Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Move Over, Birth Trauma. It's Time for Joy

This post is for a friend who is in the final days of pregnancy with her third child. She is tired, 'over it', and ready to meet the kid already, both emotionally and literally, as she is nesting up a storm. She's trying to be patient (compared to how I was at this stage--ready to stand on my head if it would get that baby out). She's worrying about names, about childcare, about having space and time for all of her kids. All of that is to be expected. 

What concerns me is that she's scared about the birth.

Unlike first-time moms, she's not frightened of the unknown. She not worried about her friend's horrible labors, or a birth she saw on TV, or a co-worker's fright-filled tales. She's scared because of her own first two births. She's scared because she doesn't want another broken tailbone and dozens of stitches like she had with her first baby. She's scared because she doesn't want an emergency Caesarian birth with prolonged pain and difficulty breastfeeding, like she had with her second baby.

Birth is many things: emotionally wrenching, painful, joyful, ecstatic. But it shouldn't have to be traumatic. I could sing this from the rooftops. There's too much birth trauma out there, and too much denying of women's emotional and physical pain from their births, as women are told they should be happy they have a baby. Period. Women are constantly told that the experience of birth doesn't or shouldn't matter. 

But the experience does matter. Growing and delivering a baby is an overwhelming, life-altering experience, second only, perhaps, to raising one. 

Here's my message to my friend:
You are a beautiful, wonderful, capable mother to two terrific kids. You will soon be all that and more to your third. You have the power to birth your baby. I believe in you. You are strong, and you are brave. Surround yourself, in these final days of growing your wonder baby, with people who will remind you of all of these things. When you are in labor, remember that you only need to get through one contraction. When that one is over, you'll have a break. Just focus on one at a time. When it's time to deliver, stand or squat or lean. Protect yourself and your tailbone by getting into a good position for that baby to emerge, no matter the size. I pray that you will both be healthy, and safe and happy. I pray that this will be the birth you've been waiting for. 
And as I said to you, on learning that you were expecting this child: the first is a biological necessity, the second is fulfillment of a plan, and the third is pure joy.

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