Control is an interesting theme when it comes to life, especially on the journey through fertility to motherhood.
However we might micro-manage the minutiae of our life, we are never really in control.
Things can come and catch us unawares. Redundancy, bereavement, accidents, good fortune, near misses, unexpected opportunities, new relationships. Life is not predictable.
The abundance of goal setting methodologies can create an illusion of control. We think that if we just measure something, or record it, or place attention on it, we can control it. This often applies to finances or auditing how you spend your day or for weight loss. It’s less applicable when you want to allow the body intelligence to lead the way.
The body works in an integrated way. The founder of osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still, described man as a ‘triune’ being, with integration of mind, body and spirit. Similarly, many Eastern systems of healthcare address the mind and body as one, rather than separate.
Learning to lean less towards control requires approaches that address the self on all levels, physically, mentally and emotionally.
In the clinic clients often share with me the various situations that arise for them where there’s an unexpected development.
Here are so recent situations that have come up for clients:
- decision-making during fertility treatment e.g which method, which clinic, how many cycles of treatment to have.
- the baby is not in an ideal position, e.g. is breech or transverse and facing the possibility that the birth plan might no longer apply to the current situation.
- having been prepared for a caesarean section for months only to find the medical reason is no longer an issue and a vaginal birth is unexpectedly the recommended option.
- not feeling ready to have the second baby yet and hoping it comes late.
- being recommended to be induced due to the mother’s age, or the number of weeks of pregnancy, or waters breaking.
- waiting for the second baby to arrive and the unknown of how this birth will go (when the previous birth was long/ short/ induced. etc).
- dealing with the transition to stop breastfeeding.
What could be a challenging situation for one woman might be a great outcome for another. We are all different. We have different needs. Different strengths, vulnerabilities, personalities and expectations.
Some want to feel supported with a whole entourage. Others want to be in quiet communion and have a lot of space to themselves. Some want an abundance of information. Others want to be told what to do.
Until you find yourself in that eventuality, you might not know how things will go. So whilst it is important to be informed and aware, it’s also wise to surrender to how it “should be”. Learn how to get present in the moment so you can feel your way to what you need.
My advice to my clients often fits in a similar vein, even with very different situations at play.
1- Give yourself space and time
Sometimes when you receive news of something you weren’t expecting or wanting, your system can be flooded with a hormonal response. Give yourself some space, whether a few moments or hours or days to allow your body and mind to process things.
There are some situations which might require an urgent decision, such as deciding whether to put back one or two eggs in an IVF cycle or whether on not to have the waters broken in labour.
Even in these pressurised situations, use the power of the out-breath to breathe out stress and pressure, and the in-breath to breathe in clarity and calm.
2- Be informed
It’s important to know what’s possible. For example, different hospitals may have different protocols. It can be possible to have a breech vaginal birth, or a twin natural birth. Should a woman birth in a labour ward, it can still be a calm and woman-centred experience.
It might need some flexibility on your part with the care providers or setting, but find out if something is truly possible. All too often, a decision is made on ‘fact’ or policy, when in reality some thinking outside of the box and widening the scope can offer some other approaches.
3- Let Go and Trust
Surrender is a word I can often close down to, as it feels heavy and seems loaded with power and a sense of giving in or giving up. I suggest choosing what you might want to happen, and then letting it go, without attachment.
In order to let go, we need to learn how to trust. Trust in the information we have available. Trust in our health practitioners/ doctors. Trust in ourselves and our bodies. Trust that we will be ok in the end. Trust in the unknown. I’ll speak about trust more in the next post.