A lot of the information around birth (and especially natural childbirth) seems to focus on a touchy-feely, back-to-nature, “in tune with your inner self” kind of thing. Some women can really get into that. They understand what that means and they connect with their body and their inner emotions easily. What about women who… well… don't?
If you're a logical person who spends a lot of time analyzing, organizing, and otherwise managing the world around you rather than going with the flow, can you have a natural birth? Or is that only the realm of mamas who have a free spirit and an innate trust in what their body is doing?
Believe me, even a completely logical, Type-A woman can have a natural birth. I know this for a fact because I'm a pretty Type-A woman – and I've had four natural births. I spend a lot of time organizing and planning, and I tend to analyze everything to a minute point.
What's a Woman to Do?
I think it is important to realize that birth is a very natural event. Your body does really know what it's doing. But you are a big part of that process. It may help some women to be told “get out of the way” of the part of their mind and body that knows what it's doing, but some women are just never going to do that, and that's OK.
What's the best course of action if you don't think you can “surrender to birth” and just “let it happen?” You need to discover how to work with birth – on your own terms.
It doesn't matter if you're anxious, analytical, uptight, or even terrified. Yes, your body can still give birth. You have a baby inside, and that baby is going to come out at some point. It doesn't matter what you're thinking or feeling, somehow your precious kid is going to make an appearance!
Now baby gets from Point A (your womb) to Point B (your arms) in some very logical ways. Baby can either come through a cesarean section or down the birth canal to crown and be born. Since you're reading an article on natural childbirth, I assume you'd like baby to take the birth canal route.
There are different variations for a baby coming down the birth canal. Some come on down without much help. Some are slower. Some are pulled out with forceps or a vacuum (neither of which, you can imagine, are pleasant for you or baby).
So logically you know that your baby will travel from your womb (your uterus) through a tube (your birth canal), and out into the world.
Your job is to help your baby make this journey as smoothly as possible. That's pretty simple… pretty logical, huh?
Your Body Works
I know, you think I'm about to get back into the touchy-feely stuff and tell you that now you'll just have to let go and let instinct take over.
Thankfully, you're wrong.
Did you know that your body is a well-orchestrated system? That's right. And there are ways you can work with that system. For instance, your “tail bone” is actually part of a flexible structure called your sacrum. Your sacrum can actually rock back and forth – it doesn't rock a lot, but it's enough. During pregnancy you can get to know your body. You can understand how pressing on the sacrum in a certain way opens your pelvis further – a small opening that can make a huge difference to how smoothly your baby's head moves down past the sacrum.
The same is true with your hip bones. Pressing on those in a certain way can make more room in your pelvis for your baby to come down.
You've probably heard that squatting opens your pelvis for your baby. Did you know this is not true for all women? It's not – but if it's not true for you, there are other positions that will open your pelvis.
You, the analytical, logical mama that you are, can take the time to study and understand these things during pregnancy – I like to call it practicing birth skills – so that when you get to labor, these things make complete sense to you. You don't need to try and focus on fuzzy, nebulous concepts like “your body knows what it's doing.” You know your body and you know how it works… because you've been figuring that out (logically) for the past several months.
There are also other concrete, logical skills you can and should discover during pregnancy. Breathing is often a good thing to focus on, as are visualizations. And you don't need to picture flower petals opening, waves rushing, or anything like that. If it makes you happy, you can picture an anatomically correct model of a cervix opening for a baby! Or you can picture your own practice with your skills, or your baby working his or her way down.
You'll often be laboring with other people around, and this can cause issues for a more logical mama, especially if you have anxiety. This is a situation where staying in the bathroom can help 🙂 Ask for the lights to be down low. Pull your hair back so it's out of your face and you're not worried about it.
The most important part of dealing with other people, though, is how you speak to them. Now, you're not going to be able to have practice sessions with your doctor, nurse, or even your midwife. Your birth partner or doula, however, can probably work with you throughout pregnancy to make sure you're on the same page. As you work on your birth skills, figure out ways to communicate with each other so you know what you're talking about!
If it drives you nuts when your partner says “relax” because you really have no idea how to relax on command, have him or her say something like “soften inside your thigh.” That's a much more targeted, descriptive phrase. You can practice something like that throughout pregnancy – and when you get into labor, it becomes automatic to do so.
Your partner or doula can also learn to breathe in different ways (practicing with you so again, it's automatic during labor). Your birth partner can discover what positions open you right along with you during pregnancy – and remind you of that during birth.
It's all very logical, and very systematic. Birth is a system, and it's one you can study and learn about. Your birthing body is a system – it's a system that's designed to work “naturally” yes – but you can learn how to help the system function and flow more smoothly. And you don't need to get all “touchy-feely” to do it. You can use the skills you've learned even if you're anxious about labor, even if it hurts, and even if you're stuck laboring in a hospital room. Just work with your body… and do it exactly how you've analyzed and practiced throughout your pregnancy.
How Do You Learn?
There are a lot of different ways to learn “techniques” for birth, but there are not many ways to learn skills. Why? Because our culture lacks birth skills. We don't pass that knowledge on from woman to woman, family to family. It's a lost art, and the closest we've been able to come back to it is sharing a trust in birth. Trust is good, but that's still not giving you a picture of how to trust it.
Childbirth classes are good, but there's only one childbirth preparation method I've come across that teaches a full range of skills for birth (though several touch on one or two). If you truly want to understand your unique birthing body and which skills will work for you, check out the Pink Kit.
More on birth and birth skills to come over the next couple of weeks…