Welcome Guest Blogger, Hanna Kallio of Toward Abundant Life
Birth is one of my favorite topics. I love hearing and reading other women’s birth stories, but I rarely share details about any of our births. I told myself during my recent pregnancy that I would share more this time, but once again, I’ve found myself holding back. Until now. I’m REALLY outspoken about birth in general, so what gives?
Let me start by acknowledging what a personal and varied process birth is. Often when I share my experience, other women sense that I’m judging them if they choose to do things differently. Listen, the last thing we need as moms is more judgement!
We live in a culture that doesn’t understand birth. When you’re pregnant, people come out of the woodwork to tell birth “horror stories”, often about women they don’t even know. Bad news travels fast, while positive birth stories are strangely absent. Even though it’s hard, I want to share my experience to suggest what’s possible.
It’s hard for me to tell my birth stories because when a woman talks about quick, pain free, or peaceful birth, people write her off almost instantly. They make disparaging comments about her anatomy, say she’s “just lucky”, or give some other excuse for why her experience couldn’t possibly apply to anyone else.
But I’ve given birth 5 times, and I’ve had every combination of care on the continuum from a hospital birth with doula support to an unassisted homebirth. What I’ve learned is that how you give birth matters. Who’s in the room matters.
I feel compelled to speak up after 2 different friends recently shared difficulties they had during the pushing phase of their labor. Would you be totally disgusted with me if I told you that I didn’t have a “pushing phase” for 2 of my births? My daughters were both born without any of that type of effort. When we were researching for our first homebirth, we learned that a healthy, fully relaxed woman experiences what’s known as the “fetus ejection reflex”, which means her body births the baby involuntarily. No strain, no fatigue, no fetal trauma. And I’m here to tell you it’s possible.
Before you dismiss my experience, let me say that this type of labor is still work. But you do the work up front, in the form of hard choices. You choose to stare down your fears, educate yourself, and be honest about your needs. You choose the care that actually makes you feel cared for . You choose to reject a cultural story about birth that says you’re a victim who’s in danger, and write your own story.
I always cringe when I hear about a birth that involved painful intervention for the mother. The story usually ends with, “But the baby is safe, so that’s all that matters”. The subtext is that mom sometimes has to take one for the team. I’m living proof that with the right support and a willingness to do the mental and spiritual work of labor, the physical part can be a dream come true.
You matter as a mother. More than that, you matter as a person. Birth is no time to take one for the team.
Because this isn’t just about you. Babies that are born this way are different. People can see it. That’s why it isn’t selfish to insist on your ideal birth experience.
You’re reading this because you’re a mom, or you hope to be one some day. What stories have you been told about birth? What support do you need to write and tell a new story?
About the author: Hannah Kallio helps families ignite their world
changing spark. She blogs at http://towardabundantlife.wordpress.com/