The epic battle of my birth or pregnancy was worse than yours. When I decided to enter the birthing community as a birth doula, it was my hope that I could somehow help change the conversation. Change the generation bridging conversation that includes experienced women telling expecting women about their “dramatic, horrifying” birth experiences. You’ve all heard the stories… The unbearable pain, the “65 hour birth nightmare, the hemorrhoids, the “ripping from front to back”, stitches, use of forcep/vacuum’s, failed epidurals, and the list goes on. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a realist. I don’t believe in sugar coating. Sometimes a healthy dose of honesty goes a long way. However, during my own pregnancy, I don’t actually remember one women I know recount a positive moment from their births. Heck, I have even caught myself giving a one-sided point of view on my own births occasionally. It’s like we are hard wired to dwell on the hardship instead of the reward.
Birth is hard, no doubt. Yet there are some unbelievable and indescribable moments that make it all worth it. I mean the great majority of us somehow choose to do it again, don’t we? One of my favorite things about birth is listening to someone describe the birth of their child (especially when it has just happened; as our memories fade the dialogue surrounding the experience tends to change). I love all the “gory” details. There is something about how a woman discusses her journey up that steep climb through labour and delivery that reminds me how powerful we are. It’s miraculous what our bodies and minds endure throughout pregnancy and labour/delivery.
One of the questions I ask a new client is: “How are you feeling about your impending birth?” What I’m noticing is that many expecting moms are unnecessarily stressed by the “stories” they’ve heard from the women around them. My guidance to all expecting women is simple; every birth is different, for every single woman, and every single delivery. There is really no way to anticipate what you are going to endure. Birth is amazing, yet a completely unique experience for each person.
5 ways to combat feelings of stress related to labour and delivery:
- Focus on the things you can control Understand how you cope with pain outside of childbirth and consider ways to incorporate that into your birth plan.
- Get educated Understand your options during childbirth, take childbirth education classes, ask questions of your care providers, no question is a stupid question.
- Drop “Google” This one is tricky, we all want to know what something means. Google is an amazing piece of technology. But it is also this endless cavern of “maybe this”, “it could be that”. Don’t spend hours’ self diagnosing. Let your very well educated care provider do that for you.
- Learn to nod and smile You will inevitably encounter many women during your pregnancy that want to share. This is a good thing, embrace it. But remember her story, is her experience, NOT YOURS. Consider asking someone with a dramatic story to recount something positive if you are feeling overwhelmed by what they are saying. I think you will be happily surprised by the turn of conversation.
- Relax and have faith Trust in your body. Believe it or not you are biologically built to be able to do this. Your instincts will rarely be wrong, follow your gut and ensure you speak up when something doesn’t seem right.
I challenge any mothers reading my blog to comment a POSITIVE moment from their personal child birthing experience. Let’s change the conversation together.