Birth is powerFULL. We all know that. It has the strength to make us quiver and shake just by thinking of it, it has the energy to bring us to our knees, it has the intensity that provokes self-doubt, and it has the sneaky magic of reminding us just how strong we really are. Birth. We won't let you scare us. Bring it.
As your resident Rising Tide Women's Whole Life Wellness certified labor doula, witnessing birth is what I get to do. It's actually my job. Some may think I'm nuts, but that may stem from the negativity and bad rap that birth gets. Let's face it, many pregnant people (not all!) dread labor and birth, no matter how prepared they may feel. And you know what? That's totally cool with us. We understand! I strive to help our birth clients understand what physiological birth looks like (think supported but undisturbed), and how the body knows to labor and birth without much intervention from outsiders. Once we comprehend the untouched process, we give our bodies permission to do what they must to get that baby (or babies!) out and onto our chests. That said, birth ignites a fire in my soul and I'd love to share with you a few of the things that I find simply extraordinary.
1. This happens a bit before actual labor, but still, it's awesome. It's that conversation I have with a client who has educated themselves about birth and has the epiphany that they can DO THIS. Because they can! It's rare that we say out loud and to others that we believe in ourselves, and this is so important when it comes to birth. This by no means creates some sort of pact where the pregnant person must commit to a certain type of birth, but what it tells me is that they are willing to learn, trust, and think positively. They begin to accept that a baby will be born from their bodies, and that they will see themselves in a whole new light once the process has been completed. Educate. Trust. Believe.
2. My next fave moment is actually when I arrive to the place of birth (home, birth center, or hospital). There is an air of excitement and anticipation before I even gently knock on the door and let the family know that I am physically present. I love peering respectfully around the corner to see a birthing family grooving to music, a nurse providing physical touch, or the birthing person spending a bit of time on the toilet (yes!!! I'm not crazy! The toilet is a fantastic place to hang during labor!). I greet everyone with a smile, put my bag down out of the way, wash up my hands, and begin observation and gathering of pertinent information. Then, the fun really begins!!!
3. Now, we all know that sometimes, birth has a mind of its own and pulls us down a path we did not foresee or desire, and this is where my next favorite aspect of birth comes in. It's the reassessing and helping the birthing family "adjust their sails" and set a different course, or how to help them get BACK on their preferred course. It takes experimentation, patience, and a willingness to lean in and let the process unfold. My suggestions will not always be enthusiastically attempted, but our clients are such great sports and are so brave, and are game for doing all they can to move the labor along. We all know that we want labor over as safely and quickly as possible. No one wants it to drag on and on.
4. Okay, has anyone actually taken in the pure BEAUTY of a birthing person in transition? It is intense for sure, but can we all have a moment of reflection on how stunning their skin is, glimmering in sweat as a result of intense energy surging through them, cheeks rosy pink and dewy, eyes usually shut from being in deep concentration, opening maybe for a few seconds to catch a glance at their loved one with the expectation of being cheered on quietly and told how much they are loved. And the hair! I always say, birthing hair is the sexiest thing ever. Messy bun, short and mussed, or down and flowing, with their partner or myself keeping tresses out of their face so they can fully devote themselves to concentrating on labor. There is so much going on in this moment, yet it's one of the most peaceful events ever.
5. Okay, now this one I put here knowing that not all families birth their babies vaginally, but maybe it will give anyone planning a VBAC the vision they need to continue to stick up for their birthing rights and to keep going.
This final moment is brought to you by the second in time from when a baby's head and shoulders have been born, and there is a pause before the final nudge to get baby out. The love and excitement are palpable, the moment a family has yearned for is finally here. With a deep breath, the rest of the baby's body slips from their former home, and the look of "holy crap!" on their parent's faces is the work of goddesses. It's a look I really can't fully explain. But just thinking about it makes my heart pound. The baby is out. And that feels SO GOOD!!!!!!
Birth is very hard work, no matter how your babies journey here. Your birth story matters at Rising Tide Women's Whole Life Wellness. To learn more about our array of doula services, join us here. We look forward to sharing these moments with you and your loved ones.
Lindsay Miller is a certified labor doula, certified birth educator, RN-BSN, mother of 3 boys under 10, partner to her fabulous husband Shaun, and puppy crazy over her 12 week old mix, Rosebud. Lindsay resides in Kingston, MA on the south shore and serves births in the greater Boston, South Shore, and Cape Cod towns.