It actually astounds me how little we know about birth before we get pregnant and realise we’d better get our heads round it all.
Yes we have sex ed at school, but does it go any way to demystifying the miraculous process of pregnancy and birth? No. Instead, it’s delivered in a mechanical fashion, while everyone just hopes it will be over soon.
At any point in this ‘learning’ did your teacher, or ANYONE say to you- “you should be really blown away by the power of your body, the utter capacity that you have within you to make new life is so incredible when you think about it!”. Unlikely.
We are left to piece it together from films, tv, other people’s stories etc, most of this stuff being astonishingly poorly informed.
We enter into pregnancy pretty clueless about what’s normal, and what’s optimal. This is where it starts to go wrong, because KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. But only if it’s accurate.
So, here are my top 3 preconceptions about labour and birth, and the reality beneath the bullshit.
- You give birth on your back , on a bed. I mean I could go on about this ALL DAY, but seriously, just think about it. You don’t choose to be upright to open your bowels just so you don’t get covered in actual crap. It’s because you JUST KNOW that it’s the best way to move anything out of your body. I believe this is the single biggest thing that derails births that could otherwise have been better. There are mountains of evidence supporting upright birth, but we are often too blinded by our conditioning to even consider it. And even if we do, we may lack the resolve to listen to our bodies if we are encourage to lay down. Which leads me onto my next point…
- You’re not allowed to…(insert basically ANYTHING- eat in labour, be upright, have a home birth, go so far overdue, etc etc) I don’t care what it is, if it’s not an actual criminal offence, you ARE allowed. That doesn’t mean you should, just that you need to know it’s your choice- that your body is still your own, and your baby is still your own. It’s not for you to have to talk yourself out of anything, it’s for your caregivers to provide you with the info to give informed consent. Or decline.
- It’s the worst pain you’ll ever experience in your life. Now let’s be clear – I am, in general, a wimp. I have a LOW pain threshold. I feel everything. I will talk about a paper cut all day, I don’t drink cold water because of my sensitive teeth, I take paracetamol with every period (and I lust after my kids’ calpol in a big way, but I guess that’s more of a nostalgia thing). But I got an 8lb11oz baby (with his fist on his head) out of my vagina, in my front room, with zero pain relief. And that wasn’t me looking to prove a point- it honestly never crossed my mind. Why? Because I had other coping tools- relaxation, breathing, movement, massage, scent, music, affirmations, a whole mindset piece that told me- this cannot be stronger than you, this cannot be harmful to you- this IS you, you are DOING it, so you do not need to be afraid of these sensations. And truly, that’s what I want for all women.
I don’t care if you have an epidural, a hospital birth, one that follows very conventional cliche of least optimal positions and conditions, I DO NOT CARE. I do not judge that birth as less, or worse than my drug free home water birth. I DO CARE that you make truly informed choices. Because that is what will leave you satisfied and empowered.
I am SO SICK of hearing, “if only I’d known”. Don’t leave it to chance. Get yourself an antenatal education that is designed for woman like you- those who want to take control of what they can, and learn to let go of what they can’t. Those who want an intelligent, balanced conversation, not just about the mechanics, but about how it FEELS to experience all of this. Those who want to be part of something bigger- an uprising that says, “We do not tolerate this lack of acknowledgement of the power of our bodies, and the strength of our minds. Birth will not happen to us, we will DO IT.”
Do it like an absolute mother. You know it makes sense.
You can join me this Sunday and next for my first hypnobirthing group of the year for 10 hours of revelations and practical applications. Ongoing support and payment plans as needed. Check out the course and book your spot here.
With love, Keri x