Editor’s Note: This post is full of gems! Aneesha Smith has been a Labor and Delivery Nurse for 16 years! She’s sharing 5 tips for labor, and also her journey to entrepreneurship! Read on; we are so grateful to share all this goodness!
On False labor vs Real Labor pains:
1. Although it may ALL be uncomfortable, true active labor pains progress in intensity and can also increase in length. What I tell my patients: “If every single contraction comes right on time (every 3-5 min on average) and makes you want to sob and cry, then you should probably be evaluated for active labor.”
2. False or “latent” labor contractions will subside in intensity, space out or go away after hydration, a bowel movement, a break where you are resting with your feet elevated, or just by themselves. If they are getting further and further apart, you may be making cervical change in small, manageable spurts
On managing labor with your family in the hospital setting:
3. Keep family and friends around that bring positive energy and mutual respect for your birth experience, the healthcare setting AND the providers. The atmosphere and positive energy will impact your labor experience for the better!
On pushing for the first time (yes, you can prepare beforehand!):
4. Try to practice the inhale and exhale required to push effectively for 8-10 seconds when you aren’t in labor yet. 8-10 seconds of deep inhale and holding your breath, and then a slow steady release of the breath at the end of 8-10 seconds. It’s important to take NEW deep fresh breath (inhale) before pushing with EVERY contraction. This is a very effective way to add power behind your pushes.
5. Listen to your provider’s tips and understand that this can take up to 2 hours of effort after you’ve reached 10cm. (this is not the movies; it’s a marathon, y’all!)
On the journey to entrepreneurship:
“Congratulations! Your baby is beautiful!”
That phrase is the culmination of many years of my caring for moms through childbirth as a L&D nurse. It is almost always a joyous occasion as families get to finally inspect the many ways in which they have created a near perfect replica of themselves in the smallest of parts and pieces. I get to share in their joy as we carefully place baby on mom’s chest and grab her camera phone to take pictures of their first bonding moments.
Having the pleasure of repeatedly participating in such positive occasions often leaves me telling my birth story to the moms and beaming with pride as I tell them that my children—2 daughters and 1 son, came into this world drama free. And perfect, by mama’s standards, of course.
As my girls grew up and started churning those creative gears (like mama) I noticed that the anime character craze they hungrily latched on to and subsequently started to draw, didn’t really feature or highlight characters with afro puffs or brown skin. And while I was ecstatic that they had such a passion for art, the blond hair, blue eyed creations that were shown to me began to add up…uncomfortably so, for me.
I remembered the elation I felt seeing other dolls, cartoon characters that looked like me. So, I would start Skyping them photos of black fantasy anime that I saw on Instagram and slowly, those images started to change. They became more comfortable duplicating their features and recreating their afro puffs, full lips and chocolate skin in their artistic anime renditions.
That experience of positive redirection, left me wanting to do more—even for us older, working women of color, because I knew that from most every box of diapers, to drooling babies in onesies on TV, that our likeness, young and old, was missing on TV, on store shelves, clothing ads and even still in the workplace.
When I started Reflections By Zana, (Zana being a combination of my daughters’ names Zarya and Anaya) I started with artwork of my “Zana” silhouette. After a friend suggested I make it smaller to maybe, wear to work as a badge, I replicated my art into a 3 inch form, still hand painting and decorating every single one. The idea was a complete hit in a nursing Facebook group I’m in and 2 years later, has fueled many mini growth spurts of Reflections By Zana, LLC.
What are we up to now? Well thanks to the support of many women from many different careers, we have been able to represent in even more ways! We just launched our RBZ Expressions line of art infused work and play accessories, which includes custom stethoscopes (5 colors to choose from), stethoscope charms, surgical scrub hats, graduate greeting cards, tote bags and even clutches, hand and shoulder bags and our slowly expanding t-shirt designs.
I often refer to childrearing like I refer to the childbirthing process: A Labor of Love. And for the new or seasoned mom who must carve a safe space for the “reflections” of themselves to grow and thrive and become comfortable in their own skin…it is a Labor of Love, indeed.
Aneesha Smith RNC-OB, BSN has been a Labor and Delivery nurse for over 16 years. She is a wife and mother of three children, 20, 10 and 12–a son and two younger daughters.
Aneesha was inspired in late 2015 to create Reflections by Zana, LLC out of a passion to give her daughters more creative and positive images of women of color. Through her hand crafted, art-infused work accessories, she has been able to give the special ‘badge of pride’ to over 3500 women–allowing them to personally represent themselves confidently throughout their personal and professional accomplishments and future endeavors.
We’ll be including Reflections by Zana in our 2017 holiday gift guide, but definitely check them out now as well.