Monday, June 25, 2012

Birth Matters

To many, birth is what they see on TV. A scary, painful, emergency. While birth can be scary, can be painful and can be an emergency, the majority of the time it is not. So why does birth matter, after all "As long as baby is healthy, nothing else matters" right? WRONG.

"As long as baby is healthy, nothing else matters."
This is not true. We all want a healthy baby, that's a given. But you matter, your feelings matter, your memories matter. You matter.

Let me relate an experience here. When I was towards the end of laboring (at 10cm) I was not yet ready to push. There was this wonderful nurse who stayed, with me through shift change. But at that moment, she became the medical norm. She mouthed to my midwife "She isn't pushing." My midwife didn't hear her so she said it a bit louder "She isn't really pushing" as if I, the one in pain, wasn't even there. I instantly felt like I couldn't do it. I felt like I was trying so hard and I wasn't doing what was expected of me. My confidence dwindled along with my will to push. To diminish a mother in labor like this will not only have her question her ability but will also effect the way she feels about her birth experience. I am one of the lucky ones, having people there to support me and only having that one experience of being questioned. But imagine being a birthing mom whose midwives, nurses or doctors wont listen to you. The truth is, you better than anyone know how to progress labor just by knowing the way you feel.

Whether you are planning an un-medicated birth with little to no medical interventions, or a birth with pain medication, what you want plays a big role in how you feel. Birth can be an empowering experience. Birth is powerful, amazing and it will change you whether you like it or not. However, if things are done to you or around you that you don't understand, you may feel disconnected or brushed aside. The experience you have may leave you traumatized or worse. The experience the mother has matters.

So stuff happens. Medical personnel ignore moms feelings, moms go into panic mode because they don't know whats going on, sometimes even dad can make mom feel like she isn't good enough. But what can we do? How do we deal with these situations and prevent them from happening to other moms?

  • Education. This is key in having an empowering birth experience. Know all you can about birth AND about the place you will be laboring/birthing. Does your doctor let you move freely? Will he break your water without warning? Will they induce if you are "progressing slowly"? etc.
  • Trust your body. Know that what you are feeling matters and can affect the way you labor.
  • Trust your midwife/obstetrician. If you don't trust or like you care provider before you go into labor, how much worse will it be when you are contractions are a minute apart and he/she decides they want to do something you didn't want.
  • Understand the benefits and consequences of every intervention you choose as part of your labor process.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Your care provider is there to help you have the birth you choose. Ask about anything you may be unsure of.
  • Watch videos of women laboring so you may know what to expect.
  • Visualize your ideal birth. Since birth is so unexpected you may not get exactly as you want, but knowing what you want will help you to make difficult decisions in the long run.
  • Hire a doula. Yep, go hire one right now!! Doulas (for those who don't yet know) are a support person for mom and dad. They are there to help you through labor and support all of your decisions. 
  • Make a birth plan. It doesn't have to be specific and can be very short if you wish. It can be anything from a paragraph saying that you trust your doctors but would like to be part of every decision or a list of things that are important to you.
Birth matters. You matter. The United States has pretty terrible statistics for a 1st world country. Let's change that by spreading the word. 

*If you are struggling to understand your birth experience or have been affected negatively buy it, I encourage you to talk to someone. Whether you call up a doula and ask to talk, have a good friend who will validate your feelings or shoot me a message, it's important to know you aren't alone in your feelings. It's ok to be sad when things don't go as planned!*

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