Reflecting on the past prepares me for the future

May 10, 2008 § Leave a comment

My last post made me think more about the need to reflect on labor. In the current mainstream birthing culture there is the desire to paint over labor with broad strokes of “well, at least you had a healthy baby” and while that’s every mother’s concern I don’t think this thinking is valuable to the mother. The more well adjusted women are in their transition to motherhood, the more seamless the bond with mom and baby. It’s amazing how much labor can affect a woman, even way past their full-time mothering years. This stays with us. And I get the feeling it can haunt us. It can also give us strength- that feeling that once you’ve given birth in a supportive environment without intervention you can do anything!

I’m writing another post on the postpartum doula that we’re hiring for a couple of weeks after the baby is born. This is going to be really needed. While some postpartum doulas come and will do light housework this doula will be focused on feeding me, giving me tea, massaging me and talking with me. It sounds like a lot of pampering- a luxury, I would have thought before. But now that I’ve been through a rough postpartum that rushed into the real world too soon, this is going to be absolutely needed. Last time around, it was suggested that all I do was eat.sleep.nurse. And I did. But there was something missing. While I shared my birth story with anyone with ears, until now (with our midwife) have I started to understand some of it.

I’m thinking that it’s just that important to be able to reflect on labor with someone who knows the process who can guide you through understanding what happened and why. One of the reasons I wanted a homebirth was because I didn’t want to fight anyone on anything. I wanted a provider who would be open to a birth plan but who, in actuality, would practice the way I wanted to birth. I didn’t want to have to have a power struggle as I was experiencing one of the most amazing things I’d ever experience. Not then. I wanted to be there for it. I wanted to just close my eyes and let my body do the work. Not my brain. That’s probably why I was so confused about pushing from a semi-reclined position. I couldn’t understand why they would have given me the care I wanted (the one that was normal for this practice) and yet have me in an unfavorable position.

Now I know. And it does make a huge difference in how I’m viewing my upcoming labor. It’s freed me in some ways. It’s getting me more prepared to be open for this labor. For this baby. I feel more at ease.

I had read in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth as well as in her Spiritual Midwifery that the thinking brain can make your labor stall or even stop. There are a number of examples in the birth stories. But, since Ina May (and the other midwives at the Farm) have known about this for years, they can spot it right away and help out. One particular story brings me to tears every time. We read this story when I was pregnant with bilingual baby and it really helped us prepare me for labor. The story told was of this couple. The woman was in labor and she was stalled. Ina May knew them well enough (through prenatals) that she knew that one of them had never said “I love you” to the other. Just as the labor stalled, Ina May suggested that the one that had never said “it” say “it”. As if witnessing a miracle (though they were used to these things happening on the Farm), the laboring woman’s labor started up again and within a very short time her baby was born.

So, the mind is very powerful. But the body is more capable of pushing out a baby. I knew this going into labor the first time so I focused a lot of my preparation on calming the mind and focusing on the body. This time around I’ve got more expectations, maybe even more fears. Luckily, they are being gently cared for by our midwife. I’m glad we’ll be meeting every fortnight soon. This will give us a chance to get more stuff out on the table. Who knows what could be stuck in me…

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