Mother Knows Best
Follow your body's cues through childbirth.
By Judith A. Lothian, RN, PHD, LCCE, FACCE
Your body has sheltered and nurtured your baby throughout your pregnancy quite naturally. Birth happens this way, too.
But why bother to experience birth? Why not feel as little of labor as possible? We hear a great deal about the pain of childbirth but very little about the joy and pleasure of experiencing contractions, bearing down as your baby pushes into the world and feeling in harmony with the rhythms of your body as it does the incredible work of birth. Women who are able to labor and give birth while relaxed and confident, and with loving support, are able to tap into their inner strength and endure. The pain that is a natural part of childbirth becomes manageable. Experiencing labor and childbirth, rather than shutting them out, allows you to feel joy intermingling with pain and then delight in your incredible accomplishment. You will be forever changed!
When a woman gives birth, surrounded by family and friends who believe that birth will happen naturally, she is aware on an intuitive level of her ability to give birth. She instinctively responds to each contraction, finding comfort by rocking, walking and moaning. The support and encouragement she receives enhance her confidence.
In many of today’s hospital environments, it’s sometimes difficult to trust the normal, natural process of birth and stay confident as labor progresses. Fetal monitors, intravenous lines, restrictions on your positioning and movement, and the flurry of nurses and doctors in and out of your room certainly give the impression that birth is not going to happen simply or easily. Calm, capable and constant labor support can help you transcend the noise, machines and unfamiliar environment. And having the freedom to move and find comfort in a variety of ways is key to managing increasingly strong contractions.
Many hospitals now encourage you to walk around during labor, use showers and birth balls, eat, drink and wear your own clothes. Of course, it’s easier to feel comfortable and safe in a familiar place, so you may choose to give birth in an out-of-hospital birth center or at home. This option is safe if you are healthy, have received prenatal care and are attended by a skilled midwife or physician. You should always have a plan for hospital backup if that becomes necessary.
Giving birth is a not-to-be-missed experience. Savor the rest of your pregnancy, look forward to meeting your baby and trust that your body will do exactly what it was designed so well to do. Like countless generations of women before you, you can give birth with confidence, joy and deep satisfaction.