Every birth story is different. Expecting mothers choose their own paths to make their birthing experience what they hope it will be. Fellow BabySteals fan and doula, Beth MacKenzie, shares her tips on empowering yourself no matter what type of labor you choose.
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Tonight, I sat with eight couples and discussed childbirth preparation plans. The couples in my HypnoBirthing® class are all preparing for their upcoming birthsand we discussed all of the options that they have ahead of them — decisions to be made about where to birth, care providers, cord pulsation, skin to skin contact, breastfeeding and placenta encapsulation. The expectant parents all had so many questions and I guided them towards research so that they can decide what feels right for them and their babies.
As a mama of five, I have amazing and unexpected birth stories of my own — experiences that made me pursue becoming a doula, aware that so many couples don’t always approach birth as prepared as they may think they are, as my husband and I weren’t the first time.
After the birth of my third daughter, I quickly realized that I was unlikely to have the birth experience I wanted with the care provider I had previously used, and vowed with my next child it would be different. As soon as I found out I was pregnant with baby number four, I phoned around and booked an appointment with a midwife, and my husband and I started to plan and prepare for a homebirth.
My midwives were amazing — respectful and kind, never rushing me through appointments and we discussed potential procedures and tests in great detail, and they were supportive of the decisions I made. In the end though, at 39 weeks the midwives were unable to support a homebirth because of complications that came up in the last few weeks of my pregnancy and our homebirth plans moved to a hospital birth, still to be attended by my midwives.
After a rough start, my labour quickly became complicated, and my care transferred to an OB. Thankfully, the OB on call respected my desire for a vaginal birth and worked with me. In the end, my intervention free home birth ended up as an induced, vacuum-assisted hospital birth, almost the opposite of what I set out to have. Nine months of careful planning quickly pushed aside, all of which I didn’t give a second thought to as I reached down to receive my baby, bring her to my chest and breastfed her, amazed and in awe of her.
Surprisingly, I regard this as my best birth experience, because although very little went according to plan. I had carefully chosen my care providers, my midwives were patient, supportive and respectful, and I understood every intervention that took place, and why it happened and consented to it.
This is something I try to convey to the parents in my class. I explain that they will always remember how they felt birthing their babies. They will remember if they felt ignored, they will remember feeling pushed or lied to. They will be disappointed to find out that they have had additional options to available to them, but never knew that they had more choices.
My best advice as a doula, childbirth educator, and fellow mama is your birth experiences and memories belong to you, and your babies and you need to make the decisions that are best for you. You need to be comfortable with your care providers, and where you are birthing. You need to know you made informed decisions that are right for you and your circumstances. Be sure to ask questions until you understand what will/may happen and why. Speak up if you’re uncomfortable with any procedure. Seek out support and trust yourself to make important decisions. Be patient. Labour is not a race. Your body may need time, listen to your body and trust that it knows how to labour and birth. You will likely be rewarded with the birth you planned and prepared for, and if not and you need to make new plans and decisions you will take comfort knowing that you had a voice in the experience, and know that the birth wasn’t something that happened to you, but rather, as you carry the memory around throughout your life, you’ll carry it as an inspiring memory.
Beth MacKenzie, CD(DONA), HBCE @HypnoBirthBethM
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Steal Network or its employees.