We cannot overestimate how the media, our friends, television shows, and family members impact our thoughts and expectations of childbirth. We see women on television screaming in agony during labor or hooked up to IVs while lying in hospital beds, and we are reminded of pregnancy and childbirth stories shared by our friends, our sisters, or our mothers. And while labor may not be easy (it is called “labor” after all), it need not be feared.
It is unfortunate that mothers-to-be don’t hear beautiful birth stories of women who trust their bodies and let go of fear . . . who found a place of peace during pregnancy and birth. These stories — and these women — do exist.Â It is time to turn off the cable shows, put aside Belly Laughs and What to Expect and listen to women who are willing to share their positive birthing experiences. Where to begin?
During my third pregnancy, I found Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.Â The first half of this book is dedicated to the sharing of birth stories that embody gentle, natural childbirth.Â It is comforting to hear so many women speak positively of their deliveries; it restores hope in the strength of women and trust in our bodies. It completely changed my feelings towards labor, and the result was that I embraced my third pregnancy without fear. I felt empowered and trusted my body to do what it was meant to do: birth babies.Â There are movies, such as Orgasmic Birth, which show women having blissful birthing experiences. These are real women birthing without medications! While I feel I came across great books and films a bit late in my birthing years, I am happy to have discovered so many positive messages that I received graciously.
Below are a few books I highly recommend for pregnant women:
-Â Â Â Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
-Â Â Â The Complete Book of Pregnancy & Childbirth by Sheila Kitzinger
-Â Â Â Hypnobirthing by Marie Morgan
DONA has a larger selection of recommended books that are required readings for all birthing doulas.Â And for women who want to increase the likelihood of having a peaceful, positive birthing experience, I recommend you consider your “birthing team” very seriously. Are you at ease with your ob/gyn or midwife? Do you feel they listen to you and respect your wishes?Â Are they available to answer your questions? Have you considered a birth doula? A birth doula is a wonderful person to have on your team as she brings experience, knowledge, and peacefulness to the delivery process. She will stay with you from the beginning of active labor until your child is born – most doctors are there only for the actual birth.
It is also fair to ask people to refrain from sharing upsetting or frightening childbirth stories with you – at least while you’re pregnant. Ask friends and family members to be considerate of how sensitive you are as you prepare for the birth of your own baby. You need not be fed more fear—we all know birth doesn’t always go according to plan–instead, you need to be nurtured, supported, and reassured that you too can have a positive pregnancy and birth experience.
For more information on gentle birthing options, please visit the Rhode Island Birth Network.
Kristen Kardos, MA Ed., and Kathy McGuigan, MSW, the co-founders of RI New Moms Connection, provide affordable, accessible pregnancy and new mom groups throughout Rhode Island. In “Tips for New Moms” they share their knowledge, resources, and helpful ideas for moms just beginning their journey into parenthood or moms who may need a little refresher.
Editor’s Note: Although “Tips for New Moms” is written with the new mom in mind–to support women in their journey through motherhood–it is certainly not the authors’ intention to exclude dads. Every new parent will find their tips, resources, and insights helpful. I invite all moms and dads to share ideas on how they manage their new role as a parent with Kidoinfo in the comments below.