how to prepare for a birth day

There’s the hospital bag, of course. Pre-registration paperwork. The Kegels you’re supposed to be practicing ten times a day. Delivery room playlist on the iPod. Deep breathing exercises. Child care arrangements for your other kids. Out-of-office email reply waiting and set to maternity leave.

But does any of that really prepare you for labor and birth?

Maybe I’m lazier this time around. (Ok, assuredly I’m lazier this time around.) But I can’t bring myself to motivate for so many pre-baby preparations that have typically consumed my thoughts by this point in previous pregnancies: cleaning and nesting, stockpiling frozen meals, setting up the baby gear, washing tiny onesies and newborn diapers.

Now whenever I get a free minute? I mostly want to sleep.

And instead of pouring over childbirth preparation books or crafting the perfect birth plan to hand to the nurses upon arrival at the hospital, I find myself shrugging whenever I think about Delivery-Day. It will come, it will be unexpected, it will be hard. And then it will be over and our baby will be here.

But just as I might have missed the opportunity for deeper reflection upon birth’s meaning the first time around when I was nothing but scared, I don’t want to miss the chance to explore the spiritual side of this huge transition simply because it’s my third time through.

Whether unknown or known, childbirth is a defining moment of a mother’s life. And I believe it is one of the “thin places” between heaven and earth.

So I’m wondering how to ready myself this time. How prayer can be part of the pain. How meditation can be part of my mindfulness. How each contraction can remind me that Christ is within me and beside me and before me.

I’ve already gathered a trinity of prayers for labor and birth. But as Lent surrounds me in the last months before baby arrives, I also find myself thinking about simplicity and surrender. How to let go of any lingering expectations and free myself to enter into whatever God has prepared.


In my latest piece for Catholic Mom, I wrote about the journey from feeling terrified at the prospect of birth to finding peace in what will be a painful but powerful day of discovery:

I’m starting to see the spiritual side of birth in ways that I never would have dreamed when I headed to Labor & Delivery for the first time. Birth as beginning, birth as sacrifice, birth as rite of passage – God is intimately wrapped up in all these ways we understand this work that women do to bring life into the world.

Being intentional about this process – a sort of sacramental preparation – has helped me to bring hope, not fear, to the prospect of bringing another baby into the world.

Lots of ink gets spilled in parenting manuals and glossy magazines about birth plans, birth preparations, even identifying your health care provider’s “birth philosophy.” But approaching a spirituality of birth invites those of us who carry new life within us – as well as those who love and care for us – to view this work as prayer and to place our trust in God who accompanies us from the first contraction to the final push.

Read the rest at

And next week I’ll have the chance to enter intentionally into this deeper reflection, thanks to Peg Conway’s retreat on the spirituality of birth. Nell of Whole Parenting Family and I conspired to bring Peg to the Twin Cities (since both of us are now expecting #3!), and I can’t wait for this afternoon of exploring the prayerful parts of this sacred journey.

If you’re local and want to join us, please find more information on Facebook or at Enlightened Mama in St. Paul, MN, where the retreat will be held. And if you’re too far away to spend Saturday, March 22nd, with us, check out Peg’s wonderful book – Embodying the Sacred: A Spiritual Preparation for Birth.

4 thoughts on “how to prepare for a birth day

  1. Roxane Beauclair Salonen says:

    I didn’t realize you were from St. Paul! That means we could meet someday, since I’m just a hop, skip and jump over in Fargo. Well, maybe some wide hops and skips but still, within the Mid-America vicinity. 🙂 I haven’t been by in the a while and see just how much I’ve missed. I love how you are trying to see the sacred in everything. 😉 God bless you in these final waiting days!

  2. Carolina says:

    Hi there;
    I’m 24 weeks and I’ve been attending to preparation courses, yoga, antenatal courses, have read books, magazines and articles from experts just looking the way the get prepared and calm for the birth of my baby, nothing seems to be easing my worries, I really felt that I needed someone telling me that I can do this, that I will be able to bring my child to this world, and the truth is that only my Lord knows me better than I do, He will provide me the strength and calm I need to go through childbirth, I don’t need to know anything else, He has prepared everything before I even knew I was pregnant, He loves me and loves my child and that is enough, whatever happens He will be with me and there is no reason to fear. I declare His Victory over my worries and fears. I’m not doubting anymore I’m His child and I will do this on the name of His glory. Amen

    Thanks for writing what my heart was looking to read, God talks in different ways and you’ve been one today.

    • Laura says:

      Carolina, your words are giving me strength and calm in my own life today! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I felt very similar while I was preparing for the birth of my first baby – frightened, overwhelmed, searching everywhere for the answers for how to get through but ultimately learning that God would carry me. And of course God did! I pray the same for you.

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