We’ve reached what I like to call the ‘yoga pants period’ of pregnancy. That’s right, the belly is now so humongous that the only thing that can contain it is a yoga pant. Even my favorite fleece pajama bottoms are not roomy enough to accommodate the watermelon growing out the front of me. And while that’s good because it signals the last, final, absolutely-never-again-having-to-do-this point of pregnancy, it also means that for the next 6-9 weeks I need to walk around in my husbands old tshirts and the same pair of lint-collecting yoga pants, everywhere I go. Good thing I don’t ever have anything to DO. 🙂
Birth Preparations – Part Two September 5, 2008
Someone asked me yesterday what I was going to use as a coping mechanism during the upcoming birth of my son. I should mention that I plan to have a homebirth, with as little intervention by ‘outsiders’ as possible. I would love to have an unassisted birth, and I do think that I could handle it, but I know my family would be more comfortable with someone ‘trained’ attending the birth, and so, I’ve made that decision.
Regardless of where I’m birthing or who will be helping me, I still need a reliable method of getting from beginning to end without a total mental breakdown. I will say that having gone through one birth so recently that it is still fresh in my mind is acting as a sort of motivator. Anyone who hasn’t given birth (and maybe even some people who have) wouldn’t think that being able to vividly recall another birth would be a sense of motivation or calm, but it is. Birth – the actual process whereby I brought my daughter into the world – was not difficult or ‘painful’ at all. Sure it ‘hurt’, but it was a good, productive kind of hurt. It is a different sort of pain than anything else you can experience – it has an element of utility behind it that motivates you to work WITH the pain, instead of against it. At least it did for me. When I was pushing my daughter out, all I could think was ‘it hurts! that means she’s almost here! I need to push more!’
And it is because I can so vividly remember thinking that that I know this time I’ll be even more prepared to let my body do it’s thing. And so, in answer to my friend, I will be using a sort of mindfulness meditation to help me through labour. It is a combination of ideas culled from various different birthing courses and coping techniques, combined with my own ideas about childbirth and healing. Unlike so many coping devices, I have no intention of escaping from the pain. To me, it is a strong motivating force. Trying to ignore it is counter productive. I strongly believe that it was my decision to focus on and work with this pain that made my daughters birth go from zero to ten in a matter of minutes.
I also plan to use herbs and traditional practices to strengthen my labour. I already drink a daily infusion of red raspberry leaves to help tone and strengthen my uterus. Once I get closer to the day of delivery I will also start taking evening primrose to help prepare my body, and when I’m in active labour plan to take blue and black cohosh to help move the contractions along. I believe strongly in the abilities of herbal medicine, and see no reason why THIS time I should submit myself or my babe to anything else.
So, that’s my plan everyone. I have no preconceptions about what the labour will be like (I think my biggest downfall last time), but I do have strong opinions about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to move forward with it. And now, I’m off to hang upside down in an attempt to dislodge my son from my tailbone and to encourage him to flip around.
I’m finding that as the birth of my son draws closer and closer, I’m experiencing a lot of mixed emotions. Not about the arrival of my son – I’m very much looking forward to meeting him (and not being pregnant anymore). But, I’m finding that I’m becoming much more determined and strengthened than I was when I gave birth to my daughter. On the one hand, I’m really trying to recognize that sometimes birth just isn’t predictable, and that even the most careful planing may be pointless. It was certainly the case with my daughter, and my failure to recognize that led to a lot of emotional grief in the days, weeks and months after her birth. However, I’m finding that the more I try to recognize that, the more my mind keeps going back to the idea that birth is a natural process. It may not be predictable, but it is something that women are designed to do.
When I gave birth to my daughter, as hard as it is for me to admit this, I didn’t fully believe that my body was capable. I have been raised in a society that highly values doctors and alopathic medicine, and the ‘passive patient’ model of care. But, the birth of my daughter really helped me to understand that this is such a backwards way of thinking about healing, particularly healing during pregnancy. The book ‘Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth’ really drove the point home for me, when Ina May, a self trained midwife, talking about all of the births she attended in her early years, before any real training, says that birth cannot be seen as something that needs to be treated, as most doctors see it. In fact, if it wasn’t a normal, natural process, how could she, a lay person, have helped so many women safely bring their children into the world? Doctors see birth as a medical emergency which needs immediate management. Obviously, as Ina May so deftly points out, this cannot be the case. No other event which is so highly medically managed can also be so easily UNmanaged. Women can birth their babies at home, by themselves, just as successfully as any doctor in a hospital, nearly every time.
So, there in lies my source of conflict. We are a part of a society that places such value on our ready access to medical care when we need it. But, I’m am starting to see, so very often that that supposed ‘care’ is the source of the problems in the first place. And, while I know that there are some issues which really are best handled by doctors (i.e. REAL medical emergencies caused by problems with a birth), I really do remain unconvinced that the ideal I was striving for with my daughter is not the best option. If anything, the experience that we had during my daughter’s birth has strengthened my conviction that a hands-off approach to birth is the best and safest way. And so, while I had such a difficult time in coping with our highly medicalized birth last time, I just simply cannot prepare myself for the same eventuality this time. It is so far outside my understanding of what is ‘right’, that i just cannot conceptualize having to go through that again.