Before Jack came along and I was introduced to the world of parenting I had never heard of things like midwives, doulas, home births or birth affirmations. I probably would have laughed at these things, called them “hippie” and said they had no place in modern society. Since then I have come to not only feel that they have more of a place in society than most of the things I went through giving birth to Jack, but also to feel a deep sense of empowerment as I internalize more of the values behind these concepts.
The more I learned about my body and my experience as a woman and mother the more I began to see that I did not truly trust my body to give birth. I did not trust my baby to come into this world naturally. I felt I, and all women, were dependent on authority to get us through birth safely even when there was no safety risk. I thought myself as a passive member in the birthing process. This brings me back to delivery with Jack. While doctors and nurses were yelling at me to push I was begging them to help me, to free me of this situation, to “get this thing out of me!” One of the doctors said that I needed to do it. That I was the only who could get the baby out. It made me feel afraid. I couldn’t do that! I was “under” their care for 9 months. I had little to say in the decisions being made about me along the way. I was never consulted on any decision or procedures, but when it came right down to it they couldn’t do anything for me. This didn’t make sense! If they knew all along I was the only one who could get the baby out then why wasn’t I prepared for this? Why didn’t they tell me that? Why wasn’t I given some tools to do it?
My second child is due in 5 weeks. Since Jack was about 1 year old I knew that if I was lucky enough to get pregnant again I would do things very differently. I have since come to see birth in the US as being in a state of crisis. Birth has become a profitable business where policy and protocol take precedence over the empowering experience birth is supposed to be for a mother. Policy, protocols and procedures have taken birth from a natural process to a factory assembly line with strangers in a position of authority over our bodies. I am now planning a homebirth. I have done a lot of work on my perspective of my body and spirit in order to prepare for this. I know now that I truly am the only one who can birth this baby and that is how it should be. I have built a team of people who respect the power of my body and who genuinely believe that I am capable of doing this without their intervention. They have built me up from the start, have consulted with me on every decision along the way and recognize me as the authority in my birth. They see me as an individual with individual needs with my own unique desires and needs to make this birth an empowering one. I have done deep self-reflection and examined the emotional barriers that I will face going into this. A major tool for me has been birth affirmations.
Birth affirmations are deeply personal and unique for each birthing mother. As I began this post I imagined that I would explain what each one means to me, but I realize now that each one deserves their own post. Over the next fews weeks I will take each one and open up about what it means to me and my next birthing experience.
Abby Theuring, MSW