Tips for creating a compassionate birth experience
It's the seventh birthday of my daughter this week. We sat on beach today and I pointed to our old apartment and told Ariella how she was born there, overlooking the sea, the moon and Bondi Beach... what a way she was welcomed to this earth 7 years ago. Birth for a woman is a passage of rights. It is the most awesome experience your body goes through, where you can surrender to a process so huge, connect to a greater power and hopefully end up with a soul you will share your life with. This may not be the typical image that arises when talking about birth; oh yes there is pain, its messy and hell, it is not always pretty, but it's awesome all the same.
My husband and I decided on a home birth because:
1. I was young, healthy and had a low risk pregnancy.
2. There is a higher chance of birth going smoothly when there is no intervention and the mother feels secure.
3. We found an experienced midwife we trusted and were only a 10 minute drive to hospital in case of an emergency.
My experience having home births with both my children was wonderful. Not without minor hiccups, such as haemorrhaging after my son, that luckily halted with some homeopathic treatment, just as I was about to transfer to hospital.
After giving birth I had the wisdom and sanity to recognise there is no "perfect" birth.
All my judgement fell away towards fellow mothers. Woman can choose what works for each of us. To birth a child is massive and ultimately the most important thing is that there is healthy baby and a supported mother. Becoming a mother, going through birth, tests us at a deep level and when we come out the other side we can also see it is a moment in time. The birth lasts hours or days... raising a baby to adulthood takes a lifetime.
These are some points that helped me immensely in my births and I trust can help other mothers-to-be in any birth scenario.
Learn from the WOMAN who have been there
From all the research I did, I found the most useful was reading other women's birth stories and watching movies of a range of births including natural births. Births are so individual and unique, that while an intellectual understanding is useful in knowing the basic fundamentals, being able to witness through windows of film and stories helps birth become less foreign. When else are we exposed to it in our society? Then in our mind it allows birth to become less like the typical movie scene of a woman screaming with her legs in the air on a hospital bed…
Remove PAIN from your vocabulary
Your words hold incredible power and they influence your thoughts and your experience. I chose to look at contractions as "waves of power." The stronger they are, the more "powerful" they are. The more powerful they are, the sooner you will be holding your baby in your arms. If you start saying how much pain you are in, it a guarantee you are going to focus on the suffering in the pain a tonne more; I tested it and can vouch for it! Where attention goes, energy flows. (*note it's a good idea to do this consciously BEFORE labour starts!!)
TRUST your body
We are made to birth babies and our bodies are phenomenal. Medicalising birth has given an impression that we are not capable and installed a certain fear into the experience. While on occasions intervention is life saving, in general, the statistics show that with increased intervention is increased complications.
Creating life is a miracle beyond science. It is one of a higher power and in moments such as birth, we bridge space to connect to a greater energy.
LET GO of attachment
It's a great idea to have a birth plan- and I highly recommend you do so-however at the end of the day you can set intentions to have the best chance of having the birth you desire but when that baby decides it is coming you just have to LET GO. (It's a test for getting ready for parenthood.) I have friends who have been committed natural birth and hell, it just was not going to happen. If you are staunchly set in stone about the way you want it to go, you can be setting yourself up for feelings of failure if it doesn't happen... something you do not need as a new mum... or ever!
For my sons birth our midwife had a stomach bug and when I called her at 2am she had to let me know our birth was the first one in 10 years she had to miss! Thank god instead of panicking, I was able to surrender to perhaps my back up midwife was the one I needed that night- and she was simply brilliant.
Research and CONNECT with your professional birth team
This is of such great importance because when you KNOW your midwife or doctor, ( and their backup) their views and the way they operate in births, so you can make sure you are on the same page. If you are wanting a natural birth but seeing an obstetrician that has a high rate 0f c-sections you're not giving yourself the best chance of experiencing the birth you would like and the same goes if you are sure you want a epidural or pain relief, then don't go to the birth centre!
Feeling comfortable with your professional care, their skills, their views and them as people, means you are able to relax during labour when you won't be able to really think logically, nor should you have to — its time to get primal!
This too shall PASS
NO matter how "powerful," how distressed, how pleasant, how crazy, any part of the birth is, eventually it too will pass. This was pure gold for me to be reminded when I was having moments of being overwhelmed or doubt.