March is almost over… it’s been a long and short month at the same time. Lots of birthy stuff went on, and I wanted to note some really cool things that I either learned or was reminded of or just got plain old proof about. Sharing them here, whether you are mama or midwife or just plain curious about what you can learn about birth from being “in” it! So, here goes a few things that came my way this month:
When a woman trusts her body, all else pales in comparison.
Yeah, this goes without saying. But in the realm of homebirth, I get to witness this firsthand. Her trust in her body doesn’t mean that things work out perfectly; it means that she hears what her body is saying, what her baby is saying and does not question it. When a woman is in tune this way, it makes any “monitoring” I could possibly do pretty useless. And I am happy for it. When a woman really trusts her body, birth ebbs and flows the way it should without need for alarm or concern over how “long” things are taking. Dilation and that sort of thing become irrelevant, becomes the mama knows it will take as long as it takes for her body to open and birth her baby. When a woman has such trust in her body, I can sit back and watch her follow her own intuition. It is so clear that she KNOWS better than anyone, that she is able to follow exactly where she is leading herself. My job is to be whatever she needs, or just watch. Call me lazy, but I like to just watch.
Babies really do have their own plan.
One babe this month came really early. One came really late. I don’t know the reasons, necessarily, but we have to remember that these babies know what they are doing. A younger soul does not mean an inferior soul by any stretch. I witnessed the most incredible things done by babies this month-from initiating labor in an almost funny circumstance to having the most incredible, Divine timing that, without, could have been really serious. And yet another born in his amniotic sac; the most auspicious of signs. Just who are we to think we know anything at all? If anybody does, the babies do. Choosing their mamas and dads, and shaping and molding their births to be born JUST the way they want to.
Pushing is overrated.
Maybe after saying that the body will open up, we should let mamas know that their bodies will gently nudge the baby down and out (or in some cases, more forcefully “nudge” the baby down and out!). I’d love to retire the word “pushing” from birth vocabulary. Honestly, I didn’t believe it for so long. But now I do believe that nothing needs to be forced to “push” the baby out. If there’s not an urge, then wait for one. Being completely open (dilated) does not mean that it is “time to push”! And pushing happens gradually sometimes. It takes a while for the baby to get just the right flexion of the head, the mama’s tissues stretch and then rest. The mama and baby work together in this most beautiful dance to guide the baby out. It is really like a dance. And on the practical side, the most positive way to allow the tissues to stretch, and for baby’s head to mold. Often, the opening phase of labor just melts into this part. Gently, gradually.
It’s about having patience.
See, outside of the birth world, I don’t think I have much patience at all. And I admit, I can be tempted to think of all the ways to speed up a labor too when I’m exhausted and needing to nurse my own baby and miss my kids, etc. I realize that even at homebirths, there are a lot of “natural tools” used to speed things up. And I realize how I am really against all that. I have my collection of stuff too–some herbs, homeopathics, essential oils, etc. I know these things are available and that if I use them it must be judiciously. But for the first time, I saw how interventive these things can be, even with good intentions. Because in using them, you might realize that really, you’re trying to move things along. (And this goes for mamas too, in their own labors! It’s hard to be patient.) 2 of the births I attended would most definitely have been “augmented” by lots of others–and I’m not “bragging” from a place of me being a “better” birth attendant–there’s no proof of that at all, and some could argue I should have helped move things along for one reason or another. But I could not shake the fact that by using some of these tools (the most severe which could have been breaking the waters) I was disrupting the Divine flow. I could not get out of my head how altering the course of this baby’s entrance could be pricey–I pictured these babes having this knowing, this precise array of movements through the pelvis that I might be disrupting with any one of my “harmless” ideas. Sure, there are and will be times when a baby may need to get out faster than the process allows. But that’s rare. In the meantime, let’s leave it alone. Ask yourself if you are trying to fix something that isn’t broken, or wanting more progress because you are bored or tired. It’s a hard one, for sure. But being present at births this month has driven home that it is worth it to let labor flow as it needs to.
Mamas can be empowered; even if birth doesn’t turn out the way they thought it would.
Very many lessons this month in surrendering and letting go. Women make their own path to empowerment; I am mirror, I am witness and nothing more. It’s not my thing, other than being there with them to hold the space that empowerment brings. I adore these women; and this month these mamas floored me with their determination and dedication to making their own choices. Some of these choices were really hard, and went against everything they thought would happen. But, in the face of it all, these women stood up and took responsibility. I am humbled and honored to see these mamas embrace and understand their power. And in addition, respect that of the babies they bring into this world. Teaching me once again that we do not know what we will get in birth. We trust our bodies to tell us what we need to know, and we know that birth is to respected; not feared or even blindly trusted, but respected. We honor ourselves and our bodies in the processes of pregnancy and birth. And we choose our power over everything else.