We invite you to share your thoughts on A Good Birth, or offer your reflections on your own Birth story or the Birth you hope to have one day. We sincerely hope you've experienced A Good Birth!
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last month I celebrated the birth of my daughter, Cora Marie. It was three years ago that my life changed in such unexpected, beautiful, and very humbling ways. Motherhood is the great equalizer. Whether you're a teen or a nearing forty, parenthood is an experience that can bring you to your knees- in exhaustion and exultation. It's miraculous and monotonous and every emotion that can be described. I can now admit, that I was a much better parent before I had children. I knew exactly what needed to be done to birth and raise a healthy, well adjusted, brilliant and well mannered child. I was a Doula. and studying to become a Lamaze Educator. I attended Birthing from Within and Hypnobabies classes. I was planning a homebirth where I would bring my baby into this world in a warm tub by the light of the fireplace. It was going to be perfect. Perfect is not a word that should be used to describe pregnancy and parenting plans. Nothing and noone is perfect. The closest thing to perfection during my birthing time was my team. I had amazing Midwives, Doulas and husband who supported me with love and compassion that still makes me fall deeper in love with him at the thought. These women and my Partner, coupled with my education, is what made a very imperfect event empowering. I developed preeclampsia at nearly 37 weeks and I was required to be hospitalized. I was fortunate in that I had attended many births and knew that flexibility is what can make or break a Mother psychologically. I viewed the hospital health care team as allies and I collaborated on my care plan. I felt empowered because I was informed. I was empowered because I was supported. I made the hospital my home for the days that I labored. I had expected an induction to be binding, painful and terrifying, but the love around me created a safe environment where I never paid mind to the IVs and monitors. Later, upon viewing photos of myself in labor, I was surprised to see that for all intents and purposes I looked like a cascade of interventions, but it was so far from what I felt at the time. My birth was beautiful and fierce. Though it wasn't what I had planned, it was healthy and holistic. I was tended to mind, body and soul. I advocated for myself, and when I exhausted, my husband stood in and protected my space and wishes. My Doula stood by me for the days I labored, my midwives spoke gently to me, and my girlfriends honored the sacred space and made me feel like a goddess. Every woman deserves to feel mighty in their birth- it more easily ushers the ferocity required of Motherhood. I am passionate about childbirth guidance because I feel as though I'm an example of having a good birth in less than ideal circumstances. I didn't just go along for the ride because my path changed- I still steered the wheel with the help of my team. Knowing what one's choices are and how to advocate is essential in our birthing culture. Empowering the Partner to support the Mother is crucial.From my own experiences and the births I have witnessed, I have learned a few things including:
- Find providers you trust. Know their back up providers and be sure that they align with your philosophy.
- Get educated about the entire perinatal period. This includes childbirth and breastfeeding classes.La Leche is an excellent way to immerse yourself in Motherhood while pregnant.
- Prepare for Parenthood. Birth is kinda like a wedding- many of us get wrapped up in the day only to be surprised that we should have had an understanding of the relationship... which will continue for a lifetime.
- Get a Doula. They do not take the place of a Partner, only enhance the experience. To find a Doula,click here.
- Find your Tribe. There is nothing more special than finding other New Mamas to laugh and cry with.
- Own Your Birth. If it causes pain or happiness postpartum, share it, process it and whatever feelings you have, know that it's okay and normal to have your opinions because it was your experience. Click here for resources
Thank you Karissa for this incredibly wise and empowering post!! Indeed, we all deserve to feel mighty, and with insights like yours we can get there. Cheers to you, Annie
My first birth was ok but I'd never call it great. Some parts were ok, some not so much. I didn't feel involved, I didn't feel respected, and once I had pain medication I felt almost like I no longer mattered. I got a healthy baby in the end so I'd count it as ok. My second was fantastic. It was a great birth. I went in looking for a medication free vaginal birth. My midwife, doula, and husband were all very supportive of this. My nurse was great and so supportive of my plans too. She'd just pop in to tell me I was doing great and head back out leaving us to do the work. It's exactly what I wanted. About 38 hours into labor I was exhausted and asked to talk about pain medication so I could rest. The nurse came in and respectfully gave me my options and fully discussed them with me. I chose an epidural. It wasn't the plan but it's what I wanted at the time. Breaking my water and pitocin to speed things up were both offered and I declined. My wishes were respected without question or threats, something I've seen done many times as a doula. My midwife caught my daughter and placed her skin to skin, again exactly what I wanted. I was treated like an educated person that was capable of making decisions for myself, that's all I was asking for and I got it. That's what makes a good birth.
I'm so glad you found your good birth the second time around, Melissa. It can take time, and sometimes a birth or two. I am sure in your work as a doula you help other women find their own good births, too. Take care, and thank you for sharing, Annie
I had my little girl last week-October 29th. Coming from a small town and still living in SC by most social standards I waited a while to have my first child. I am 34 years old. I'm active and healthy but I had still allowed my mother and sister's somewhat traumatic birth stories of Cesareans after hours of labor convince me that I should just resign myself to the same fate. In addition I'm a petite woman and my grandmother had been telling me since I could remember that pregnancy and labor would never be easy on me. I didn't go as far as schedule a Cesarean but I told my doctor that I expected that would be the way it would go. A friend convinced me to watch The Business of Being Born. She had delivered two babies vaginally and naturally in less than 2 hours of pushing total each time. She wanted me to know there were options. I found myself taking it all in and analyzing my mother and sister's experiences and decided mine would be different. Even if a Cesarean was still required for me I wanted to have a positive experience with every stage of labor. I hired a wonderful doula that same weekend. She literally was an essential part of my wonderful experience. She answered questions, all those ridiculous questions you feel you should already know the answer to but still need to ask. She talked to my husband, suggested readings and the day of she did everything from massages to speaking for me when I was too overcome in labor to respond to nurses and doctors. My doctor group was supportive of both my doula and my birth plan. I labored at home assited by my husband, doula, hot showers and an exercise ball until I instinctively knew it was time to make the 10 minute drive to the hospital. Longest drive of my life. Upon arrivng I continued to use the shower, ball and various positions to labor--finally requesting the doctor break my water to get me over the final hurdle. An hour later my girl was born, vaginally and drug-free. She was immediately put on my chest and didn't leave my room or my sight the entire stay. I labored for 15 hours, pushing for two, before she made her entrance. I was euphoric with my daughter's birth. Proud that I had accomplished what other women in my family could not and proud that I defied the idea that size determines a woman's ability to bring her daughter into the world naturally.
Congratulations Dana and what a wonderful story. I hope you and your daughter are enjoying each other. Research actually shows that expecting a good birth (having "high expectations") and having a good birth often go hand in hand -- so fabulous to hear that was the case for you. Take care, Annie