January 20, 2016
You're about to have a baby! What's more exciting than that? It's thrilling (and perhaps a wee-bit terrifying) to think that the time has finally come to meet your precious baby. And for the select few you may tell that you are in labor, it's thrilling for them, too.
I truly enjoy the prep work it takes before birth; I love the facing the challenge. The fluffing of the proverbial nest is both physical and mental. I spend time drawing strength from other women who have gone before me. I take classes, read many books, devour countless YouTube videos and birthing stories on blogs. I also re-teach myself how to relax, which can be a chore as a Type A momma! Hypnobabies tracks and breathing techniques are my favorite to help take great naps during pregnancy and make labor easier.
After having two hospital births that were induced with pitocin, an epidural, and an episiotomy with stitches, I wanted a change. The doctors and nurses told me what to do when — who was the one having a baby? I decided that I wanted to be in control when I had my third child. I wanted to feel the process of labor and follow evidence-based care. I wanted to learn my body and to tell my midwife when it was time for me to push — not the other way around.
So many levels of bonding happen! Of course, natural birth helps initiate the bonding process with your baby thanks to oxytocin hormones, but birth also can be incredibly bonding with your partner. Some of my fondest memories of my second natural birth are of my husband holding my hand while perched behind me when I was in the birthing pool, whispering in my ear encouraging words. He was my rock.
The nine months (or 10 depending on how long you incubate) with your provider is cause in itself to feel a bond with them, but when you have your entourage actually there witnessing and supporting you during one of your most treasured moments in life, how could you not bond even deeper? Having good support can be crucial with a natural birth. They are your encouragers, your “you need to stay hydrated” reminders, your gentle massagers, and breathing emphasizers. Having other women around to draw strength from (get a doula!) and cheer you on leaves you with a connection to their heart for eternity.
Being able to move helps cope with the intensity of contractions and encourage the baby to move down into a good position to make it to the exit faster. With other types of births, movement can be restricted or limited to only the bed, which could make for a longer labor.
Yes, drinking water is needed to keep hydrated. But getting in water in labor — and even birthing in it —feels marvelous. Who doesn't want an excuse to soak in a tub of warm water for hours? There is a vast difference in how a contraction feels outside the water versus in. It may not take away all the intensity, but it immensely helps to encourage relaxation and easier position change. I crave the water when contractions start to pick up and can't wait to get back in if I have to get out for whatever reason.
The birthing goddess that immerges when a woman is in labor is a spectacular thing. She comes at a time when a women is most vulnerable and yet at her strongest. She comes from deep within to be the strength she needs to get through this one contraction at a time. She is the key inside to overcome the intensity and challenge ahead. I love how birth photography can capture this essence of a women beautifully.
Ah good ol' oxytocin again. It makes you feel like you climbed Mt. Everest after the baby slides out. The pain instantaneously stops and you are left with a sense of relief, pride, and wanting to shout “I did it!” — all while falling in love with your slippery new baby. Even after two births beforehand, I did not feel like a woman until I had my third child naturally. It was empowering not only for my birth experience, but to myself as a women and a mom — the feeling that if I can handle that then I can do anything.
Having a baby is kind of a big deal, not just the excitement of adding a new member, but it is work on a momma's body! I've found that my natural births were easier to recover from as I didn't have interventions that I needed to recover from as well. I could walk right afterwards, I wasn't in stitches or pain down under from an episiotomy, no back pain from the epidural, no IV bruises or fluid swelling. Besides being a little tired or needing some extra iron, I felt pretty amazing afterwards.