A couple of months ago I was insensed at a pretty negative article in the Irish Independent about what to expect in birth. (I'm not going to link to it because I'm not spreading the negativity!!)
In fairness to the editor, I asked could I write something more positive and she was very happy to publish it.
So here it is - enjoy!
10 Amazingly Positive things about childbirth no one ever talks about!
No you can’t believe all you hear in the movies (‘Look Who’s Talking’ I think it was!). A woman’s body is perfectly engineered for birthing and so is baby’s. Firstly, the hormone relaxin softens both mum’s and baby’s joints and ligaments (including the pelvic joints) making everything pliable, movable and accommodating. Even baby’s shoulder blades and collar bone become smaller in span to allow for birth. Then the fontanelles in baby’s skull allow for the overlapping of the bony plates giving baby that beautiful cone shaped head and guess what, the circumference is then nothing near the size of a melon. And now for that hole the size of a grape. The perineum or the ‘final frontier’ is super stretchy but it needs time to ‘unfold’ which is why forced pushing to achieve birth isn’t recommended. Allowing baby’s head to gently ‘knead’ the perineum open in its own time usually results in a perfectly in-tact perineum after birth.
If we look at the body rationally, and accept that the birthing muscles are no different to any other muscles in our body, then there is no reason for them to be in pain when they are exerted. We’re not in pain when we’re gardening, playing sport, practicing yoga or any other situation where we’re using our muscles. We might however feel a bit stiff and tender a day or two after! Childbirth is certainly hard work, a physical challenge and involves sensations of pressure, fullness, tightening but not always pain. Pain is usually brought about by fear and the resulting tension it creates in the body. And don’t forget the lovely endorphins our body produces. Nature’s own morphine - in fact 200 times stronger then morphine produced right there in your own body. And don’t be afraid of the contractions, as birthing guru Ina May Gaskin says; “Your rushes (contractions) cannot be stronger then you, because they are you”.
There’s nothing that even compares to that feeling of giving birth to your baby. That complete euphoria. It’s there whether you have a caesarian section or a drug free natural birth - a complete rush and a total sense of accomplishment and pride. You’ll never experience anything else like it! (Until the next baby!)
When a mother gives birth to her first baby its as if a trap-door of emotion is opened within her. Being a mother for the first time is an intense, mind-blowing emotional experience. Lots of Mum’s and Dads find a part of themselves they never knew was there when they become a parent.
When you are relaxed about birth, your body relaxes and stays soft and open to the whole process of changes which take place inside. Stressing out and being afraid tenses the body and causes a conflict of processes. Adrenaline make the body want to hold off birthing until a safer time. It also causes blood circulation to divert away from the uterus, and baby, and head for the defense organs and limbs. The best thing you can do is lie back and relax and trust in the amazing process of birth.
There’s nothing to bring a couple closer then childbirth. Though the birthing partner may feel like ‘a spare’ and like they’re contributing nothing at all - just being there and whispering little messages of support to their beloved is perhaps the most important and effective third party contribution to birth. Once the baby is out they’ll look at you in awe of the goddess you truly are!
Baby’s position is half the battle. If you get baby into the optimal position for birth before the head engages you’ve half the work done. Always check with your midwife/consultant what position you’re baby is in at each visit from 30 weeks on - not just the head, but where is baby’s spine. The perfect position is head engaged into the pelvis, with baby nestled into your left side, looking over at your right hip. This is known as LOA or Left Occiput Anterior. Yoga, swimming, gentle lunges and avoiding reclined seats and bucket seats in cars can really help achieve this position.
Stay at home as long as possible - that way you can relax and feel safe and secure. Going in to hospital too early leaves you more likely to be induced or have medical intervention. Be active - move around, work with your body. Help baby make that journey through the birth path with your movement. Use gravity - giving birth lying on your back is absolutely the toughest way. Gravity will help hugely so give birth on all fours, on your knees or best of all squatting.
Yes they come out facing your bum for a reason - another nod to nature’s amazing design of the birthing body. On the way down the birth canal, the movement of the contractions expels amniotic fluid from baby’s lungs allowing them to be ready for breathing. Then on the way out, baby takes a gulp of mum’s bacteria found lying in and around the perineum. This bacteria kickstarts baby’s entire digestive system by populating the gut with flora or good bacteria. Once the head emerges, it’s the air hitting the baby’s face which allows the breathing reflex to kick in - that’s how babies can be born safely under water.
Yes that’s all. If you’re in the last weeks of pregnancy, stand in front of the mirror and look at where you reckon the head is and where the exit doors are. Its really not that far. You can totally do this!
Here's a link to the piece in the Irish Independent