend of royal jelly, bee pollen, propolis and raw honey. It makes the ideal companion for tea, smoothies, yogurt or even on its on.

$17

Calming midnight mask with melatonin

Who doesn't deserve a reminder to pamper themself every once in awhile? Even better, this mask does all its work at night while you're sleeping with no extra effort needed. It's an amazing plant-powered antioxidant-packed mask that has melatonin, wild dandelion leaf and hyaluronic acid to rehydrate, repair and reset facial skin. It's so good, you might want to gift it to yourself. We won't tell, mama.

$68

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

In just over three weeks, we will become parents. From then on, our hearts will live outside of our bodies. We will finally understand what everyone tells you about bringing a child into the world.

Lately, the range of emotions and hormones has left me feeling nothing short of my new favorite mom word, "hormotional." I'm sure that's normal though, and something most people start to feel as everything suddenly becomes real.

Our bags are mostly packed, diaper bag ready, and birth plan in place. Now it's essentially a waiting game. We're finishing up our online childbirth classes which I must say are quite informational and sometimes entertaining. But in between the waiting and the classes, we've had to think about how we're going to handle life after baby's birth.

I don't mean thinking and planning about the lack of sleep, feeding schedule, or just the overall changes a new baby is going to bring. I'm talking about how we're going to handle excited family members and friends who've waited just as long as we have to meet our child. That sentence sounds so bizarre, right? How we're going to handle family and friends? That sentence shouldn't even have to exist.

Keep reading Show less
Life

When we recognize kids' unwelcome behaviors as reactions to environmental conditions, developmental phases, or our own actions, it lets us respond proactively, and with much more compassion.

Here are 10 ways kids may seem like they're acting "naughty," but really aren't.

Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play