I listened to the podcast The Birth Hour, on my way home from work the other day, and the mom was talking about her home birth and all the work she did to prepare for it.
At the end something she said really struck a cord in me. She described when she was asked about her birth experience, she would tell them that it was fast and there weren’t too many complications and they would say she was “lucky” and it must have been “easy.”
After a while she started to feel dis-empowered around her birth and that she hadn’t done all the work to really prepare for it. So she stopped telling people about her birth.
This really hit home for me because I feel the same way about my birth.
I did not have a home birth but I birthed at a birthing center. I stayed home as long as possible and I was only at the center for about 3 hours before my daughter was born. Everything was really smooth, a good length from beginning to end, there were no medical interventions and technically there were no complications with the birth.
There were complications at the end, with my daughter not breathing because the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around her neck and she needed to be resuscitated and we did end up going to the hospital to make sure she was okay. But all in all the actual labor and birth portion was smooth and uneventful.
Even though I can’t really remember people saying I was lucky or I wish I had a birth like that, there were times when people asked about my pregnancy or birth, it did feel like I was almost “out shining them” if they didn’t have a pregnancy or birth like mine.
So I stopped telling my birth experience to most people and felt ashamed, if I didn’t go into the problem areas that I had.
I’m really glad that this mom brought up her feelings around this, because I could tell she had a hard time trying to explain why she had the feelings she did, because it’s such a tender topic.
So many of us, do really prepare, do research, take care of our bodies and eat healthy and really dig deep to strive for the pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences that we want and still it may not happen for us, for so many reasons that are out of our control.
But for the vast majority of us, we are not as prepared as we can be. Not because of lack of trying, but for lack of knowledge.
We are bombarded by images, videos, stories of birth that are fear based and do not empower moms.
We are told “that’s normal”, “you’re pregnant” or “well you just had a baby.” As if what we are experiencing can just be waved away and we have to live with it.
This sets us up to believe that there is nothing to be done to really prepare for pregnancy, birth and postpartum other than having our routine prenatal visits, going to a birthing class and having our 1 postpartum visit.
So really, we are left to our own devices to know what to do, we have little support along the way.
I hear too many times, “I wish I’d known…”
Just the knowing part can help empower moms to question what really is normal or if there is anything more than can be done. Or feeling comfortable with the birth experience they had without questioning, comparing or regretting.
So as my take away, I really want you to understand that no matter how you birthed, you shouldn’t feel ashamed, you should still feel empowered. But know that those who may have had a “smoother” sounding experience than you may not feel they are lucky. And those who may have had medical interventions or a “harder” birth may feel they were absolutely necessary or welcomed. So I feel the best thing to do is to listen and embrace and hold space for any mom who is daring enough to share her story, to honor the powerful mom she is.
And for those who may want a different birth experience or may want to work towards a different birth experience or postpartum recovery, there are people out there to help, all you need to do is ask.