There is a common theme in birth, especially first time parents, "I have no idea what I'm doing." I like to think it's just initiation to parenthood, we all just kind of fly by the seat of our pants and thank goodness when everyone is still in one piece at the end of the day. But not knowing how your birth is going to go is part of the journey. The baby is really the captain, the Skipper, you're Gilligan.
Just as in life, not knowing can very easily be paired with fear. I know for me fear of the unknown is one of the biggest things that stop me from doing something. All the what ifs can be paralyzing. But I've said it before and I'll say it again, (hell, maybe I
should get it tattooed) knowledge is power. The more you know, well then the more you know. Knowledge takes away a lot of the scary. For most. Some people, ignorance is bliss, I feel that way about calorie and fat in-take in food, I just eat what tastes good. And no, I don't want to know about the trans fats, thank you very much.
Back to the knowledge and to the fear and to the what ifs. I try to explain to my families that there is a point in labor that is scary. It feels like there is a huge, insurmountable wall in front of you. With no idea what is on the other side. Well, this doula is here to tell you that on the other side is your baby. And that I will catch you when you climb that wall and miss your footing a few times. It can be a big, hard, scary climb but damn, the triumph at the top and the descent to the other side, there is nothing like it in the world.
That scary moment, facing that wall. The techincal/medical/real term for that is transition. It is the hardest part YET the shortest part of labor. When you think "I can't do it" you are so close to the end. And let me tell you, the role of your birth team is crucial to this moment. Imagine being told to jump out of a plane with no one else in the cabin with you saying "You got this! I'm right here with you! Lets do this!" It wouldn't be nearly as exciting if you had no one cheering you on. Don't get me wrong, I'm not all go-team-go-annoying-cheerleader in my doula work, but I do a heck of a job empowering that mama in that moment. Jump, Mama! Climb, Mama! I'm right here with you.
I think that if our brains had an actual off switch, we would go through labor much more smoothly. It's those pesky "this hurts" "how much longer" "I don't know if I can do it" thoughts that stop is from just riding the waves. Take this one contraction, ride it, breathe. Then rest. That's it. And then in a minute or two, do it again. Then rest. Don't worry about the rest of us. Turn your brain off and breathe.
A friend and mentor of mine said once "There is only room for one head in your pelvis and it isn't yours." Hilarious and spot on.
Breathe. Trust. Educate. This is your birth and you can absolutely face all the unknowns head on.
Sarah: Birth doula, wife, mother, coffee and wine drinker, lover of beer, books and tattoos.