let me say a few words, here, as i have been through it twice. once i trusted the system. bad, bad idea. the second time i deeply mistrusted and avoided the system. good idea. your child’s birth is your first and possibly one of the most important decisions you will make for him or her. don’t leave it in anyone else’s hands (i made that mistake with ruth and i deeply regret it). so, let you learn from my mistakes. you only get one shot after all. one shot per child, anyways.
i’ve learned a lot about labor. not just by going through it twice, but by thinking about it (almost obsessively), reflecting on it, and possibly observing the direct consequences of it in both mine and my children’s lives. labor is a lot like life. it’s like life intensified, basically. life distilled down to its bare essence. it is, after all, arguably the most intense moment of your life, second possibly only to the moment of your death and the moment of your own birth. the things that will help you in labor are simply the things that will help you in life. and, believe me, you will need help. because labor is as intense as you may have dared to imagine it. and: you can do it.
first of all, and possibly most importantly of all, as soon as you feel yourself starting to tense up, like you’re starting to lose your grip, like you’re not going to make it, take a deep breath, and hang loose. let go. that’s really the only way you will make it. as soon as you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, muster up everything you’ve got and dive more deeply into the experience, give yourself to it, surrender.
labor, like life, is really all about letting go. you’ll need to let go of a lot of things. you’ll need to let go of control in every sense of that word (this will be good preparation and practice for later years with the child that is about to introduce itself into your life). you can’t control when or how labor starts, how long it will take or exactly when your baby will be born. however, just like in life, there are things you can arm yourself with that can influence the way your labor progresses and how you experience it. first of all, the “hang loose” principle. just, hang loose, man. go. with. the. flow. second, trust. this is key. trust in the perfection of your body as an instrument of evolution to bring new beings into the world safely, perfectly, and without complications or problems. it is a flawless system. you can trust in that. also, trust in yourself to know how best to labor, what positions to assume, what sounds to make, who to let be there and who to throw the hell out of the room, when to push and for how long. third: wonder, and awe at the ferocity and stubbornness with which life claws itself onto this physical plane and doesn’t let go. life, if you will, from its beginnings, has a death-grip on coming into being. and lastly, if you’re like me, profound surprise and deep appreciation and satisfaction at your hidden strength.
and i will tell you the best kept secret from modern day women: natural childbirth is the greatest, most empowering and life-changing occurrence that you have the power to bring into your own life. natural childbirth is our birthright as women and should be guarded with ferocity from anyone who threatens to take it from us in the name of modern medicine or to “protect”us from the “unbearable” pain that we might otherwise experience. believe me, there is no greater rush of adrenaline, joy, achievement, and power than to bring your child into this world under your own power, in your own time. don’t let anyone take that away from you.
because, just like in life, labor is best experienced sober, open-eyed and fully. natural childbirth is the best way to start your new role as a parent, it is the best way for your child to start its life. and you have the power to claim it for yourself.
*note: this blog post is in no way against medical intervention at all costs. i am completely supportive and profoundly thankful for medical intervention *when it is necessary*. i also think that though natural childbirth is optimal for many reasons, births with interventions are just as meaningful beginnings to lives, and can be made more authentic and intimate with effort on the parents parts and cooperation of medical personnel.
there will be more where this blog post came from, i’m sure. i can add details and resources if you like. or i can just shut the hell up. either way…