Posts Tagged ‘natural’

My Body Knew

As part of the Healthy Birth Blog Carnival from Amy Romano’s blog at Science and Sensibility, I wanted to add my two cents about this month’s topic, Lamaze Healthy Birth Practice #5: Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body’s urges to push.

The first time around, I was so excited to see that my hospital was ahead of the game. They even had squat bars as part of the “special birthing beds” so women could labor upright and be in a more natural position to push. I talked to my doctor about it, got his confirmation that this would be fine, and included it in my birth plan. I knew from what I read (and instinctively it fit) that pushing in an upright position was easier on the body because the pelvis is open wider.

On the day of my labor, when the time came to push, the nurse began setting up the bed with stirrups. I reminded her I wanted to use the squat bar. She told me there were no doctors who used the squat bar, mine included. The doctor said, I won’t be able to see anything! I persisted. I insisted. (Women who have been through labor will understand that arguing can be quite difficult at this stage of labor, especially with an overwhelming urge to push.)

Although the staff agreed to let me try, I was allowed to push squatting for 3 contractions before being told, This isn’t working, and put on my back for the remainder of the birth.

(It occurred to me later that the doctor didn’t really need to see, and that if he really did want to see, the entire bed could be raised up 2-3 feet.)

The second time around, I let my midwife and doula know how important it was to me that I be encouraged (not just allowed) to follow my body, especially for pushing. I labored in the tub for about an hour before my water broke, and I quickly felt like bearing down. I went from hands and knees to semi-squatting, then back to hands and knees between contractions. It felt so natural and good to move with my body.

My daughter was born with a nuchal arm (her head and hand/arm together) and there was some tearing, but I didn’t even feel it. I felt only the power of the moment, the roar of a birth goddess within me, following intuitive guidance from the body I had learned to trust.

I learned later that many women, given the freedom to do so (both physical freedom and freedom from self-consciousness) will draw up into a semi-squat naturally, to open more fully to birth their babies.

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to trust my body to birth. And I am blessed to be surrounded by women who trusted me to follow my body. My body knew exactly what to do.


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I’ll admit it- I have a thing for shoes. The man at the store may not know me by name, but he does clear off a bit of counter space as I wander through, occasionally bringing boxes forward, wearing anything except the shoes I wore in. Within each aisle, finding different styles- flats, mules, pumps, casual sandals, sport sandals. I try not to buy more than one of each shoe type on any given visit.

This morning was no different. I found a cute, dressy sandal in navy blue that matched so well with my outfit, I wore them out of the store. I also found several other shoes that looked absolutely adorable. But when I tried them on (in various sizes -just to be sure) I just couldn’t get the right fit. No matter how good they may look on the wall or on my foot, I can’t justify a choice that doesn’t fit my foot.

It’s a lesson long in the making for me, with too many shoes collecting dust in the closet because I won’t wear them if they don’t feel right. Birth choices can be like that too. Women can walk through information, testing this and that, researching, but when it comes down to it: what is a good fit for one woman’s birth, may not fit another.

Opinions and definitions of “natural” vary depending on the individual or entity providing information. When it comes to childbirth, opinions on what is natural can range from medication-free vaginal hospital birth (with or without hospital interventions) to unassisted homebirth. Where does the true definition fall?

It falls within the heart and soul of each expectant mother. Defining what is natural is about defining what belongs to each individual woman: how she views her ideal childbirth experience; where she will feel most safe; how and by whom she will be best supported in her choices. Natural, then, must be based on the innate internal desire of each woman.

The key to this premise is undoubtedly reliant on the ability, opportunity and desire of each woman to search within herself to find the answers to some challenging questions about her beliefs, about her body, about fear. This is part of the process of finding the right fit.

It may seem difficult, trying on so many ideas to find the best match- already it may look easier to just let someone else with “experience” manage the whole thing. The only dilemma: no one else can possibly have experience with your individual expected birth- because it hasn’t happened yet. No one else can possibly know what is right for you in your heart. It cannot be considered “natural” to simply follow someone else’s “rules” for pregnancy and birth, without considering how they correspond into your own desire.

So “natural” is really the connection of your internal truth to your desired birth experience. You do not have to accept another person’s view of what is acceptable, what is ideal, or even what they consider safe. You can choose to follow your own truth. You can take time to explore answers to the questions birth holds for you. You can explore fears and insecurity, question your beliefs, and discover, for yourself, the true definition of natural childbirth: a birth experience fully in line with your most intimate, loving, internal vision.

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