A life-altering experience
Childbirth is a defining moment for a woman – the tangible kick-off to your motherhood endeavor. As important as pregnancy is, birth is where the rubber hits the road and it all becomes very, very real.
Many mothers find that beyond the physicality of birth, there is a mental and emotional (and even spiritual) aspect to childbirth that sets the tone for the beginning of your journey as a mom. It’s hard to articulate, but those experiences most profound to us – such as childbirth – change us in ways that aren’t always easy to identify or comprehend.
And just as the experience of childbirth is incredibly important for moms, I personally believe that how a baby is brought into the world also matters for the baby – the physical aspects as well as the surrounding atmosphere (the emotional and spiritual climate).
I would never say there is one way to have a wonderful birth. What’s ideal to one woman might sound terrible to the next. (And of course, there are always the unforeseen medical issues and emergencies that none of us count on.) But with some time and research and thought, you can give yourself and your baby a better chance of having a beautiful birth experience for you both.
An unplanned cesarean birth (c-section)
I’ll be the first to admit that birth doesn’t always go according to plans.
Although I knew it in theory, the lesson hit home when I had my first son.
I had labored at home for twelve hours before arriving at the birthing center when my contractions were around 2-3 minutes apart. Shortly after arrival my midwife discovered that Levi was breech.
Since no doctor in our hospital would deliver a breech baby vaginally at that point, I said good-bye to the natural birth I had hoped for and said hello to the operating theater where I’d undergo an “emergency” cesarean birth (c-section).
Despite a few waves of sadness as I grappled with the unexpected, I was very much at peace throughout the whole process, and welcomed our son with immense joy and excitement.
Although it was a good experience overall, I did have to work through the emotions of disappointment and unmet expectations, both in the moment and even more-so during the weeks and months that followed.
There were certainly a few things that I would have preferred were done differently had I been a little more educated and/or prepared in the event of an unplanned cesarean.
A planned VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)
I knew with my second pregnancy that I wanted to try again for natural childbirth, and it was important to me to plan for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I did copious amounts of research and spent far more time preparing for this birth mentally and emotionally than my last.
Obviously birth doesn’t always go according to “plans”, but when it does, it’s amazing…
The all-natural VBAC birth of my second son, Judah, was a defining moment in my life. It was the birth I had hoped for in nearly every way – beautiful, rich, redeeming, rewarding, difficult, excruciating, exhilarating, celebratory, and amazing. (And perhaps a million other adjectives!)
In both of my births, my little boys were the stars and I was the leading lady. It’s just that in one I also got to be the director.
I’m so glad that I took the time to understand what I was headed into, know my options, make my own decisions, and be actively involved in shaping my own birth experience and Judah’s debut.
I’m convinced that all of my preparation (researching, praying, deciding, planning, and being my own best advocate) was a major factor in achieving the all-natural VBAC birth I desired. It would be naïve to think that it was the sole reason for being able to pull off the birth I wanted, but I absolutely know it was a key to my success.
Being empowered to start motherhood off well
Giving birth in this way does not make me any more of a mother, or give me any “right” to poise myself as an expert, but I do believe my positive birth experience contributed to a healthier transition for all of us. And that is the main reason that I’m passionate about this subject.
I want all women to be empowered to start motherhood off well, and I want all babies to reap the benefit of the best possible opening scene to the story of their lives.
Although I don’t think childbirth should (or can) be micromanaged, I do think it should be researched, prayed about, planned for, and enjoyed as much as possible.
Dear friends, today I’ve shared some of my own birth experience and history as to why I think this is an important subject. My next two posts in this short “Plan Your Best Birth” series will be 4 Reasons to Write a Birth Plan (even if things don’t always go according to plans anyway) and How to Organize and Write a Birth Plan. I hope you’ll find these posts helpful for your own motherhood journey. For those of you who’ve already had children – did you “plan” your births? Why or why not? What did you lean?