A fellow Hypnobabies instructor recently brought this article to my attention. I read what this woman wrote about her birth experience and then a lot of the comments and it really made me sad.
I'm sad because instead of feeling empowered after her birth she felt like she failed (even though she had a natural birth... what??) I'm also sad to see how many other women felt this way. Clearly she struck a chord with many, many others.
I don't think any woman should feel like a failure after giving birth, whether they are induced, have an epidural, birth their baby by Cesarean-section, have an all-natural birth or any other variation. The important thing is that women (and their partners) feel like THEY are the ones who made the important decisions and did what was right and best for themselves and their babies.
I teach Hypnobabies. (I wrote here about whether it's "realistic". I think that post complements what I have to say here today.) Many women find Hypnobabies because they are scared of the PAIN that almost everyone talks about in our culture (and I do mean everyone - because whether people are all about natural child birth or the epidural they generally agree on one thing - there will be pain! We Hypnobabies folk are a bit rebellious in this regard. We are like the minority of the minority.) But most of these women who find Hypnobabies still want to have a natural child birth for various reasons. When they find stories of empowered births, comfortable births, and even PAIN-FREE births, they want that for themselves - who wouldn't?
Our minds are very powerful. We teach our students that our minds work to create our reality based on our expectations and belief systems. Well guess what? The overriding belief system in our culture is that birth is scary and painful. So Hypnobabies works hard to change these expectations for our couples. There are affirmations EVERY DAY that expectant mamas listen to. We change the language because words like "contractions" and "labor" don't typically have positive connotations in our culture.
But it is a difficult line that we walk. Because although birth can be beautiful, comfortable, and empowering it can also be the opposite. This is not a battle of "right" or "wrong". The truth is that birth is unpredictable and each woman's experience will be unique.
But it is also true that birth does NOT *HAVE TO* be a painful, traumatizing experience (the proof is in every powerful, positive, joyful story of birth that is shared). And it IS WRONG to keep telling women that it WILL BE so for them. No one can tell you what your birth will bring.
The woman in the article felt like a failure. She felt that she had been misled. She thought that she was "prepared". Clearly she wasn't prepared. I'm not saying that is her fault, it is just obvious that is is true. She mentions sexual trauma at the end, almost as an afterthought. I cannot pretend to know what her circumstances were or what she did to overcome whatever her experience was. But I do know that birth is more than a physical experience - it is profoundly emotional and spiritual too. If there are fears or experiences we are holding onto they can have a huge impact on our births.
Being prepared in our culture is difficult. Birth happens behind closed doors. Most girls grow up into women without any direct experience with birth - they haven't seen it, heard it, smelled it, or touched it. We don't know what to expect. And so that hole gets filled with lots of things. Television shows and scary stories from family and friends can fill it up with a lot of negativity and fear. OR we can choose to fill our experiential void with positive, empowered, uplifting stories. We CAN choose.
I'm more convinced all the time that there are two important factors that impact our birth experiences. Preparation is important: to eat well, to be as physically fit as possible, to be knowledgeable about our bodies and the birth process, and also about our present culture and how it impacts birth, and finally but perhaps most importantly to prepare our minds, hearts, and spirits with positive expectations.
But the second factor is equally important. And that is this: once we are in the midst of birthing our babies we must LET. GO. We have prepared. We have done all we can do. And so by letting go of any expectations we have of our completely unique birth, we can embrace what it actually brings us. This is my hope for all mothers everywhere.
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Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.