Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Letting Go of "Expecting"

Due dates suck. I'm adding them to my list of grievances against the American medical system, and you should, too..

Here's why.

Not only is the thinking intrinsically flawed that every child should reach gestation and be ready to enter the world in exactly 40 weeks time, but the idea every woman's body should be prepared and ready to go on that same schedule is completely ludicrous. I think it's even harmful. When this arbitrary date (which at best, can be off by 2 weeks from the get-go) isn't met, it throws everyone into a frenzy making said woman question her body's natural abilities to give birth.

Let's think about this from a yoga perspective. First of all, look around the next time you go to a public yoga class and you'll see dramatically different body shapes, sizes, and abilities. Some students are naturally flexible and  have no problem bending into most any shape. Others are strong and stable--maybe they can't touch their toes, but they can lift into a handstand in the middle of the room with ease. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle with a tendency toward one or the other. One isn't better than the other--just different. Yoga teaches us to just experiment and do the practice without judgment from wherever we are. The emphasis is on how far you've come over time, not how flexible or strong you are. That's why it builds confidence and self-esteem at the same time as health and vitality. This is key for opening the body, because the second you start to fill the mind with judgments and self-doubt, the body hardens making it almost impossible to make progress. If you want to open your hamstrings, you relax and breathe and gently fold forward. Why on earth would opening your cervix be any different?

That's where due dates, and the doctors and midwives that assign them, really miss the mark. They start looking for things that are wrong causing already nervous moms-to-be to panic. (If first-time moms tend to "go late," I'm convinced this is why.) They order extra ultrasounds to make sure there's enough fluid and non-stress tests to monitor how well the baby is handling being crammed in your deteriorating placenta. They tell you all the reasons they won't "let you" stay pregnant past yet another arbitrary date ... You start to wonder, is my body just not capable of doing this? That's when the progress stops. That's when the drugs come out. That's why our C-section rate in this county is 33 percent.

Yoga has helped me come a long way in accepting and loving my body as it is. It's amazing how a nine-month period of seeing doctors, being weighed and measured, and hearing how I stack up (for medical reasons) against thousands of other people's measurements and statistics has really undone so much of that work on my mat.

Now at four days past my "due date," I'm going to stop Googling natural ways to induce labor. I'm going to meditate using the mantra "soften to open." I'm going to clean out my bathtub, light some candles, and listen to some soothing music. Then, the rest of the day, I'm going to curl up on the couch with a good book and my sweet animals. I'm going to stop looking at the clock and/or the calendar, and I'm going to trust my body to do what it was designed to do ... in its own time ... Thankyouverymuch.