During each of my classes last week I started with the question: What is a tool you plan to bring into your birth?
I had some incredible answers. Including ‘Focusing on Myself’, ‘Not having any expectations’, and ‘Living in the Moment’. Each were encouraging for myself and all the other mamas in the room!
The inspiration for this question and overall theme came about while I was going over my old prenatal yoga teacher training notes. I was thankful to come across this acronym that we learned to provide us with tools and tips during birth. I decided to craft my classes last week around sharing this acronym and all it’s wisdom.
The acronym is BURPEE and it stands for:
B – Breathe. To bring your body into a parasympathetic nervous system response (where birth happens), we can work to make our exhales longer relative to our inhales. This will keep us relaxed and able to mentally focus on the work of labour. Breath is also our anchor. No matter what happens as our families, bodies, and homes change during birth, our breath remains the same.
U – Urinate. Creating space for baby by clearing the bladder often is useful in labour. This also tells us that we should be drinking water during labour to keep ourselves hydrated. Also, the ‘birth cave’ or bathroom can feel like a safe, contained place to labour. Sitting on the toilet can be a helpful position to encourage the hips to open!
R – Rest/Relax. Remaining in the ‘Rest and Digest’ response of the nervous system (parasympathetic) will make it easier for us to effectively rest and relax between surges. Living in the moment and enjoying this natural break in work instead of worrying about the next surge will help us to labour effectively. Between surges you may find it helpful to be in child’s pose (or some variation), a forward fold, sitting, or draped over a birthing ball.
P – Positions. Knowing that you can vary your positions throughout birth (and varying them as needed) is important. Although we don’t know what position(s) our bodies will crave until the moment comes, we can be prepared with various positions in mind ahead of time. Squatting, All Fours, Child’s Pose, the Birthing Stool, Sitting or Hugging a Birthing Ball are just a few. Penny Simkin’s The Birth Partner has a huge spread of useful positions you can use.
E – Environment. There is a lot we can do to control our birthing environment. Whether you birth at home, the Birth Centre, or the hospital, it is wise to do what you can to make your space comfortable, relaxing, and peaceful. Make sure you are surrounded by people you can be vulnerable with – you can invite/uninvite whoever you want to your birth! It is your choice alone as to who is there. Also, having supportive things around you such as your favourite tea, music, essential oils for smell, or even your favourite foods. Comfort is key to keeping yourself in that parasympathetic, safe birthing state.
E – Encouragement. Make your birth team a team of cheerleaders! Your partner, best friend, sister, mother, father, doula – if they’re not on your team and rooting for your best interests, perhaps they don’t need to be there. Don’t be afraid to speak to your team about your desires for an encouraging, supportive environment – if you’re up front about this ahead of time you will thank yourself.
Wishing you all the best in your birth preparations. May you take any of these tools that can be useful for you and leave the rest aside. And remember, truly, the only thing you need to birth is right on your yoga mat. You.
Love and Peace,