I wish people would stop putting the fear of God in pregnant women…
You may not think you are one of those affected ‘oh I’m easy, it doesn’t bother me, baby has to come out one way or another’. Well let me tell you, in the throws of a labour that you haven’t prepped, practiced and researched for, that tale of Judy who gave birth to the 11 pounder, or Hilary that ripped from ear to ear, or the neighbour that only just made it into triage before the baby was born in her leggings etc etc, WILL affect you. Probably indirectly but probably still.
Those of you that have read Ina may gaskin will know about what she calls ‘the sphincter effect’. The cervix like other muscles in your body has a sphincter like action, in that it is normally closed tight and rigid. You need feel good factors to relax you and let the muscle open. Just as when you are on the loo and you think someone might walk in- all business tends to stop right there, the same is true for the muscles of the cervix. I myself have experienced and witnessed it.
My fear in my first birth… Pooing! Yup I said it. And I’ll even say, it may or may not have happened but you know what- what happens in the birth room stays in the birth room (if you want it to). I was not afraid of giving birth at all, but the stories I had heard about poo…sooo not okay with that! Especially in front of your other half! Hell no! So how long do you think it took me to push that baby out? Lets just say a longggg time. A good midwife (as was mine) will recognise something is holding you back, whether it’s from dilating or breathing your baby out. If you are tensing and holding back, it will make it bloody hard for that baby to move downwards! What I was doing was using up precious energy thinking i was pushing down but the energy was actually going in all the wrong places.
We know why this happens. People are not setting out with the intention of scaring you. It’s cathartic to share your story, it helps process what has happened. But it very often can come across as a war story, a horrific near death experience told to a pregnant lady whose only real life experience of giving birth is… your story!!
And guess what- your brain doesn’t know the difference between something that happened to you and the emotion you felt from hearing it from someone else. Our body reacts in the same way.
However, it’s not just the above points that we have to close ourselves off to (a polite ‘sorry no negative birth stories please but feel free to talk to me after!” is a totally acceptable statement!) but think about what we are being told at ALL times…
-“you are having a big baby”
-“baby will have shoulder dystocia”
-“you are at a high risk of infection”
-“baby could be stillborn if we do not induce you”
-“if baby is breech you’ll have to have a c-section”
-“you’ll have to have constant foetal monitoring”
-“back to back labour will be long and more painful”
and something I’ve heard said to a labouring woman… “this isn’t actual labour…” WTF!!!
The list goes on and I’m sure there will be many many people to whom this sounds familiar. We are super lucky to have amazing doctors and midwives at hand but it is so important to remember that they must talk for the masses and not the individual and these are the protocols that they must adhere to. If you know this then you can be aware that you have OPTIONS, that you can make fully informed choices. But these fully informed choices come only from research and discussions before the big day not ON the big day.
My point is not to completely ignore these issues that may be brought to your attention by your care providers but to research and discuss them so that the fear can be taken out of the statements.
If you have been told you are having a ‘big baby’, despite being informed that this information is so so inaccurate in late pregnancy, when the intensity of labour is strong and overwhelming it is SO easy for your sub conscious brain to shout out “DO NOT GIVE BIRTH TO THIS BABY! ITS TOO BIG! IT WILL NOT FIT!!!”
Trust me everyone’s instinct is to close their legs when they hear big baby stories even if they’re not pregnant. But do you know what the truth is? Your baby is the right size for your body. Vaginas do open, your body was made to do it. Wouldn’t it seem like such a big design fault in the human race if the case was otherwise in so many women?
Breech birth is another is another thing that gets my goat. Especially after hearing a celeb on an ITV program state, “Well if baby’s breech you have to have a c-section” AND “Giving birth feels like you’re actually going to die”!!! Honest to goodness- this programme is promoted at young women and what is it telling them or even educating them on birth? Nothing at all that’s what!!
So you can see, when we go back to Ina May Gaskins sphincter law, that if what we are doing is living and breathing fear around birth and different types of birth, what will happen to our cervix and labour??? Stop, slow down, reverse in some cases, be more painful and more traumatic. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds a lot like what might happen if I was forced into doing a huge poo in public. It would be pretty bloody impossible…
To find out more about tackling your fears around birth and absolutely smashing your labour visit my page all about our Hypnobirthing courses...