First and foremost: If you are a first-time expectant mother, this article is for you! My recommendation for the first step of getting ready (emotionally and physically) for your birth plan is to: please, please stop asking your friends about their birth experiences, unless you know they were great. I promise you that most of what you hear from other mothers will scare you. This article is meant to do the opposite. So if you want to find some resources and reassurances about giving birth with lots of support and helpful techniques, keep reading.
MOTHERHOOD RITE OF PASSAGE
There is some sort of stigma that we have in the motherhood community that causes us moms to scare others who are getting ready to have a child; it’s almost like a rite of passage. I don’t know what makes so many women want to share their downright horrible birth stories with other women who are expecting a child, but if you are guilty of this you know who you are (and please, please stop it!). I’m sorry if your birth wasn’t a good experience. I really am. But not everyone is destined to have a bad experience. By sharing these scary stories, we can negatively affect an expectant mother who is already probably tripped out about giving birth, and it is sure to add to the stress and difficulty of the overall process.
MY BIRTH STORY
When I tell people that I gave birth without an epidural, most people look at me with bewildered looks on their faces. For my first child, I went in with a simple plan: I wanted to go as long as possible without intervention, but I wasn’t opposed to an epidural. As it turns out, I didn’t end up needing it– and I had a great birth! What’s funny is that I don’t like sharing my birth story with people, because so many women get angry at me for my positive experience; however, I am not apologetic for having enjoyed giving birth.
What I do want to do is share how I got to be so comfortable going into labor and share the resources which prepared me. I am not a doctor, but in my *limited* experience I came to the conclusion that a good chunk of our labor experience is defined by our emotions during and about the labor and birthing process.
*Note: For some women there are complications and anatomical challenges which do, indeed, cause for a poor labor experience. Many times these complications require the use of medicine. I am in no way shaming any woman who has had a complication and needed medical intervention. I was fortunate enough not to need any intervention, and I am simply sharing how (in my opinion) your emotional perspective can help (or hinder) your delivery experience.
MY GOAL IS TO HELP YOU
You may think what I am saying is a load of bull, but if you read up on what I am about to share with you, I have a feeling you may be swayed in a positive way. I don’t benefit from sharing this information with you. Literally my only goal here is to help you get the information you need to have a more relaxed and easy labor.
Currently, there are mothers contemplating their own birth plan; maybe you are one of those mothers. If so, I write this for you.
RESOURCES THAT HELPED ME
When I was about half way through my pregnancy, it started to occur to me that I would have to do some research and preparation for labor. During my research, I started to feel unsure about the situation and anxiety slowly started to creep in. Luckily, I have one very cool “hippie” friend who gave me what I now think is literally the best book for preparation of delivery.
The book was called “Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth,” written by Ina May Gaskin. Ina May is a midwife who has chronicled her experiences and helped to provide education on childbirth. She has delivered hundreds of babies, and so many of those deliveries were done naturally, without intervention. This was a very foreign concept to me.
THE MEDICAL MODEL TODAY
It recently occurred to me that the majority of people I know today have had some type of intervention during their delivery whether it be an epidural, Pitocin, forceps, vaccum, c-section etc. Ina May goes on to explain how the medical model in our country today pushes these processes and even makes the natural birthing process more difficult on women because of the pressure put on them by having intervention processes in place (i.e. “if you don’t push that baby out in an hour, were taking it out!” Anxiety provoking, right?).
Now, I am not saying that you should give birth in your bathtub at home without any help. In fact, I am a huge proponent of depending on a healthcare provider to oversee pregnancy and birth. What I am saying, though, is that I think women are not given the chance or even enough time to naturally deliver their children– in fact we are programmed to learn about these intervention techniques from our doctors, our friends, the internet etc…
But if you educate yourself on alternative options, you may find that there is enough information about how your body is programmed (for thousands of years) to do what it was built to do without these interventions. I hope you will consider these resources and educate yourself on the natural birthing process. I wish you luck!
• Ina May’s Ted Talk:
• Ina May Gaskin: http://inamay.com/