During the training that Nicole and I attended in March, one of the most inspiring things we took away was considering the language we use when we speak about birth. As a culture, we have cultivated a respect for doctors and medical professionals for their dedication to education and experience. Along with this respect comes a natural obligation to use the language that is medically accepted, despite not being accurate or even inspiring.
When you think of these, they bring up visions of doctors and hospitals, amongst other things. Labour is a form of hard work, and though birthing women do tend to exert energy I wouldn’t call them “labourers”, likethey’re on a construction site. Contraction is a word that naturally makes you tense up your muscles unconsciously. When you actually think about what “contraction” means- an involuntary cringe without a set beginning or end- it makes your anticipation of it that much more brutal. Who wants to be in fear of their muscles contracting and expanding, without really knowing when it will end? Then there’s “delivery”… as if your baby will be presented to you on your doorstep wrapped in parchment and tied with string. Of course, when a doctor is the one attending your birth, they sometimes like to think that you need to be assisted through your birth with their help, not the other way around, and thus they will deliver your baby to you once they’ve saved you from your strong contractions and prevented you from labouring too hard with all of their tools.
In reality, you birth your baby. Birthing is individual and unpredictable. You feel sensations you’ve never felt before; they come in waves of varying lengths and durations, but they have a gradual flow of beginning.. to middle.. to end. It takes presence of mind to get through such a new feeling, and being afraid of what you will feel only increases the likelihood that you won’t like it. Support during these sensations can be incredibly helpful, especially from someone who understands the feeling and knows how to help you to manage the sensation yourself. When you start experiencing these sensations, you have entered into an incredible time: early birthing. Your body will continue to wave, and the waves will come sooner and last a bit longer together. These waves are the evidence that your body knows how to birth, and your baby is on their way into the world. You will then begin to actively birth, and soon reach transition, the incredible time when your body quiets down after all that sensation, and stores up some last energy before your baby is born. This is when your baby begins to help out a bit more. Your body won’t be able to control when your baby decides it is time; they push their way into the world in a way that isn’t stoppable. It’s a reflex that your baby triggers when the time has come, and then your body responds in an incredible way.
During this time, your care provider should be watching intently, but not interfering, unless it is medically necessary. A birthing mother and her baby have the rights as human beings to birth unassisted, untouched and uninterrupted. Through the entire of your birthing process, this stands true. Sometimes the opportunity will arise when medical intervention is necessary, and in these situations a care provider is a great asset to have around. But in a naturally occurring birth without induction, with a mother who is aware that what her body is doing is natural and amazing, babies tend to be born beautifully into their own mother’s arms …and they definitely aren’t wrapped in paper.
So, when you are imagining the birth you want for yourself and your baby, please consider how the language you surround yourself with affects the environment you birth in. Doctors or midwives, hospital or home, medical intervention or augmention, doulas or other birth supports- you have options to create an environment that promotes a positive birthing process,should you so choose. We encourage you to feel empowered about making decisions that will help you to rock your birth!
Happy Birthing- Erin