Lavender and the Ice Cube: Preparation for Life (and Birth)
by Melissa McLaughlin
From the time I was pregnant with our first child, lavender has been a part of our “toolkit” for surviving and thriving through birth and parenthood. Over time I will share some of the ways we have used lavender as parents.
Our first experience with lavender and parenthood came at our Birth Education class about a month before the birth of our first son.
The childbirth educator led us through an exercise to demonstrate our ability to manage intense (perhaps painful) experiences. I highly recommend doing this activity during pregnancy. It is great even for non-pregnant people if you want to experience your ability to stay centered in intense situations.
First we held an ice cube clenched in the palm of our hand for 60 seconds. This may not sound hard, but I welcome you to do it. It was incredibly excruciating. I remember thinking, oh dear, if an ice cube can bring us to our knees, how in the world will we make it through birth.
It seemed like the opposite of what our birth educator should be putting us through. Fortunately the activity didn’t stop there.
After a moment we took the ice cube in our other hand and she had us all visualize something or someone we love as we focused on our breath for 60 seconds while holding the ice cube. Time went quickly. It felt like maybe 20 seconds. The room filled with surprised little laughs of release.
We did a third round in which we smelled lavender oil on a cotton ball (I am sure sachets would also work well) while we continued to focus on our breath. I swear it felt like 3 seconds, the blink of an eye. It was shocking.
The activity gave me a powerful direct experience of my ability to manage intensity with the use of simple herbs and, visualization, and breath work.
During pregnancy there are so many unknowns, but this exercise helped me feel confident in my ability to manage the intensity of birth.