The birth of your baby is the most important moment in any woman’s life. It will change you and it will definitely change the way you see the world.
Whether you choose home or hospital, birthing balls or birth centres, the most important thing is that YOU are comfortable. It is a very personal choice and one that no one can (or should) make for you. Being relaxed is the best thing you can do to prepare yourself. A stressed out and frightened woman is not going to have the smoothest labour she could have. She will feel more pain, and her baby will share in her anxiety leading to a harder and more arduous labour.
There are many options for where you can labour and it is worth thinking deeply about where would suit you best.
Women are designed by nature to give birth vaginally. For a small minority of women, things are not that simple. Complications arise and in those cases, we can be thankful for our modern hospitals and trained doctors. But those women who really need intervention, those babies that need special care are not the majority, much as our societies current birthing practices would have us believe. In our current culture there is such an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty about birth. The medicalisation of the event has women everywhere believing that they need a team of people to bring their baby in to the world. They NEED drugs to help them get through the pain, they can’t do it alone.
Let me tell you, nature is a clever creator. We have evolved to be perfect in incubating, sustaining and birthing our babies. You CAN do it. As a woman, your body has been designed for this very purpose. To continue the species and to birth your baby naturally brings us back to our true purpose in life.
To numb the pain with drugs and remove ourselves from the full experience denies us the ability to see our true potential as a woman. What they fail to tell you is how these drugs affect your labour. Did you know that having a epidural can lengthen your labour, slow contractions and cause your baby to become distressed. These things in turn make it far more likely that you will need help birthing your baby. This may mean forceps, vontusee or even emergency c section. And what happens after? Your baby may need resuscitation or support breathing. One intervention in labour, such as the use of drugs, can lead to you needing several more interventions for the safe delivery of your baby.
Imagine you are at the base of a steep hill. There are many more of these you must climb in order to make your way home. It is an infamous route among hikers and you feel excited to be following in the footsteps of so many others before you. You start out enjoying the fresh air in your lungs, the feeling of stretching your legs. The views are breathtaking and you wonder how much better they will be from the top. Suddenly, halfway up the third hill a safety car appears and the driver calls out to you “I am here if you need me!” That innocent little call plants a seed of doubt in your mind “maybe I wont make it, maybe I will need him to get me home.”
You push on over another hill, trying to enjoy the patches of wildflowers you spot but always aware of the car following closely behind. At the base of the next hill you notice a blister forming on your ankle, and glance longingly back at the car. The walk has started to become something to be endured rather than a challenging yet rewarding task. Honing in on your obvious self doubt the car pulls closer and the driver tells you “You don’t have to do this alone, get in!” You shake your head, wanting to finish what you started but feeling unsupported, silly for being stubborn.
Your pace slows and your calves burn. “You haven’t got enough time, the driver shouts – it will be dark soon, you must get there!” Panic starts to build inside, what happens if I don’t make it in time? Can I do this?”
At the base of the steepest hill you stop, defeated. You climb in through the car door which has been “thoughtfully” opened for you by the driver. He drives off over the hill towards home. It is a bumpy ride and the views are blurred as you speed by. Then the car comes to an abrupt halt. It has broken down. You sense that you wont make it home before darkness anyway, sitting back leaving it to the driver to fix. After all, this journey is no longer in your control.
You eventually arrive at your destination but realise that you missed the most exhilarating climb, the best views. You begin to wonder if you could have done it alone after all, but the driver reassures you that you would never have made it. You accept his words, after all he knows the route well and probably knows best. But you always wonder…
This is the problem with drugs being so normalised in labour. What would have happened if that car had never come. Would she have sat down and refused to walk any further or would she have found the strength to go on? The offer of drugs is almost as detrimental to a woman’s labour as the actual taking of them, since it is indicated that “You can’t do this, you need something to help you” planting fear and doubt in an otherwise positive mind. These stories then get passed on to other women who may not have had children yet. But who will remember the stories of how the women needed the drugs, how it was unbearable without them. These women then go in to their labour, not with excitement and positivity but trepidation, fear and panic.
This dangerous cycle means that so many women miss out on their evolutionary right to birth their baby naturally. To seize the contraction, ride it to the top and come out the other side filled with awe at what they have just experienced, the wonder of the human body and with a new view as to what we are capable of and how incredible we really are.