Preparing for childbirth is like learning how to ride a bicycle without ever getting on the bike.
It’s really hard to imagine the pain without ever having seen it, felt it or been told about it. We know it’s going to hurt, but what we don’t know is how badly it will hurt or how we will react. It’s not hard to realize that going into birth blindly can result in a poor experience.
100 years ago and beyond…
Women were giving birth regularly at home amongst their family members. Grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and children were all at the scene. It was common for women to see other women give birth. They were knowledgeable about labor pain well before it became time for they themselves to feel it. And, of course, it was common to have bad outcomes before the development of guidelines, policies, and procedures. Women labored as their life depended on it because it did. It was a dangerous, but routine act to have a baby.
Here, in the 21st century…
Most women do not see a birth before they themselves are pregnant. It is rare to be present for someone’s labor and delivery. Birth is considered a private time behind hospital doors and with strangers at the helm. We have fantastic medicines and we’re promised the “good stuff” by tv commercials, doctors and society. In fact, most of our lives we avoid pain with over-the-counter medicine and IT WORKS GREAT (thankfully). However, now women barely feel pain and they do not develop their own coping mechanisms to reduce it naturally.
So if we don’t see it, we don’t feel it, and we aren’t taught about it, how will we ever know how to cope through it and enjoy it. Enjoying labor pain is hard to imagine, but with the proper preparation, women can embrace labor, be present in the moment and be empowered by their body’s performance.
It is, after all, what our bodies were created to do.
So why is it so important to prepare for the birth process?
Doesn’t it just happen whether we want it to or not? Isn’t it natural regardless of preparation? Well, yes, it is natural. Honestly, what is more natural than sex and procreation? It’s not something we have 100% control over and neither is birth. However, what we can control is our reaction to pain, our preconceptions about childbirth, and our dreams of how we hope birth will go. Our minds are very powerful and if we envision ourselves having a terrible time, then it most likely will go that way. It’s best not to let labor happen to you. As this may result in you feeling like a victim to labor pain, instead of emboldened by the happening of it all.
Preparing for labor should be a standard requirement in pregnancy. There is a definite need for it. Having seen countless women (prepared and unprepared) deliver before my eyes, I can tell you, those who were prepared were significantly calmer, more assured and had a more satisfying birth experience. Today, we’re lucky to have the medicine, facilities, providers and birth education that we have today, but it doesn’t mean we should ignore lessons of our past.
So how does preparation make you enjoy the process a little more?
By learning about what happens to your body during childbirth, you have a greater understanding of the necessity of each contraction. You are able to enjoy the process and embrace each contraction leading you closer to your baby’s arrival. Childbirth education teaches you ways to cope through the pain. It’s still painful, but the confidence you gain during childbirth education translates into a more controlled experienced. Feeling in control empowers you. Knowing how to breathe, sway and move through labor will help you engage in the process instead of fighting it. Instead of allowing labor to happen to you, you are telling the contractions who is boss. You are a laboring woman warrior working to meet your baby with intention and purpose.
Knowledge is, was, and always will be power. Learn how to prepare for childbirth with my online classes and complete pregnancy prep course!