When I was pregnant with Sadie I refused to do any research about labor and birth. I was petrified at the idea of experiencing all the pain I knew to expect.
This time around I'm going to research until I'm sick of researching.
I've been reading "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth." The book is fantastic. The first half consists of beautiful natural birth stories written by women who are happy and at peace with their birth experience. The second half is Ina May's moment to shine as she analyses different aspects of birth and argues for minimal intervention and a peaceful and loving birth experience. In her book she quotes a paragraph from Stephen King's story "The Breathing Method."
"Believe me: if you are told that some experience is going to hurt, it will hurt. Most pain is in the mind, and when a woman absorbs the idea that the act of giving birth is excruciatingly painful--when she gets this information from her mother, her sisters, her married friends, and her physician--that woman has been mentally prepared to feel great agony."
He's right. This man, who has never labored or carried a child, knows what he's talking about. Movies, stories, books all describe birth as the most painful experience a woman will ever go through. It's a pretty scary experience to look forward to.
In my previous pregnancy I attended an 8 hour birth and delivery class offered at Mary Birch. This was only due to Logan's stubborn insistence that we attend at least one birthing class in order to feel slightly prepared during the labor. We sat through the class and watched some birthing videos from the 80s. I refused to watch the C Section videos and threw pitying glances at the one woman in the room who was doomed to a C Section due to a breech baby. When Logan and I walked out of the classroom I told him under no circumstances was I going to have an epidural or a C Section. Little did I know how fear of pain and death can result in you agreeing to whatever the doctor and nurses say to protect the baby.
I did not understand the dangers of pitocin. I did not know how one intervention usually leads to a C Section. Start with pitocin -> epidural -> baby has fetal distress -> C SECTION!
It's a simple equation and it makes sense. Now, I know it's not always the case. I have met some lucky women who have been induced with pitocin and had an epidural and were able to birth vaginally. I am jealous. Unfortunately in my case it led to an emergency C Section and horrible horrible pain from 24 hours of pitocin and two epidurals that didn't work for the last seven hours of labor. (And many other women with similar stories ended up with C Sections.)
Ina May argues that childbirth should not be seen as the most painful experience of a woman's life. Pain exists but it shouldn't be focused on. Birth is about surrender.
Surrender. I am not good at surrendering. On flights I sit white knuckled and will the plane to stay in the air. If someone else is driving the car I flinch and sometimes press my imaginary gas pedal. I worry about Sadie being alive and check her breathing in the middle of the night. I worry if I don't feel the baby kick me throughout the day. The concept of surrendering and accepting God/Universe/Life's will is very difficult.
One of my favorite books in the whole world has a quote that exemplifies what Ina May is saying: "That which yields is not always weak."
By not fighting the pain, by not fearing the pain - but by yielding to the experience and accepting the ebbs and flows of childbirth I (and perhaps all women) can birth naturally. Pain should not be the focal point. Surrendering to the contractions and accepting that my body is doing what it was designed to do will allow my cervix to dilate quickly and release the baby from my womb.
Meet the Blogger!
I'm a mom. A writer. A lover of good fantasy. A proponent of nursing when possible. A birth advocate. I am absolutely horrible at keeping my house clean or the dishes washed or the laundry done. I strongly believe in women having a positive birth. When we start to respect women's rights to birth the way they want, we can start to treat women as equal people in this world.
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