I entered my first birth with doe eyed trust and admiration for my doctors. I trusted that as long as I followed their instructions all would be well. Unfortunately, I joined the ranks of the 1 in 3 mothers who report experiencing a traumatic birth on this day.
This birth left me feeling broken, afraid and was followed by a very challenging year of postpartum depression.
You see, birth is a pivotal day and it changes a woman’s life forever. While you always can change your life, and we are lucky to live in a world with more tools than ever to do so, studies have found that the birth experience is a literal fork in the road.
One study stated “One path can get off to a very good start to motherhood, whereas in case of traumatic labor, the other path can lead them to a very poor start in their relationship with the child and husband, as well as to psychological problems”
What kinds of problems do mothers with traumatic birth experience?
Moms who experience a traumatic birth report feeling out of control, depressed and anxious even months and years after the birth. Some even have post partum stress disorder. If you are feeling shakey in any way after a difficult birth, know you are not alone!
Other studies have found that moms who experience traumatic birth also have a less rewarding experience breastfeeding, have more difficulties in their relationships with their partners and child, and that their babies sometimes go on to have emotional, cognitive and behavior disorders.
Sometimes moms with traumatic births report excessive fatigue, vital exhaustion and a reduction in functional capacity caused by depression following the birth trauma.
You can see that when a mother goes down, the problems cascade and swell. You as a woman are important. As a society, it is time that we recognize the influence of mothers on every aspect of life and make sure that every mother is supported fully in her transition to motherhood.
I don’t say this to scare you or strike fear about birth into your heart. On the contrary, I believe that birth is a true right of passage. Birth is a moment of transformation and evolution as a person and as a mother.
There is much you can do to come through this experience stronger than when you began. More is in your control than you know.
Any time you go through a change like this, you need support, guidance, and inner courage. The truth is, everything you need to have a positive experience with birth is already inside of you. The trick is connecting to it.
You get right with yourself first, then as you navigate the decisions before you, it will be easy to make decisions that align with your vision for your birth.
You may have been told that birth is unpredictable, and so you shouldn’t get your heart set on one type of birth or prepare too much.
I believe the opposite is true. Strength and flexibility may be opposites, but they are opposites that support one another. The stronger you are in your birth vision, and preparation, the more flexibility you will have as your birth unfolds.
You will never regret preparing. You will only regret being too scared to ask for what you want.
In my book Divine Birth I state:
You see that you can create beauty and bring a sense of magic and sacredness into your pregnancy and birthing experience.
You are the leading lady, star of the show and most important person in the room when you are birthing. Here are ways you can tap into your magic to manifest a birth that feels amazing and avoid the birth trauma.
7 ways to craft an amazing birth and avoid birth trauma
1. Know what your priorities are for your birth.
Do you want an epidural the moment you walk into the hospital or are you going completely natural? Do you want immediate skin to skin snuggles and breastfeeding, or do you want your baby to be bathed right away? What about the cord, cut it or let it pulse?
The most important thing for you to do is know where your priorities lie. Knowing what you want is the number one thing you need to do if you want an empowering birth experience.
2. Find a prenatal care provider that is your perfect match.
Find someone who has the same birth priorities you do. If you want a natural birth, find someone who is an expert at helping moms stay true to this desire in the midst of labor. If you want an epidural right away, definitely don’t see the same midwife you would see for a natural birth.
When you find someone who is both qualified and shares your values and priorities you have found someone you can trust. If you need to make decisions during birth, you will know that they are watching out for YOU and can help you make educated and thoughtful decisions instead of pushing their own agenda on you.
If your doctor dismisses your questions during prenatal appointments, makes you wait for an hour for a 15 minute appointment, talks down to you in any way, get a new one.
It is vital to build a circle of support. The most common people that will be a part of birth are a partner, possibly your mother and a doula or good friend.
Each of these people need to know what you expect from them and how they can best support you. Use your voice to set clear expectations and boundaries. If someone is creating drama for you, they are not allowed at our birth.
You especially need to know what you want your partner to do during birth.
Most moms either want their husbands to be either their coach, actively supporting them and guiding them through labor, or a cheerleader helping them remember that they can do this, or a witness, someone who is there to see what happens, take the photos and hold the memories.
While some very rare partners can play all 3 roles, the coach, cheerleader and witness, most will excel in one area and not the others. Hire a doula to fill the other roles to make sure you get everything you want out of this day.
4. Get your body ready and baby in proper position.
Would you run a marathon without doing smaller runs to build up for it first? Probably not. If you ran a marathon without properly training you would collapse and take months to recover. Same thing goes for birth.
Try a gentle exercise routine such as prenatal yoga where you can stretch, strengthen and tone your body while building the mental strength to meet the event ahead.
Also prepare by eating healthy and drinking plenty of uterine toning raspberry tea. Studies have shown that prenatal yoga can decrease labor by up to 2 ½ hours and that women who practice yoga report less than half the pain during childbirth as mothers who don’t.
5. Read lots of birth stories or watch lots of birth videos so you have a good idea of what is normal
Better than binge watching Jane the Virgin, birth stories have everything you need for a night of entertainment and preparation. Grab your favorite ice cream and spend an afternoon (or 107) watching birth videos. You will get an idea of how labor progresses, what kind of support you might want and the vast array of what normal labor looks like. More than anything this will fix firmly in your mind that labor will end and by the end of it, you will have a baby in your arms.
6. Reframe how you think about contractions and pain.
Your brain on birth is so cool. As your labor intensifies, you pump put tons of the love and bonding hormone, oxytocin. Turns out this is a great pain reliever as well! It is not labor that causes the most pain in birth, but your resistance to it.
If you feel afraid, your stress hormones will cancel out all that oxytocin that your body is creating. Learn how to see contractions as your body working hard. Reach contraction is a wave of pressure moving through you with a purpose.
Relax as much as possible with dance, music, deep breathing etc. Your contraction cannot be stronger than you because it is you.
This is the day you see your baby. Think of the most special day of your life, such as when you graduated or got married. Remember how much care you put into that day, how exciting it was? This day will be even more amazing. You will be telling the story of this day for the rest of your life. You will be overwhelmed by how much love you can feel as a mother. You will keep this day in your heart forever.
Labor does not have to be the awful experience we see in tv. Having a second baby was one of the most healing experiences of my
I personally birthed a 10 lb baby at home in my bedroom with the assistance of an incredible midwife and it was the best experience of my life.
Your body is meant to birth your baby. It knows what to do. Get the support you need and trust in the process.
If you are the woman whose large in heart, the mom loves fiercely, is not afraid to go after what she wants.
If you value joy. If you know your love is your greatest gift. If you want her baby to be suspended in a womb of love, birthed in the gentleness of love.
If peace guides your actions.
If you believe in gentle beginnings, and that firm foundations build strong futures, that love reins and is a core part of birth.
You will love my birth Divine Birth: Birth Wisdom and Coloring Pages to Inspire the Pregnant Mother.