As I near my due date, my growing anticipation of this unknown adventure is all I can honestly think about! My choice to give birth naturally has been met with many mixed reactions...varying from "Do you KNOW how much its going to hurt? Why would you ever do that to yourself" to "Wow! Good for you, I'm impressed". My personal favorite (of which I have gotten a LOT) is from men who say "Oh just wait, you'll have a change of heart once you're in labor" to which I always want to respond "Oh, because you experienced it?" But of course, I just smile and bite my tongue.
Providing all continues to go well and I stay low-risk, I have decided to have a natural birth at Best Start Birthing Center so that I can make my birth experience my own, and decide what is best for me, my husband, and our baby. I chose this birth center with the initial preference of a water birth, and that is one of the few locations in San Diego that offers it. To be honest, I hadn't really thought too much into the whole birthing experience - I just knew that I wanted a drug free birth.
However, the whole reaction against natural labor has never really sat too well with me...why are people so shocked that I am choosing to have my baby the way my body was created to have a baby? Why are people so shocked that I am going drug free...isn't this what women have been doing for thousands of years??
As I've started to prepare more, I've started reading more books on preparing my body and preparing my mind and I've begun to see why I've had that gut reaction to people's comments. Now, keep in mind this is coming from someone who, yes, has never given birth...I'm sure there are some ladies reading this rolling their eyes and saying "Just wait". I get that I haven't been through it, I do! But I don't want to enter into this experience scared of the pain...I want to enter into this experience with my mind completely open to allowing my body and my baby to take their natural course into entering the world!
Ina May makes a really great point in her book "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" about how the body reacts to fear - it's fight, flight, or freeze. Well, fight and flight aren't options in the birthing process so then it goes to the last resort...freeze. When that happens, the blood in your body goes to the parts of the body that are necessary for survival (which is not the utuerus in case you were wondering) and any unnecessary functions stop. Some nurses have reported seeing women whose uterus is literally white from lack of blood! So there you have a woman's body is going into labor, with muscles working to open up to give birth to a baby, while other muscles have frozen up and are not allowing the cervix to open...and these muscles are working against each other all the while you've got a baby being pushed up against your very tightly closed cervix....sounds extremely painful right? Right!
Ms. May speaks to how once a woman releases her fear, her body is able to allow her uteran muscles to work together, drawing up, and loosening at the same time...the process begins to be much smoother and more peaceful, and less painful. Now, none of the books I'm reading say birth is a painless process...but its much easier when you aren't reacting to fear. I mean, it makes sense - why does the piercer always tell you to not tense up and to take a deep breath? Because your body reacts to fear, and it creates more pain. If you've ever had a piercing, I'm sure you'll remember the piercer telling you, "Take a deep breath and relax" - this is because if you're holding your breath and you're tensed, you're going to feel it more. I remember one piercer telling me that its actually harder to push the needle in if the body is tensed. Interesting, right?
Another point she makes, which I giggled at, is that she is much more likely to believe a woman when she says "I just can't handle pain" when she is free of piercings, tattoos, or surgical augmentations...of which I have all three, haha. She said when people believe pain is for a reason and has a pleasurable end goal at the end, they are much more likely to withstand the pain.
So, that's just my two cents! Initially, I was so scared to give birth but the more and more I read about it (and watch water births on the Empowered Birth Project Instagram, haha) I am getting more and more excited. I am going to continue to ready my mind and body through education and relaxation techniques that will allow me to be prepared for birth. No, it may not be painless, but I am so excited to fully experience every pleasant AND unpleasant sensation that will bring my son to me!