This very insightful reflection was written by the doula who helped me bring Markus into the world. I enjoyed her ideas so much that I’m reposting it here.
Oh boy, having just returned from attending a birth I have a hundred things going through my mind! But what I want to share is that over and over again I see the same thing in birth. What you bring in is what you get. Let me explain.
Every birth is so individual, so special in its own right. We have the power as women to decide what the first day and moments of life for our new family will be like. What I am learning in my work with birth is that the experience is actually determined long before you feel those first twinges and tightenings. Time after time I have seen strong women prepare themselves both mentally and physically for the birth experience they desire and then I have the pleasure of witnessing as they achieve those goals. There seems to be at least 2 factors involved. One, these women want to own their birth experience. They are not ready to just let it happen to them, they want to see the map, check out alternate routes to the destination and even pick up some tools and skills that will make the journey easier. Secondly, they act on their desires! They ask questions, face their fears, seek out other sources of information and truly desire to do what is best for them and the child to come.
This pre- determination of your birth experience occurs whether or not you invest yourself in the process. We all carry our preconceived notions of birth, pain, and parenting, We all drag our baggage along with us. We have those terrible or joyous birth stories that we have been told by other mothers swirling through our heads. We have our own issues around self confidence and trusting that our bodies can actually do this thing it was created to do.
Regardless of how you plan, intentionally or by default, your experience will bear that out in the end. Now, I am not saying that every women can plan herself a quick, painless, effortless birth. I am also not saying that things will always go the way you have planned. What I am saying is that when you plan you can handle whatever curve balls birth might throw at you with confidence.
A huge chunk of our birth experience depends on how we mentally process the things that are happening through us and around us. Any competitive athlete will tell you, physical preparation is vitally important, but the mental stamina to complete the challenge is just as important!
The first step is finding out what you don’t know about birth that could influence how you prepare and the choices you will make for your child. Start by questioning the obvious. Challenge notions that have been accepted as truth. For example: Why do we feel ‘pain’ in birth? Sounds like a stupid question doesn’t it? But, could our experience be a reflection of our expectations? I have seen the full spectrum of responses to the work a woman’s body does during birth. They have ranged from intense pleasure to out of control writhing. The factors affecting these births all seemed to lay within the mother’s mind. Her responses to the work. Her ability to flow with and relax into the experience all aided the coping with ‘pain’. When we are prepared for the work ahead, when we realize that the work is really coming through us. Women seem to be able to tap into an amazingly deep well of strength and focus.
I am going to be posting some birth stories and reflections from women I have worked with at some point either prenatally or during their their births as a Doula. They are filled with wisdom. I hope they will help you to start asking yourself how you need to prepare. What do you really want from your birth ? What can you do? What is within your power to control and what is not?
Welcome to the journey.
Believing in Birth,