Are we trying too hard at giving birth?
Congratulations, you're pregnant! Amazing news! Will it be a boy or a girl? When's it due? Where are you giving birth? Have you got any names yet? Now bring on the millions of pieces of advice, suggestions, book recommendations, oh wait, better enrol on NCT, find a hypnobirthing course, find a pregnancy yoga class, read this, no read that...is your head spinning?
There has been a noticeable shift in birth preparation. Women seem to think that they have to do something to give birth. Get informed, get aligned, breathe in a certain way, like they're taking a test they need to pass. Everyone seems to have forgotten that birth is a natural process, an absolute right of passage, as natural for the body as going to the loo, it is a bodily urge to release your baby and bring them into the world. You don't have to do anything.
Women sadly though, are part of a system. A system that doesn't always support the natural process of birth unfolding in it's own time, in it's own way. A system that has differing policies and protocols and timelines and statistics and this all takes a woman away from herself. Other people are telling her what is going on with her body almost straight away. I've heard of so many women absolutely sure of their conception dates and therefore their due date and the hospital gives them a completely different date at their scan and they immediately feel confused, disorientated within their own body. They start questioning themselves. It takes them away from the trust they can have in their body. A trust where they can tune in and listen. Where they can find strength and feel safe.
This is where the birth preparation does come in...to allay fears and worries and undo all the misinformation and misrepresentation surrounding birth. This is why we need to work at it because we have bred a world of fear. There is so much fear that birth is changing. Birth is becoming harder, more traumatic and then there are more negative than positive stories being shared around. We need to address women's fears, we need to get back to safety. One worry of many women is how they will react to the pain and will they be screaming in unimaginable agony like they've seen in films? I've supported many births as a doula and noone has ever screamed...roared, moaned, vocalised, yes but not screamed. Screaming comes from the movies but also not knowing what to do with the intense feelings of birth and being scared. Fear brings adrenaline, adrenaline inhibits the natural pain relievers in the body, your endorphins and so brings more pain. With the right comfort measures and support, your body can relax into it. It might be big, so big, but it's you. Your amazing body doing it's thing. It is a healthy pain. You are not sick. You are not a patient. You are an amazing birthing mama. But because of the Media, and programmes like One Born Every Minute, showing birth to be scary, there is a lot to undo. Hypnobirthing is on the rise because women do need something outside of themselves to birth without fear because modern society is not supporting women to believe in themselves.
So how do women start believing in themselves? Very simply, it can come down to one thing, your breath.
If you know that simply by breathing in a deep and focused way, you can calm your nervous system, relax your body and soothe your mind then you can get back in touch with yourself.
Can you remember a time when you really knew yourself, knew what you wanted, listened to yourself? Trusted yourself? Went by your gut feeling, your heart and not your head? I think most of us can. It may be a really long time ago, maybe as far back as when you were a girl but there is likely to be a time before everyone else's opinion mattered more than your own. A time when you could make decisions easily because you knew what you wanted. Decisions can be hard now because there is so much choice and so much noise. The best way to know what's right for you is to listen to your body. Our body always knows what's best and will tell us. You know those feelings when something doesn't feel quite right...and during pregnancy you are at your most sensitive and intuitive time. If you are listening, your body will communicate to you. However these days women are so in their heads with busyness and feeling overwhelmed, they're not as connected, they can't hear what their body has to offer.
The best way to understand what you need is to reconnect. Get into your body and out of your head as much as you can. Birth is up to your body, your mind just needs to get out of the way. Meditation, mindfulness, breathing, yoga, walking, swimming, journalling, relaxing music, all these things can help you stay more grounded and out of the giant thought cloud in your brain. It can also bring a presence and a trust like nothing else. If you trust yourself, your body and know you have choices, that's all you really need to know.
Doula love x