I have had the immense blessing and privilege of giving birth five times. It is a gift and a miracle every time. I don’t take that for granted.
Over the years, I have learned that birth has the capacity to draw you closer to your spouse and to God, the capacity to love another more fiercely than you ever thought possible, and to give you the ultimate “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” mountaintop moment.
Birth also has the capacity to leave you feeling broken, abandoned, abused and deeply flawed. It has the capability of literally destroying your marriage, your sex life and how you view the world around you. That sounds overly dramatic but I assure you it isn’t.
I have experienced both sides of the coin. Each birth experience has taught me more about bringing Christ in as my focus and Savior (in spiritual and physical ways,) about becoming more and more informed to the process and options for treatment care, and trusting the Lord and how He designed my body to function without interventions in a healthy pregnancy but also to trust Him when or if something bad happens. I have had to learn to let Him guide me through healing after a very traumatic birth. I’ve had to learn that He wants to be involved in *every* part of my life-especially childbearing.
I feel so strongly about this topic because I had so many unfortunate experiences in birth simply because I neglected to educate myself on the topic. Part of my purpose (in life, in blogging, etc) is to encourage prospective parents to learn all they can, lean on the Lord, and trust the process. I have found that those simple sounding points make night and day difference in a couple’s experiences.
I had no idea when I saw that first positive pregnancy test how huge of a life event the act of labor would be. So let me tell you: It. Is. Huge.
I also had no idea that my history of childhood abuse would end up being such a HUGE factor in every pregnancy and labor experience. It doesn’t have to be a negative thing, or ruin your birth experience but it can if you aren’t prepared for it and your care-provider is unaware.
Pause for a moment, check out this article and come back. It is a must-read!
So, after reading that, I hope you understand the importance of what I am sharing. 🙂 I know people think I am some kind of nut for posting articles all the time on evidence based birth practices and midwives and Hypnobabies and such but I have my reasons, yes? Of course, yes. 😉 And as the article says, we do need to raise awareness that there is birth trauma happening every day. However, I would much more do what I can to help any of you avoid experiencing that trauma in the first place.
Before I go on though, please hear me. I am NOT trying to instill more fear around labor than there already is. I’m simply saying to inform yourself. You have GOT to do your research regardless of whether you birth in a hospital with a scheduled c-section or you birth out in a field by yourself. I don’t care where you birth, or how you birth as long as you are aware of the pros, cons, pitfalls, and how to trust your body and use your voice.
I’m going to sound hippie-dippie here for a moment but bear with me- women’s bodies are CRAZY amazing!!! God made them to birth babies. They have been birthing, with and without help for thousands of years. This idea that labor is something that needs to be run and managed and treated like a sickness is sickness in and of itself. Preggos, you body is amazing!!! It was created to make another person! Then grow and feed that person, and then change to birth said person and change to feed and sustain this person. ALL. BY. ITSELF. by the very grace and wonder of the Creator. So don’t be like I was for so long and be scared of it. Embrace the amazingness that comes with making a tiny person. Embrace that yes, we live in a fallen world and things don’t always go perfectly, but God is a wise and good Creator and by and large, our bodies are plenty capable. And when we do need help, there are wise people out there that help guide your body to do it’s thing.
Trust your body. Trust that your body knows when everything is ready and will go into labor by itself. This has been a hard lesson for me, (and admittedly something I would probably struggle with if we were to have another baby at some point) since I typically go past 40 weeks (Harmony was born three days prior but was induced a week before her due date.) At the time, we believed Zoey was born at 42 weeks, looking back though, I think my midwife was right and Zoey was one of two, and the other had miscarried very early on. If that is true, that would have put Zoey closer to 47 weeks gestation!!! But it is in my genes to have long pregnancies. My great-grandma had a high-risk pregnancy that lasted 12 months. Can you imagine??? I cannot. So anyway, going past 40 weeks is so hard because all of mainstream culture acts like you are broken if you haven’t had a baby yet. Everyone is excited to meet the baby and I am SO exhausted and miserable…it is hard to believe in that moment that your body isn’t deeply flawed and in need of some assistance. I get it. Phoebe was born at 43 weeks gestation (looking SO much younger than Zoey did when she was born by the way) and was my first birth to completely start on it’s own when my water broke on it’s own. So cool!
Embrace the contractions. I know that sounds crazy, but it is my biggest piece of advice. During my fifth pregnancy, Hypnobabies taught me how to relax through the contractions and all of labor and have a pain-free labor…using just my body. No drugs, no side-effects, just embracing what God had made my body to do.
People. I birthed a ten pound, 2 oz, 22 inch long baby with no pain, and no tearing or episiotomies completely naturally, while talking, smiling and being so peaceful. Quite the opposite from my first natural birth! Ha! (I just mean pain, SO MUCH PAIN. There was no tearing or epi’s in that labor either, unlike my hospital births. And side note, the pain was worth it to me to have the birth experience I wanted. I had zero regrets for the first time in four births. Zoey was ten pounds, four oz, 21 and a half inches long and was the most barrel-chested baby I have ever seen. She was ginormous! LOL)
That 5th birth = Best. Experience. Ever.
And (this may sound more Pentecostal than Baptist, Ha!) such a spiritual experience, too. I literally felt carried in the arms of Christ from transition through pushing. He was my peace and security and helped me surrender to labor. You can read about that REALLY cool story here: Part One Part Two.
Trust your baby. Their umbilical cords are amazing and work with them, not against them. (Read about that here.) Did you know they can instinctively crawl to their mother’s breast when they are ready to feed? I read about it and tried it with Zoey when she was born. I had set her down on my thigh/tummy not long after she was born and was shocked to watch her “crawl” up my stomach toward my breast to nurse. AMAZING. (Read about that and other ways to have a blissful first few hours post-partum, here.) Seriously, our Creator goes so much further than genius. It is staggering.
Educate yourself! Please don’t leave it up to your care provider (of any kind) to tell you what to do and guess what is best for you. Ask questions, find out how they do things, read books, watch documentaries (stay far, far away from that show “A Baby Story” though, okay?), read birth stories, talk to other women you love and trust, watch happy births on YouTube. Block out the bad. Once you have informed yourself and feel comfortable with your decisions, don’t let people speak doom over you and your birth. Hang on to the positive stories and people and let the other stuff go, whether it is someone who wants to tell you their horror story or just doesn’t approve of what you want from your birth and care provider. Your body, your baby, your journey with the Lord. Period.
So anyway, I hope this explains why I get so passionate about having a happy pregnancy, birth, and baby.
I will be putting out trimester-specific posts on what things I think are helpful to research and decide for yourself. Links to finding a practitioner that will be what you want, tips for heart-burn relief, favorite birthy books to read, evidence based practices on things like epidurals, breastfeeding, birth positions, fetal monitoring, etc.
I think these posts will be fun and hopefully really helpful!!! And I will add, that birthing in a birth center was what ended up being best for me. It may not be best or even possible for you and that is great, too! Regardless of where you birth, I want to help you be informed, empowered and feeling secure.
One of these days maybe I will actually become a doula or midwife or Hypnobabies instructor, but in the meantime, I love talking birth and sharing info with all of YOU!
Do you have something specific regarding birth, pregnancy or trauma you would like me to address? Any questions for me about birth or my experiences?
If you have had a baby or two before, what do you wish someone would have told you? What was your best birth experience?
Talk some birth with me, people!!! <3Gina