Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood
I don’t think any woman — at her core — can fully fathom a baby coming out of her (unless she’s already had a baby). We can conceptualize it, but the reality of it seems unfathomable. Even when we nod in childbirth prep classes and feel we’re absorbing the information, it can feel impossible to get completely on board with the belief that a baby can exit our vagina, or that muscles and flesh can be expertly cut into so the baby can be retrieved. When we’re sitting at home — vagina, uterus, and abdominal muscles intact — it feels inconceivable that at some point the body will go through a wild transformation to allow the miracle creature within us to emerge.
The thing is, you don’t have to believe any of it is possible for it to be true. You’re off the hook for not fully buying into the fact that you can do it, because whether you believe it or not, you can do it and will do it. Whether “doing it” looks like having an unmedicated birth, Pitocin and an epidural, or a C-section matters not. All of it requires courage that will show up when the time comes.
It’s also important to remember that many other pregnant women can relate to how you’re feeling — a lot more than you realize. The very natural fears and doubts you’re experiencing are so much less isolating when you realize you’re part of a sisterhood that shares those fears and doubts. If you don’t feel chipper about the whole birthing thing, you’re not broken. You’re in good company.
However, having an enhanced belief in your ability to birth your baby can make the time between now and the moment you feel like you need to have a bowel movement but actually just need to have a baby a lot more enjoyable. So let’s get to some practical ideas for how to do that.
Find your people. Reach out to pregnant women you know, or meet new ones by joining a prenatal exercise group or another type of gathering that attracts pregnant ladies. When you find a few candidates you connect with, invite them on a mama-date and share your feelings about birth. Many of them will likely respond with similar sentiments and support, helping you feel less alone and more understood. If they don’t, they’re not your people. But keep looking. They’re out there.
Take a childbirth prep class. Investing in this type of instruction can chip away at doubts about your birthing ability by teaching you how the body births a baby, without filling you with fear. It should also provide a bevy of techniques for pain and fear release and relaxation enhancement. Even if you don’t fully buy into the techniques, practice them, as your doubts likely come more from your deep-seated skepticism about your ability to birth than from insufficiencies in the methods. By forcing yourself to practice all of them at least once and continuing to practice the ones that resonate, you’ll build a powerful tool kit for birth. This tool kit will be utilized during birth whether you realize it or not.
As a doula, I’m often amazed to see the “tool kit techniques” that come up from the ether of my client’s subconscious during birth. I often hear, “I didn’t even decide to use that technique, it just happened.” This can occur only if your mind is filled with tools for pain relief and relaxation. Collect the tools, then trust that the ones that need to come to you will.
Treat yourself to a birth doula. Set yourself up for even more birthing confidence by hiring a doula who makes you feel safe and supported. A good doula comes equipped with in-depth knowledge of many of the tips and tricks you’re learning in your classes and books, and they can help you use the tools that will be most effective for your unique needs during each phase of labor and delivery.
If you’re concerned about cost, know that new doulas often provide their services pro bono to gain experience. You can also look into a volunteer doula program. There’s a list of organizations that connect
women with free or low-cost doula services in the “Recommended Resources” section of this book. You can also reach out to a doula in your community and ask them to refer you to a local organization, or specific doula, that provides affordable care.
Listen to this: To fortify your confidence-enhancing preparation, utilize this guided meditation, which helps you visualize yourself having a happy and healthy birth experience: yourserenelife.wordpress.com /enhancing-birth-confidence/. In addition, download this birth affirmations recording: yourserenelife.wordpress.com/feng-shui-mom my-birth-affirmations-download-link/.