Comfort Measures in Labor: Solitude
Like all comfort measures in labor, what someone finds comforting can vary from person to person. Solitude is no less specific to each individual’s personality and circumstance.
Seeking solitude when in pain or feeling stressed or anxious is very common with introverts. While extroverts find comfort in being surrounded by friends and family. So, depending on your personality, solitude may be helpful in providing comfort in labor or may actually cause additional stress.
How does solitude help relax a person?How does solitude help relax a person? Click To Tweet
As I said in the intro, not everyone finds solitude relaxing. This particular comfort measure is specifically for her that does find it relaxing and restful to be on her own.
Many animals seek solitude when in pain, sick, or giving birth. Humans are not much different. Many birthing women instinctually got to the bathroom while in labor; to the point that many have come to refer to the bathroom as the “birthing cave.”
Labor tends to expose a woman both physically and emotionally. Because of this, women tend to seek privacy. A woman in labor needs to feel completely free to give into what she might normally feel inhibited by. She may normally be a very modest woman or never even consider moaning in front of people but in labor, she needs to feel free of judgment and fear of doing what she feels is necessary.
Often as labor progresses, a woman will find a ritual. She will learn how to cope through each contraction. These can appear to almost be an altered state of consciousness or trance-like state. She is completely given into allowing her body to do what it needs to birth her child. If she is disturbed during this “ritual” or “trance,” it may require several rounds of contractions to reestablish her routine, at best, or, at worst, cause labor to stall. Most woman prefer quite while in active labor. The more people invited into the birth place, the more difficult it is to keep unnecessary talking down. Even breathing can disturb some women.
How do you tell your family you want solitude during the birth of your child?How do you tell your family you want solitude during the birth of your child? Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, desiring solitude while in labor, during childbirth, and/or in the first hours after the arrival of your baby can be a bit of a touchy subject with some people. How do you explain to your mother, your father, your mother-in-law, your father-in-law, etc… that you do not want them in the room, at the birth center, at the hospital, at your home, when you bring their grandchild into this world? How to you let them know your desire for your birth experience is to be alone with your husband and birth team? How do you break it to them that you are willing to hire practical strangers to act as doula, midwife, physician but you don’t want them there during this monumental moment in your, their, this baby’s life?
- Approach this topic early on. Do not wait until you are in labor to inform them that they are not invited to the birth. Give them a chance to get use to the idea rather than springing it on them at the last minute.
- Be firm and consistent but be gentle and patient. This is not always easy, especially when talking about family who know exactly how to push our buttons and how to manipulate (“guilt trip”) us into doing what they want. Add to that the hormones of pregnancy that already have you on edge at times and conversations can often go downhill fast. We love these people dearly but they are also the best at “getting under our skin.” It is important to remember Colossians 4:6 which says, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
- Remember this may be one of many decisions that they may not agree with as you raise your child. Not everyone is in agreement with how children will be raised and, sadly, this often causes rifts between people. Your family may inappropriately feel that a decision you make differently from how you were raised implies that you feel their decisions were wrong or harmful. They may even take this as you are suggesting that they were bad parents. This is rarely the case but people often make these conclusions. Make sure you explain to your family that you in no way want to imply that their parenting style was bad but that you want to try a few different things.
- Establish boundaries. Boundaries are a very important part of every relationship. It is important that you establish these boundaries as early as possible. You do not need to be harsh or rude but you do need to be consistent and firm. As with number two, we must season our discussions with “salt” and be gentle and patient.
- Clarify the reasons for this decision. Explain that it is not your desire to exclude them from your life but that your personality style finds it easier to relax and get work done when alone. Inform them that it is important for both your and the baby’s health that you be as relaxed and able to do whatever needs to be done to birth your child and that the best situation for you to be able to do this is to be alone. While in labor, you need to be as focused as possible on yourself and your baby. For some women, they worry about their family even in the waiting room down the hall. They become anxious that labor is taking “too long” or that their family may not agree or be fully supportive of their choices about birth. This added stress can cause a woman’s adrenaline to rise which can slow down or even stop labor. If this occurs, it is more likely that interventions may be required.
As far as inviting a doula or other support staff rather than family, this can be confusing to family, especially if they do not understand the role of a doula. The difference between having a doula versus your mother in the room is that the doula is not as emotionally involved as a mother is. For a doula, it is easier to separate from the situation and remain calm. It isn’t that the doula doesn’t care for the mother or baby but that she cares in emotional way. This doesn’t mean she won’t cry or become emotional but that there is a separation of intimacy that a close friend or family member has. A doula also supports a mother in a way that is free of history and judgment. This is not to suggest that the mother’s family would be judging her but that at times, especially times of pain or stress, we women can become worried as to how we have reacted to our loved ones or that we may not be living up to the standards our loved one’s have for us. It is very common that a woman will become completely naked as labor progresses and she may vocalize in ways that might be uncomfortable with family members. During her labor, a mother needs to feel free to become completely naked, moan, move, or get into positions that she may feel embarrassed about doing if her mother, father, mother-in-law, or father-in-law were in the same room.
- Give them a job. You may consider different ways you can make them a part of the big day. If you are delivering away from home, you might ask them to do your laundry; stock your fridge, freezer, and pantry with meals and groceries; finish some projects you haven’t gotten to like putting the crib together, mowing the lawn, or other home projects. If having a home birth; you may consider having them cook meals at their own home to fill your fridge and freezer. Other ideas may be to have them take care of your other children, create a birthday video for the baby, create “welcome home” banners, write letters to the baby about how much they love the baby to give to him when he graduates high school or some other monumental time, create a prayer list of specific things they can pray about each hour, create audio recordings of them singing hymns or lullaby’s to play for the baby later on, etc.
Introverts find energy from solitude. Being around other people drains them. It is important to consider your personality when creating your birth plan. If you are in introvert, consider including the desire to limit conversation, visitors, and routine checks. Also, make sure you are clear as to your plan for birth with your friends and family.