Today, while reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, I had a revelation of sorts. I was reading the first half, the half that contains all the juicy birthing stories, and I saw a similarity in all the births.
Most all the birthing women were told that birth is normal, simple, a profound rite of passage, exhilarating, and empowering. They were not raised listening to horror stories of births gone wrong. They were raised with the idea to trust their bodies, instincts… and the women in their lives BELIEVED in them, in birth.
There was no paralyzing fear, maybe a bit of anxiety wondering what it would be like, but at the same time an expectation of good things to come.
My Mom’s Magical Birthing Stories
After reading a few of these birthing stories I realized that I was blessed. My mother was the voice that shaped my ideas and perceptions about birth. She told me her three birth stories while I grew up and learned what birth was.
Jared’s Birthing Story
She told me of my eldest brother, Jared’s, birth. How she read about the Leboyer method and decided that’s what she wanted to do. It just made sense to her that a peaceful, natural childbirth was the way to go.
Jared was born with dimmed lights, low voices and he didn’t cry after he was pushed out. He looked around studying everything, in awe when he was born (or so legend has it). I learned a few things – natural childbirth was peaceful and that I can make decisions on how I want to birth.
Brett’s Birthing Story
My other brother, Brett, when my mom was in labor with him she had the darndest time getting childcare for Jared. She told me how she walked around outside of the hospital with Jared (18 months old), back and forth coping with contractions, just waiting for a family member to arrive to take Jared.
I remember her saying that it really was a good way to cope – walking, waiting with Jared, just going on with her life.
Also, Brett was born on Mother’s Day. What a wonderful gift he was for my mom!
From this story I learned that birth isn’t dramatic – it’s exciting and full of anticipation, but it isn’t something to get your panties in a wad over. My mom showed me how to stay in the moment and how distractions are an excellent ways to cope.
My, Lindsey’s, Birthing Story
For my birth, the grand finale (because that’s really how my mom portrayed it to me), everybody was there – my aunt, grandmother, father, and my two brothers.
I think I remember my mom telling me that it was hot outside (I was born in July) and that my mom made an apple pie that evening.
The whole crew went to the hospital at night when my mom went into labor. My brothers saw me be born, as well as my grandma and aunt.
My mom was so ecstatic to find out that I was a girl after having two boys. My oldest brother, although I hear conflicting reports on this, cut my cord. He was five years old.
My Family’s Birthing Stories
These were the stories, give or take, that I was told growing up. I never heard birth horror stories. Ever.
Atleast not until I was an adult.
I was always fascinating with pregnancies, and birth – but never saw a baby be born until I was 25.
Every birthday while growing up, our birth stories were told, a little different each time of course. I LOVED hearing my story.
My mother never said anything bad, but painted an amazing picture of birth, how natural birth is amazing and normal.
I am thankful for her magical stories she shared in my ear all these years. And I still like to hear the stories.
My Own Birthing Story
When I found out I was pregnant I had a little “oh crap” moment and realized I have to push out a baby, but honestly, I wasn’t afraid*. If anything I was really looking forward to it, “bring it on!”, I said!
I attribute my fearlessness to my mother. She taught me, through her magical birth stories, to not fear but welcome childbirth.
I knew to research my options and to trust the natural flow of birth in my body because of her stories. She is the one that taught me to be interested in birth, and many years later that interest led me to become a doula and now a childbirth educator.
Tell Your Birthing Stories
I share this post with you for a few reasons.
- When you share your child’s birth story make it magical. Shape your child’s perception of birth like my mother shaped mine.
- Second, for the sake of those women who weren’t raised listening to magical birth stories, don’t share horror birth stories to pregnant women. Ever! (If you want to share information you think she needs to know, make it factual but don’t freak her out. Share information in a way that leaves her feeling empowered, not shaking in her boots! She’s probably already a little wary and what she really needs is a good, birth story (like those in Ina May’s book)).
- Third, as a woman, make a point to surround yourselves by women who have had positive, natural childbirths. Listen to stories and catch hold of their passion. Share these stories with other women. Let the positive stories outnumber and eventually replace the negative.
- Forth, when a women tells you she wants to have a natural childbirth tell her she can do it. Tell her you KNOW she can do it. Be her cheerleader! When a women wants to do something and has the support of her friends and family she will begin to believe she can do it.
Childbirth is natural, normal, exhilarating, and pleasureful. My mother told me so.
*When I was 35 or so weeks pregnant I cried at a prenatal appointment. I had a hard time articulating why exactly I was crying but I really think I was scared about the transformation – the death of a maiden and birth of a mother. My midwife sang a song to me… I have no idea what song it was but it made me feel better.