My dear friends,
During a recent blog post I discussed Gianna’s labor and delivery story. I wanted to include some very important prayers and tips that helped me during my labor and delivery process. However, I did not want to cram tons of info into one blog post. Before I begin I want to mention that I am not an expert or professional on this subject by any means, but I try my very best to make my decisions with love. I love Gianna whom God has given to Adam and I. I desired from the moment I found out I was pregnant to love Gianna and to make my decisions regarding pregnancy, labor, and delivery with love. That is why I had the aim to have a natural birth. I looked to Jesus suffering on the cross and knew deeply that He didn’t suffer for no reason. No, He died on the cross out of love for His children to redeem us from our sins. I knew that my suffering should not go to waste and that it could be redemptive for myself and others when united to the cross. Not only this, but having a natural birth has plenty of benefits for both the mother and the baby. All of these reasons led me to desire a natural birth since I did not have any hindrances during pregnancy or labor and delivery.
As I said in my last blog post I repeat again today. Not all births are ideal and sometimes emergencies do occur. I would have been willing to do whatever needed to be done for the safety of my child. I do not write this post to judge the choices of other mothers and their birth experiences. Through the grace of God we as mothers and fathers ultimately know what is best for our child. God leads the parents to make certain choices during labor and delivery in order to do His will. Your child and childbirth experience are unique to you and your child. God is good and through the Sacrament of Marriage He gifts couples with the miracle of receiving children. No matter how labor and delivery occurs we must keep this truth in mind! With this aside I would like to begin to share with you some of my favorite prayers and tips for achieving a natural labor and delivery for Gianna.
~ Prayers ~
Consecration to Jesus through Mary
- St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s Total Consecration
- I had mentioned this in my labor and delivery story, but I cannot recommend praying the consecration to Jesus through Mary for your child in utero (and your family) enough. Doing so will give you a deep and profound peace. No matter what happens you can rest assured that Mary will be taking good care of you and your child.
- I have heard countless beautiful stories of what happens when a child is consecrated to Jesus through Mary by his or her parents.
Virgin of Childbirth Prayer
- While Adam and I were studying abroad in Austria we took a trip to Italy with the rest of our peers. There we went to a church that had a statue of Mary with Jesus. After getting closer we realized it was actually a shrine to the Virgin of Childbirth. There were prayer cards and I grabbed a handful of them to give to others. My friend ended up giving one of these Virgin of Childbirth prayer cards to her friend who had been struggling with infertility. Her friend soon after conceived a child!
“Holy Mother of God, Virgin of Childbirth, we come to you to sing your praise. You are the beloved daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Word incarnate, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. You are the Virgin God chose from eternity to realize our salvation: ask your Son Jesus to grant us a strong faith, a solid hope, and a generous charity. Virgin Mother, we put under your care all the mothers who pray for the integrity of their children and for a successful birth, so that the life in their womb may be preserved from all dangers. Grant them to come back to you with their child to give thanks to the Lord who works wonders for those who hopefully trust in Him. Virgin of Childbirth, protect all children with your love, so that, cleansed from sin by baptism and received in the Holy Mother Church, they may serenely grow up, full of virtues, in order to become courageous witnesses of your Son Jesus, and may persist on the path of sanctity, with the favour of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Ave Maria… Virgin of Childbirth, pray for us!
Novena to Saint Monica
“Dear St. Monica, wife and mother, who bore many sorrows. Teach me never to despair or lose faith. Share with me your confidence, persistence and steady faith, as you prayed daily to bring your husband, Patricius and your son, Augustine to the Lord. Intercede for me, dear St. Monica, that God may favorably hear my plea for (mention your petition here) – but grant me the grace to accept his will in all things, whatever it may be – through Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.”
Adam and I’s wedding prayer
- When Adam and I were engaged and preparing our wedding invitations we created prayer cards for each person we invited. I still say our wedding prayer often and keep it within my Bible. It is good to remember that your child is a fruit and gift of marriage given life from God Himself.
Our Lady of La Leche
- About Our Lady of La Leche
- Our Lady of La Leche Prayer
- While I was a student at Franciscan University there was this beautiful family with 11 children. I remember being so moved by their family’s witness. They were all so joyful and faithful. I had no idea that the mother of this family struggled with “infertility.” By this I mean that after she had her first child the doctors told her that she probably wouldn’t be able to have any more children. From what I remember she had some type of abnormality of her uterus making pregnancy extremely painful, childbirth difficult, and she almost lost her life after giving birth to her first born child. After this extremely difficult first pregnancy and childbirth she discovered the prayer to Our Lady of La Leche. She ended up conceiving another child (and another and another). When she found out she was pregnant with her second child she decided to pray the prayer to Our Lady of La Leche every single day of her pregnancy. Now here she is 11 children later and a beautiful family. This prayer is powerful to say the least!
These next two are not technically prayers, but you could certainly make them into prayers!
Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty quote
- I recently found this quote on etsy as well.
“… the Virgin Mother longed for Him with love beyond all telling…”
- A beautiful quote and prayer taken from the second preface that the priest reads at Mass during the season of Advent.
~ Tips ~
Have an image of Jesus and Mary visible
- While I was pregnant with Gianna I found a beautiful image of Jesus and Mary from Portraits of the Saints. I carried the prayer card around with me and later got an 8×10 image to frame in our home. I have stared at it for moments at a time and prayed that Our Blessed Mother would help prepare me to love my child as she loves her children.
Bring a crucifix along so you can remember why you are doing this!
- St. John Paul II said to a man who was greatly suffering and wanted his pain taken away, “do not waste your suffering!” Suffering has a salvific value when united to Christ on the cross. This is why I knew that I did not want to waste the suffering that I would receive through childbirth and let me tell you, it was more than worth it!
“Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty” 1 Timothy 2:15.
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this verse further, “By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory. Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: ‘It is not good that man should be alone,’ and ‘from the beginning [he] made them male and female;’ wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’ Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day. The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life. Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice” Catechism of the Catholic Church 1652-1654.
- While I was listening to a homily once the priest said that the life of a Benedictine monk is very difficult. In order to get through their day they would sing Gregorian chant to give them strength to carry on.
“The Benedictines at Clear Creek, how do they keep that Rule and live that mortified life. It is because of the chant. They stop chanting, they can’t keep the Rule. If you go to a Benedictine monastery and they don’t have big chant, they are not keeping the Rule. I guarantee it. Anywhere in the world, at any time, I guarantee it. That’s how it works. It gives you the strength” Sensus Fidelium.
- My two favorite Gregorian chant CD’s:
- Male chanters – Monks of Norcia
- Female chanters – Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles
- During our natural birthing classes Adam and I learned that having the father of the baby present at the birth is very important. Adam kept a calm demeanor and reassured me while I was in labor. Mothers are very vulnerable while in labor and desire a sense of safety. Seeing Adam assist me while I was preparing to give birth to Gianna brought about a deeper and more profound love within our marriage. Although it was new for both of us, Adam was the most important person at my birth.
- I highly recommend a doula. No, doulas do not take the role of your husband! Doulas and husbands share completely different roles. Doulas are trained to know the signs of labor progressing and how to help aid your labor. They help with techniques to try while you are laboring to get baby in the optimal position and to help you let go of tension you are holding in your body. (Among many other things that doulas help with).
This podcast was very helpful for me to hear
- I listened to this podcast while I was pregnant and it was so touching to me. There were multiple times that I started tearing up because of what was said. After hearing this podcast I started to really look into doulas.
- A couple of quotes from the podcast:
“These contractions are not my enemies, they are my friends. They are trying to bring my baby to me faster. I came up with a visualization. I pictured those contractions as me in a bull riding ring. There I am wresting the bulls. The contractions would be bulls coming at me that I could see. What I have to do is before they come and get me I grab them by the horns and wrestle them and push them to the ground. C’mon contractions do what you need to do! Let’s do this” Beth Sri.
“Those c-section scars, varicose veins, and other physical scars – when it is the resurrection of the dead those types of scars are going to shine with the glory of God” Beth Sri quoting Kimberly Hahn.
- I honestly didn’t read too many books about labor while I was pregnant because I did not want to overwhelm myself or freak myself out! I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but please do not read too much about labor and delivery. It really can overwhelm you. The Mama Natural Pregnancy book is a gold-mine when it comes to a natural pregnancy, labor, and delivery! She also offers a birth course that I have heard is really good.
Do not tense your body!
- When you tense up it makes labor and delivery harder! Tensing your body will cause the uterus to tense making it more difficult for it to function properly.
- Somehow this helps. The “ooo” sounds like “moo,” but without the “m.” I would walk around making this noise and somehow it seemed to help.
Eat healthy and exercise
- Drink lots of water!
- Healthy pregnancy diet example
- I read in a book somewhere that doing squats can help with childbirth. From that day forward I did 300 squats a day even up to my due date! A few other ideas that I did include: walking, hiking, and safe pregnancy workout DVD’s. I was told over and over again that walking is extremely important! It helps to shift your pelvis. I also took a pregnancy exercise class that was offered once a week through a hospital near me.
- Here is my favorite pregnancy workout DVD
Do not let others frighten you!
- For some reason when people see a pregnant woman they think that it would be a good idea to share with her all the horror stories from their birth, their mother’s birth, their cousin’s birth, their cousin’s friend’s birth, you name it! Do not let this scare you! That was their birth experience and it does not have to be yours.
- Avoid bucket seats and sit up straight! Slouching in a chair encourages the baby to be in the posterior position, which is not optimal for birth.
- Two important hormones that women produce while in labor are oxytocin and relaxin. Oxytocin has been called the “birth hormone” or the “bonding hormone.” Women primarily release Oxytocin during labor and marital intimacy. In terms of birth this means that while this hormone is being released it helps to have privacy, so minimal amount of staff in the room. Dim lights and music also help to aid this birth hormone. Relaxin helps to open the body for birth. It relaxes certain uterine muscles so they can be moved upwards for birth to occur.
- Helps with posture and can be used during labor. It helps by untucking the pelvis. I loved using my exercise ball during early labor!
- Here is the one I have
Natural Birth Class
- This is very important to achieve a natural birth! Do your research and see which class would fit you and your spouse best. Adam and I found an amazing natural childbirth class that was taught by a Christian woman. She was not only amazing, but was extremely knowledgable with many 5-star reviews.
If you are pregnant, remember that you are about to see your precious child face-to-face! Your son or daughter was brought into this world through your marital love with your spouse leading to pregnancy, labor, and delivery. This is how God created us to bring children into the world, with love! We are living in a culture where women consider it burdensome and trial-ridden to be a mother (or woman for that matter). A society that believes childbirth is extremely dangerous causing the mother to have an unwanted birth experience. Our Catholic faith includes both the crucifixion and the resurrection! Remember what Jesus said to Peter when Peter did not think that Christ should have to suffer.
“And Peter took him and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men’ Matthew 16:22-23.
We must think as Christ does with love. Even though we may have to go through a short period of suffering during childbirth, we are ultimately doing this to bring new life into the world! Life given to couples through love from God Himself!
Take time to develop a relationship with your baby now! We as Catholics believe that life begins at the moment of conception. There is a real live human being with a body and a soul growing within you. This son or daughter of yours is with you always for only a short amount of time that will never happen again. Take some time to pray for your child in utero, in fact pray with your child, talk to him or her, sing to him or her, and play music for him or her! Acknowledge that this is a very special time! Maybe buy a journal that you can write to your baby in or to write about your time getting to know your little one before he or she is even born. If you have other children involve your baby’s siblings in the pregnancy. Teach your children about the life growing within you. Have your children talk to the baby, pray for and with your baby, write cards to the baby, read to your baby, and sing to your baby! You can even have your children feel your baby moving within your tummy. Do not wait to love your baby until he or she are born!
Congratulations to you and your family for the gift of new life! Know that I am praying for you and am here if you need anything.
If you have any questions or would like to chat with me about anything discussed in this blog post please feel free to contact me!