Belly Up

* bellies * birth * babies * breastfeeding *

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Magical Birth in 3 Easy Steps

Don't you wish you could just say
abracadabra and have a magical birth?
The Magical Birth, you know the one where mom feels empowered and labor doesn't hurt much and labor doesn't last long?  Unfortunately there is no simple equation to work out that if applied then a great birth -heck maybe even an orgasmic birth, will pop out.  Don't get me wrong,  using the right inputs will go a long way to creating the desired output  (though I've yet to witness the orgasmic birth thing); but the kind of magical birth I just described is not what I am talking about in this post.

The kind of magical birth I am talking about takes place in hospitals, homes, cars, birth centers and *gasp* ORs and may or may not include pain medication.  These magical births are births where a woman feels satisfied, confident in herself and stronger in her relationships and perhaps most of all respected.  They are not perfect births or even easy births but they are usually informed births.  They may also look different for everyone, because you know... different strokes for different folks... but I can think of a few common denominators in what I would call a Magical Birth.

1.  Mom is surrounded by encouraging people that support her choices and do not create negativity.
2.  Reality matches expectations
3.  Dumb Luck 

Number #1 sounds simple enough, yet I have attend more births than I can count on two hands and  feet where couples chose to have someone at their birth that was none of those things.  Sometimes this is the careprovider, sometimes it is relative or friend.  I call this friendly fire because in most cases this is a person is someone they have hired or is someone they like.  Friendly Fire may be the OB who constantly makes comments about baby being big. Obviously not encouraging (moms generally get worried when someone starts talking about something huge coming out of their vagina).  Friendly Fire can also be the relative that tells stories about their best friend's cousin's sister's child who had some horrible event happen in labor and she wants to relay that experience to you in all its gory detail except she can't remember all the gory details, because she never really knew them.  Either way, not encouraging (and while most relatives are awesome, that example is mild compared to some of the relative issues I have seen through the years).  Research continually shows that even when a birth strays far from the original plan, those that are surrounded by people who are encouraging and respectful, will rate their birth experience well.

That leads us to the next component of a Magical Birth: Expectations and Reality colliding on the D-day.  This is where planning comes in handy as it is easy to learn what to expect at any given birth place.  C-section rates can be checked out, couples can find out from their careprovider what routine interventions to expect and which ones can be declined. While no one can know how labor will feel or progress or when the waters will rupture or any of that stuff, a couple can read up on labor and learn about the varying ways labor progresses.  It really isn't that much different than the rest of life.  We don't go to Pizza Hut and expect to order Pad Thai; if you want Pad Thai, go to a Thai restaurant. If you want a certain type of birth. choose a hospital that routinely offers that option and as much as possible know what to expect and don't expect things that are probably not going to happen

The Serenity Prayer sums up these birthing
 rules: Control what you can, accept the things
you can't and be informed so that in labor
you will know which is which. 
Ok. Dumb luck.  I don't really believe in luck but there are things that are just out of our control and those factors are sometimes the things that can leave us feeling warm and fuzzy or that leave us cold and annoyed.  We can't control the hospital staff that comes in and out of a room.  You can get a bad nurse at a great hospital (though let me say that if you pick a great hospital the odds of having a great nurse go up significantly).  You can't control if labor will happen in the day or night or if the anesthesiologist will be tied up in the OR dealing with a triplet birth and thus you have to wait 3 hours for an epidural or if someone heats up their smelly lunch in the hall outside your room or if your sister posts on facebook that you are in labor before you have a chance to alert people yourself.   When these little things go your way, that's dumb luck and sometimes you don't even notice the dumb luck until you get bad luck.  So what happens when you get bad luck?  It goes back to the first step; if a couple is respected and encouraged during the times when things are not perfect, they will probably still feel the magic. 

So there you have it, a Magical Birth in three easy steps.  Surround yourself with encouragement, have realistic expectations and consider packing that lucky rabbits foot. (And maybe just mention to your sister not to post anything about your labor on her facebook page without your permission.)