Why is a Positive Birth Experience so Important?
It is common in our culture to hear, “But at least you have a healthy baby.” Or “At least mom and baby are healthy.”
Why is that not enough? Why is it important to have a positive birth experience?
Compare it to your wedding day. You spend months, maybe years, planning your dream wedding. When the big day comes, it’s a disaster. Wrong flowers, food is terrible, the photographer yells at you, your dress doesn’t fit. Your best friend doesn’t show up. So? At least you’re happily married. Who cares about the wedding?
Of course you care! And you’re devastated that your dream wedding had so many flaws.
Why should your birth be any different? You spend months, maybe years, anticipating the birth of your baby. You take childbirth classes, prepare the nursery or baby supplies. You work through your anxiety or fears about birth and you’re finally ready to meet your baby on the other side.
The difference with birth is it’s one of the most vulnerable, intimate moments you will ever experience. You might be crying, screaming, saying words you wouldn’t normally say in public. You might be semi-clothed or naked, without your usual makeup and hair style. In a hospital setting you’re surrounded by strangers watching your baby be born. Not something you would allow in any other setting.
And you’re completely at the mercy of those care providers. Sure, you might have a birth plan and have discussed your wishes with your partner, doula, family, provider. But when it comes down to it, are you really up to fighting while you’re in labor for those things that are important to you? You need to focus, work through contractions, go deep within yourself, pull out all the strength required to cope with the strength of your labor.
Many women choose to continue into their pregnancy with the Gyn they’ve been seeing for years. Until they start discussing their birth plan and realize all that they’ve been researching and hoping for, might not be feasible under this provider’s care. Or their provider might agree to their plan, but can’t guarantee they’ll even be at their birth. Plus there’s the hospital staff who they’ll only meet when they arrive in labor. How can they know that the birth time they’ve been envisioning for months will happen?
There’s no good answer. Unless you’re planning a home birth, you likely won’t know most of the people at your birth. Even at a home birth, unexpected things occur. But at least you know your birth team and trust that they are in agreement with YOUR vision.
So as you progress through your pregnancy, educate yourself on your choices, envision your dream birthing time, discuss it with your support people and your provider. If your provider can’t at least agree to most of your wishes (of course nothing is guaranteed), maybe it’s time to look for a new provider.
“Birth trauma” has become a new catchphrase in the birthing world. But it can be a real thing. Feeling like no one’s listening to you, like you’re just a body delivering a baby, that no one is communicating what is occurring – especially in an emergent situation, procedures and vaginal exams done to you without your knowledge or consent. These can make you come out on the other side of your birth catching your breath, not from euphoria and relief, but from pain and fear.
So when you’re preparing for your birth – choosing your childbirth classes, your doula, your nursery furniture, your photographer – make sure you’re also researching your provider and your birth place.
Your birth is something you will remember for the rest of your life. Ask any woman who’s birthed a baby – from 15-105 years old – and she would love to tell you her birth story.
And as you prepare for your positive birthing time, surround yourself with positive people and comments. Choose not to listen to those who want to tell you horror stories of birth gone awry or warnings that you’re making a bad decision. Protect your bubble of peace. Remember, your baby’s listening!
Everyone wants a healthy baby, but a positive birth experience is priceless.