What’s a Birthing View?

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photo adapted from jessica.diamond

In Ontario, it is standard that after seeing my family doctor to confirm your pregnancy, you’re referred to an OB/GYN for your prenatal care. You see your OB during your prenatal care but whoever the doctor on call is at the hospital is the one who delivers your baby. You take the prenatal classes at the hospital that teach breathing exercises and present all the drug options available as well as all the medical interventions you may experience. Thousands of babies are born each year following this system. Did you know there was an alternative? I didn’t!

I saw my OB for the first 26 weeks when I was pregnant with Chloe. During that time I devoured everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy and childbirth. Then I came across The Official Lamaze Guide. This book completely revolutionized my view of the birth process. Not because it contained anything magical but because it made me realize that I had fallen victim to the common belief that birth was something painful that must be endured, that you need drugs to make it through, and could only be done safely in the hospital. Reading The Official Lamaze Guide made me realize that I had the wrong mentality by presenting a much more attractive option: that midwifery care was available and that birthing could be a natural, positive experience. Birthing can be something to look forward to with anticipation rather than dread. It presented the idea that my body was designed to give birth and that {in normal pregnancies} no medical interference is needed. That’s empowering. A woman, provided with the support she needs and the time she needs can birth her baby, experience the pain, manage it and see it as a positive experience; and I know this to be true! This book made me confident in my role as a woman, designed to give birth.

Whether or not you choose an OB, family doctor or midwife, or whether you choose homebirth, hospital or birthing center; your birth experience will be greatly influenced by how you view labor and childbirth. I encourage you to read the book and to read positive birth stories. However you birth, you can be confident in your body, abilities and your choice!

Labor and birthing can be something to embrace rather than endure. I encourage you to read The Official Lamaze Guide. Read positive birth stories. Don’t ask yourself, “Can I do this?” but tell yourself, “I can do this! My body can do this. I was designed to do this!”. Personally, I’m not into a lot of positive self-talk/pep talks or whatnot but, I’ll tell you this: when my mentality changed from “can I?” to “I can!” my whole view changed and I believe that I would not have the positive experiences I have had without that mental change.

I challenge you today to think about what your birthing view is. There is no right or wrong answer. A few things to help you get your thought process started:

  • What do you honestly expect labor to be like?
  • Do I view labor as a negative thing? Can anything about it be positive?
  • How do I feel about medication? Is it optional or mandatory?
  • Can I do it on my own? What do I need to succeed?

I went on to have two successful home births and hope to have a third. I look forward to sharing more about my birthing choices and experiences over the next couple months.

So I’m interested to know what book(s) you read that made an impact on you when you were expecting?

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ADDED:

After reading some of the wonderful comments and emails today, I’ve been thinking about this post. In my excitement to share with you my discoveries, I think I may have {unintentionally!!} implied that you need to have a midwife to have a positive birth experience. While having a midwife certainly was part of my whole positive experience, my birthing view changed before I even had a midwife. It became a positive one as I read books and realized that there were positive experiences out there, that there were other women who not just survived labor but thrived during it. It changed as I realized that it wasn’t something that I had to dread and be scared about, that labor wasn’t something unknown but that many women travelled this road before me. Labor was something to look forward to, to work towards for the ultimate outcome – that sweet baby! That’s the other key – while I think that a positive view is essential for a positive experience, life (and labor) never goes as planned. However your baby arrives, it will be a job well done, mom!

The other thing that I wanted to add was that although I am an advocate for natural birthing, I’m also a huge advocate of our awesome medical system and the phenomenal job they do! I’ll cover more of that later in the series; this post is just about how we view labor but I just wanted throw that out there.

Keep those comments coming; I love to hear from you!

13 Comments

  1. I was so glad to read your post this morning. I had my Sofia six months ago at “The Farm” in TN, under the care of midwives in a cabin in the woods. The Farm Midwife Center was established ages ago by midwife Ina May Gaskin (whom I met while I was there and is just fabulous). Early in my pregnancy I knew that I did not want to be in a hospital to have my baby. Hospitals and drs give me panic attacks, so I researched alternatives. God did indeed make our bodies to give birth and what an amazing experience. Blessings on your pregnancy.
    Oh and Ina May’s Guide to Natural Childbirth was the first book I read that helped me make my decision.

    • Oh, I read that one too! Our midwife clinic has a book lending library so I read tons! I loved all the positive stories and have read lots about the “Farm”. How awesome that you got to deliver there!

  2. Great post! I read and re-read Ina May’s books and also Birthing from Within. Those and working with a doula were crucial for me to have the mindset and the prep I needed. I was very stressed about having hospital birth and being pressured but ended up feeling very confident that with my husband and doula as advocates that we could have a natural childbirth experience ..and we did! I wish I (and we) as been as prepared to advocate for ourselves post-birth. I was given pitocin without my consent after my daughter was born. Our doula was out of the room at the time and was the one who noticed the additional iv bag. Dr. said it was to “help control bleeding” which I was skeptical of.

  3. We LOVED having midwives. Even though I ended up having c-sections, the really personal level of care they offer is unmatched by o.b.s and doctors. I recommend the book “Hypnobirthing” by Marie Mongan. Although pretty “new-age-y,” there’s a lot of good stuff you can take away from it.

  4. “midwifery care was available and that birthing could be a natural, positive experience.”

    I have had 2 absolutely marvelous c-sections in a hospital and thank God every day that I was able to. Had I lived 100 years ago or even 50 years ago, me and my first daughter would not have survived.

    Please don’t forget to include that hospital and medicated experiences can be just as natural, beautiful and positive as all the rest. My POWER as a woman was in no way diminished because my cervix didn’t open. And nothing in my life has been more special than the moment my daughters were placed in my arms, even though it was in an operating room. I’m sure having that experience at home would not make me view it as “More” special.

    • Hi Keaven! I didn’t mean to imply that one was exclusive of the other or that you have to have a midwife to have a positive experience. I had no idea that either of those things were true; I’d never really heard of a positive birth experience and had certainly never heard of midwifery outside of my historical fiction books. They were true revelations for me!

      “Whether or not you choose an OB, family doctor or midwife, or whether you choose homebirth, hospital or birthing center; your birth experience will be greatly influenced by how you view labor and childbirth. I encourage you to read the book and to read positive birth stories. However you birth, you can be confident in your body, abilities and your choice!” I should also have included whether or not you birthed how you chose in that statement as well. It isn’t so much the “how it happens” as the “how we view it” that I was trying {poorly I suppose} to get across. Society in general seems to view the actual labor/birthing as a negative thing when it does have to be.

      And trust me, having witnessed one of my sister’s 4 C sections, I have all the respect in the world for medical interventions and how special the out of womb and into my arms moments can be – especially there when it wasn’t even a given. The twins may not have been here today had it not been for the marvelous medical capabilities available today!!

      Thank you for commenting today and I am glad that both of your births were a success!

  5. When I had my first I had a midwife, a “can do” attitude and a plan for no medical intervention or drugs at all.

    My daughter was posterior and after 26 hours of hard labor my cervix was not dilating at all. I didn’t have a choice in the matter — I had to have an emergency c-section. While I was overjoyed at the birth of my daughter, I was also devastated that I wasn’t able to have my baby naturally and felt, in part, that I had failed as a mom.

    With my son I was not allowed to have a midwife because I wanted to try for a v-bac (vaginal birth after c-section). My experience the second time around was difficult with significant tearing, but I did get the v-bac I had hoped for under the care of doctors and nurses.

    I felt like my midwife during my first labor experience was detached and unavailable to me — maybe because I wasn’t a simple case. The nurse I had when I delivered my second baby was amazing. I only wish I could have had her instead of my midwife with my first baby.

    Keaven, I knew someone who claimed that she felt a closer bond to the child she birthed naturally compared to the one she birthed via c-section. Having experienced both, I believe that her opinion had more to do with her frame of mind than anything valid.

    I felt equally bonded to both of my babies regardless of how they arrived.

    • I think whether it’s drugs/no drugs, natural/section, breast/formula many of us will feel a {fasle!} sense of guilt or failure. As moms, we do the best we can and do what we feel is right for our little ones. That’s success!!

      How sad that your midwife experience wasn’t ideal. I had the same feelings with my Doula the with my first pregnancy. We just couldn’t connect. What a blessing though, that you had such a positive experience with your nurse!

      Thanks everyone for these comments – it’s been an eye opener for me.

  6. Jennifer, I agree about the false sense of guilt or failure that many moms feel… Especially with the first since everything you’re doing is new!

    I felt more relaxed with my second because I’d been through labor, breastfeeding everything already… With my first I learned a lot about trusting my intuition and and that made things seem smoother with my second.

    What a shame about your doula with your first baby. Did you have a doula with your second as well? I considered it, but we couldn’t afford one.

    • I did have a doula with my second as well. Unfortunately, though she was called, she didn’t make it to the birth. I’d read about how wonderful it was to have one, encouraging and helpful but unfortunately I have yet to experience it. We did request a refund and got all but $100 back from the second doula. They were expensive and because of financial considerations as well as failed experiences; we will not be having a doula next time around.

      I have heard of doulas in training who offer their services for free in exchange for the experience and reference. If you ever find yourself expecting again, you could always inquire around.

  7. I did not have a doula, but I did engage the help of my sister who was fabulous. The midwives focused on the baby and my sister focused on me. My husband was also great, but he focused on not freaking out!

  8. You may enjoy reading the birth stories of my two oldest (I still haven’t posted the baby’s birth story).

    Emahry’s Birth Story ~ http://a-heart4home.blogspot.com/2009/05/emahrys-birth-story-part-1.html

    Jonathan’s Birth Story ~ http://a-heart4home.blogspot.com/2010/09/jonathans-birth-story-part-1.html

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