Five Things I Learned From My First Birth
It is getting close to the anniversary of the birth of my first child. As I think about his birth I think of all the lessons I learned that changed my life and shape the way I approach childbirth, mothering, and teaching birth classes.
~I am so lucky!~
The first thing I thought after I was able to have him without medication for pain was how lucky I was. I really felt blessed that things had gone such a way that I could "do it" that way. I think there is this perception out there that natural birth mamas think they are better or look down on epidural mamas. I didn't feel that way at all. I just felt blessed that I felt I could handle it and that so many things feel into place that made that happen. I realized how small I had been in the process.
~The people who surround you make a huge difference in your birth.~
This kind of plays into the luck thing because I had my son in a hospital. The midwife on staff was one I had never met before, as was the L&D nurse. The nurse hardly said a word and the midwife was so gentle and calm and honored most of my wishes. I was so grateful to have, through the luck of the draw, pulled her straw. I could have had a totally different birth experience with a different hospital staff. As it turned out I pushed for four hours solid. I talk to so many women who are only "allowed" to push for two hours and in a poor position at that. I am so grateful for that midwife who helped me move and change position when I was too tired to do it on my own and who gave me time to push like I needed.
~A well trained husband is great, but a husband who trusts birth is imperative. ~
This is funny because I teach partners in birth classes so many different comfort techniques and my husband almost always went to class grudgingly and didn't use any comfort techniques on me. That being said, he was so important simply because he never seemed to fear birth, fear for me, or fear any part of the process. He is a person (and a chiropractor and a son of a chiropractor) who truly believes that the body is amazing and capable. That to me, and his calm presence, was more important than any back rub.
~Let a woman birth instinctively.~
I think this is kind of tricky because I totally needed some outside guidance with my first birth, partly because I was so tired after days of labor that I literally lacked the brain power to employ all my "techniques" that I had learned in class. So, I think the first time mom can totally benefit from good and kind birth advice. That being said, I wish that I had not been given one instruction in particular.
I was birthing in a hospital. When I got there I was dilated to an eight and I got in a tub to relax. It felt FANTASTIC. I actually thought my labor had stopped. Then I felt pushy (no noticeable transition because of the tub) and I was forced to get out of the tub. My husband, the midwife and the L&D nurse literally pulled me out and took me to the birth bed. I really wanted to stay in the tub. I felt great there and I really think that I might of pushed for less time had I been "allowed" to stay.
I chose to birth outside of the hospital for my next two children because I didn't want to have to do something that felt wrong just because of "policy".
~I can do anything~
I had never been athletic. I had never exercised on any regular basis. I never thought much about what my body could or couldn't do. I am uncoordinated and trip constantly or run into things. But after giving birth (and it was kind of a marathon birth at that) I felt so capable! I ran my first race, a little 5K when my son was eight months old. It was hard for me and my time was not that impressive. But when it got tough I just told myself, "You pushed for four hours and had and 8 lb 6 oz baby, you can run for half an hour!"
That feeling is what I wish every women could know. We all deserve to witness the divinity within us that is manifest by a beautiful birth.