5 April 2012

Thankful Thursday :: Trusting Birth


My heart hurts when I read or see most forms of news media these days. I actually just can't watch or read it much anymore. Most weeks it seems there's something pointing out why the choices I make for my family are wrong. That they make me selfish or militant or that I'm risking my child's health, or their life. It's a very personal decision, deciding how and where you do so many things when it comes to parenting, but one of the first huge decisions we make revolves around where we give birth.

From my own experience, when I became pregnant the first time and went to ask for options and advice, I was only given one choice. "Which hospital? Which Obstetrician will you be seeing?" I wasn't informed of my options. I was asked to pick a name off a list and hope that I got in because they all book out so quickly and if I wanted the hospital with the great food, I'd need to get in super fast. So I did and I felt so grateful. I put my trust in my care provider, as she urged me to do, and happily counted down days until birth. I was asked not to worry too much about the details, to just go with the flow, trust her, she knew what she was doing. As each appointment rolled around, I was trained to be used to hands inside me, a loss of dignity. "It's all part of it", she said. I was told to not worry about water birth, "the statistics show that it leads to a higher rate of epidural". A concept I've since found to be proven incorrect. But still, I trusted.

When my time came to birth my babe, it was at a time chosen by my care provider. It suited her schedule, fitting in around scheduled surgeries and before the weekend. My labour was induced, painful, difficult and quite without dignity, but still it was a fairly positive experience, so I trusted it was right. It was the best I could expect. But it had unlocked a hidden power within me. It was a defining moment for me and I felt like I'd triumphed, despite the odds being stacked against me.  I started to gather more information for myself. I read and talked and asked... I'm so thankful there were people to talk to and help me find the information I needed! I found there were other approaches and what had been so uncomfortable, what had gone against my instinct, was no longer an option for me. I learnt that to choose a birth that supported me did not make me selfish, for the mother and babe are so intertwined for those first moments and months, their health and survival depends on the respect shown them as a unit. I began to trust in birth and the process and that it could exist without all the technology and chemicals and machines that go ping! Birth works better where there is trust. No fear.

Photo 16

By the time I came to birth my third full-term babe, I trusted in birth and my own body so much that I was comfortable to birth my babe into my own hands, with my midwife in the next room, behind a curtain. She was there for moral support more than anything, her wise-woman presence providing the energy I needed. I also trusted that my babe could find her way to my breast in her own time and latch on without assistance. I trusted that our bond would be strong from the beginning. It was. Unlike her oldest sister, who spent her first minutes in the hands of strangers and was handed to me as a small, tight bundle, like a loaf of bread with a red, squooshed face and a hungry, confused mouth.  There had been moments in the hospital that showed glimmers, but until we were home, that primal instinct was suppressed. I was to expect that, and to trust that the midwives knew more than I did. It took me and Big Owlet until we were at home, in our own space, five days later, to really begin to connect. It took a good few weeks of processing and learning on my own, getting informed in my own way, that I learnt to trust in body, my baby, in myself.

So often we are trained to fear birth, to fear death and fear the messy bits in-between. We prepare for the worst case scenario. And even though there are so many natural processes that we don't have full grasp of yet, we are asked to trust the experts, because they know better than we do. But the truth is, we each have a power to know, to listen and hear what is right for us. Whatever our choice, we know when we need assistance and when we don't. If we put aside fear and trust in our primal instinct, we know. And when we are fully informed, we take responsibility for our choices, because we trust.

When things don't go to plan, that is where questioning comes in. Even if we trust in birth, life and death, it can be soul rattling. There is always grief and pain in loss. And there are always people who know better. Experts who believe they could have saved the day if given the chance. This week, a friend of mine listened as people told her they'd have saved her baby. That they knew better. They questioned how much she loved her baby, ignoring the obvious grief. Until she stood up and gave them a little insight into her journey. Into her unwavering trust in birth, life, death... and love. I'm so thankful that she gave so much of herself through this process, but it is a whole lot more than one person should have to take on and I think we, as a society, need to take responsibility for that. If her baby had been stillborn in a hospital, it would have, most certainly, been just one of those things... There'd have been no coronial inquest. In-fact, the coroner wouldn't have even been called, for stillbirth is more common than you'd think. It is part of life and what we accept when we create new life from love.

We need to trust that people make choices based on what they believe is right and that those choices are is going to be different for each and every person. There is no black and white. No absolute right and wrong when it comes to life and death and birth and all the messy bits in-between. It is organic and although hindsight might provide us with answers, in the moment there is only love and trust. My wish is that we'd learn to trust each other to make the correct, informed decisions for ourselves. That we'd learn to love, despite and because of difference, and not hate. That the internet was only full of support, rather than trolls. More information, less opinion. And that we'd not need to feel defensive when others talk about their happiness with their choices.

Tonight, I'm thankful for the people out there talking about their choices, even in the face of ridicule and hate. I'm thankful that they fight for the choices of all of us, and I happily stand alongside them. I'm thankful for the people out there informing us and helping us remember our own primal power. I'm thankful that they work to help us come from a place of love, rather than fear. Because in the end, life, love, death... it's all about love and trust.

Here's a snippet of an upcoming film that works to offer just that...

The fabulous women making the film could do with a little extra support to get it finished, but I hope you'll have a look, visit their site and give them a hand to do just that and share their labour of love. xx

I'm joining in with Thankful Thursday at Kate Says Stuff.


  1. I love this post. Love. I am so glad you learned to trust your birth! I had a mixed experience birthing my first (only). I planned for a birth-trusting sort of experience and wound up a little off path: you can hop over to my blog's sidebar for a short version of the story. So many people don't get why we'd choose a path off the norm! I see glimmers of hope in media, but the fear of birth is still a near-universal. I'm going to hop on and follow your blog now!

    1. Oh, thanks so much! I've just popped over and posted a comment on your birth story. xx

  2. I read that in a 'news' paper this week and my heart just sank to the floor. To deal with what she is right now must be so incredibly painful.

    I love your trust in birth and in yourself. And that photo is amazing!

  3. Thanks, Kate. It has been quite a week... xx


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