I’m pregnant and I am massively looking forward to giving birth. In fact I’d go as far as saying what I’m looking forward to most about this whole being pregnant and having a baby thing is the fact that I get to give birth again. How lucky I am to get to experience this incredible, mind-blowingly amazing, freaking miracle of an ‘activity’ that I KNOW is going to leave me feeling like super-fucking-woman. I’m going to feel intensely loved, powerful and euphoric and these feelings can last weeks. I get to do the best day of my life all over again.
Now that might strike you as strange, but why is that? You must agree giving birth to another human being is quite an awesome thing, even if you’re a man or you don’t have any kids, just the very concept of producing another human is mind-blowing. That’s a given, right? And by extension you must think women who give birth are pretty amazing too. So why is it we don’t look forward to, or at least don’t talk about looking forward to the experience of giving birth?
I’ll tell you what I think… I think it’s because we live in a culture that celebrates and actively promotes fear around birth. You only have to visit a few websites, and I’m talking big major websites, such as babycentre.co.uk to see the kind of language around birth that pregnant women encounter. We are expected to feel frightened, nervous and fearful. We are culturally conditioned to feel these things and it is reinforced ALL THE TIME. In conversations with friends, with family, with colleagues, in books and on websites. We are not expected to look forward to or feel excited about giving birth and certainly not expected to enjoy it. Excited about taking the baby home, sure, but when it comes to the actual labour and birth the assumption is we should all be terrified. As a result people share negative birth stories because this is the ‘norm’ and those who have positive birth stories feel it’s inappropriate to share because their experience must be a one-off or nobody would believe them or they’d come across as smug or boastful because everyone knows birth is totally horrific so they must have just got lucky. BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE.
Birth is normal and natural. Like going for a poo. We have been birthing and pooing for the same amount of time. We are not terrified of going to the toilet. We might not enjoy going for a poo under bright lights in front of a load of strangers, equally we aren’t going to enjoy giving birth like that. But in the right circumstances, going to the toilet is no biggie and nor should birth be. There is a difference, of course, between going for a poo and giving birth and that difference is how amazing the second one is and how good it can make us feel. Because giving birth leads to a baby and becoming a mother, not just the excretion of waste products. So that is why we should definitely look forward to giving birth because, in the right circumstances, giving birth is a natural, normal thing that leads to an incredible outcome. There is nothing to fear. There is only the opportunity to feel the best you have ever felt; euphoric, proud, overjoyed, invincible, empowered. And you get a baby. And don’t even let me get started on how awesome babies are.
So I want to encourage everyone out there to be mindful of the way you talk about birth and if you’ve had a positive experience SPEAK UP! Ask your pregnant friends if they are excited or looking forward to birth, not if they’re nervous or frightened because that suggests they should be and introduces fear where they should be none.
And please don’t think I’m talking exclusively about vaginal births because I’m not. I’m talking about all births. However that baby comes out, you can (and should) feel proud and empowered. Also a note on the ‘right circumstances’ – do everything you can to make your chosen birth place a calm, safe and protected space. It’s more important than you probably think. Discuss it in advance with your birth partner and write down what you want for the big day. This is why birth partners are vital because they have such an important role play to play: they are in charge of ensuring the birthing environment is optimum! At home you obviously have a lot more control but if you’re headed to hospital, take a pillow from home and sprinkle it with lavender essential oil, take some battery operated tea light candles to light the room and your own music and a speaker etc. Do what you can to make that birth space your space.
For those still unconvinced let me just tell you this:
- Giving birth is your time to SHINE.
- The people in the room are all there to support YOU (how often does that happen in life?)
- Everyone in the room will think you are AMAZING.
- The room will be FULL OF LOVE.
- Your birth partner will be in AWE of you.
- You will BIRTH AN ACTUAL HUMAN BEING!!!
- You will feel like you can do anything.
- It will be the most SPECIAL day of your entire life and nothing will top it.
- You will feel EMPOWERED and like an all-out SUPERWOMAN.
- You will feel more PROUD of yourself than ever before.
- And everyone else will be so PROUD of you too!
- And then, whether immediately or after a little while, you will FALL IN LOVE harder than you have fallen before.
- And you will be in the BEST CLUB EVER. Forever. Membership on Motherhood does never expires.
Giving birth is kind of like running a marathon but imagine that all the crowds on the sidelines are cheering just for you. You know that goosebump feeling of goodness you get? When your body is flooded with feel good hormones like endorphins? And there’s people cheering (probs not for you but they’re cheering anyways) and you have happy music playing and you feel good about life? Giving birth is kind of like that. But unlike a regular marathon, this one you WIN. And best of all; before you even start out, you know you’re going to win.
So imagine, if by some magical intervention, you knew for sure you could win a marathon and you knew you’d feel freaking amazing, wouldn’t you look forward to it??
Feeling prepared obviously helps. The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for birth is to book yourself onto a hypnobirthing course. If there’s not one in your area or it’s not possible for you and your birth partner to attend for whatever reason, then check out The Calm Birth School. It’s an online video course and it’s brilliant.
Also please pack a kick-ass birth bag! I actually looked forward to labour beginning so I could finally unzip my bag and get my hands on all the goodies I’d packed for myself! I was kind of a bit gutted when my labour was so quick that I didn’t get to use all the good stuff I’d waited so many weeks to use. I packed new super soft fluffy bed socks, I bought a fleecy dressing gown and a new fluffy towel. I had bath bombs and massage oil packed. A diptyque candle. A bottle of champagne. Honestly, it was like Christmas but better because I didn’t have to fake-happy face a single thing because I’d chosen it all myself. It was like opening a massive bag full of amazing presents, that were all for me, without feeling even a twinge of guilt. Kind of like how a child feels at Christmas I guess. And what kid doesn’t look forward to Christmas?
So if you do that, what’s not to look forward to when the big birth-day rolls round?!
So come on, let’s change this negative attitude and embrace birth! It’s amazing, we’re all superwomen and it’s going to be BRILLIANT.
And just so you know I’m not talking total rubbish, here’s a photo of me taken a few seconds after I gave birth in December 2014… I don’t look like I’ve been through the wars do I?! In fact I think I look pretty goddamn happy… (and if i can do it, anyone can).
Final thing: If you’ve had a positive birth experience and want to share it with other pregnant women, I’d LOVE to feature your birth story on my blog so please drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org