10 key truths about giving birth
10 key truths about giving birth
Sharon Gavioli has worked in the area of supporting women and men in preparing for ‘birth parenting’ for the last 18 years, and is also a woman who has given birth to seven children (yes, you read it correctly, S E V E N). Sharon trained and worked initially as a breastfeeding counsellor, and throughout her time has provided a series of ‘birth and parenting preparation’ workshops for groups, individuals and couples. An extensive writer around the Birthing subject, Sharon has also presented talks on ‘Navigating the Maternity System’, worked as Childbirth Educator for the Childbirth Education Association, as well as being a former representative on a Paediatric Clinical Governance Committee at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane. With her personal and professional experience in Birthing, Sharon shares the wider learning and thus deep understanding that has evolved about what’s truly needed to support the mother, baby and partner during this precious birthing process.
Most women approach birth wanting to do the very best for their babies and to experience birth without it being too painful or traumatic.
With this approach we tend to prepare for birth according to some of the following beliefs currently held by many:
- Good childbirth is natural; and even orgasmic
- It is the woman who completely controls the birth outcome
- There is a right way to give birth
- That natural childbirth prepares us to be a better mother
- Birth shouldn’t be painful
- The woman needs to be calm and in control during labour
- Birth is highly dangerous and cannot be trusted
- Most women need assistance to give birth
- Giving birth by caesarean is failing yourself and the baby.
But do these notions actually serve women in understanding how to support themselves to give birth?
Is it possible that when we align to these ‘ideal’ positions it creates a pressure to achieve a certain outcome and/or ’helplessness’ around what happens to us in birth? Either way we have the potential to feel like we have failed, or some may feel that they have an edge over other women. This can lead to comparison and/or judgement that in the end reinforces in us that we are either less or better, depending on how the birth unfolded.
What if ? ...
The way a baby is born is NOT a marker of a woman’s worth or her ability to be a loving mother
The birthing process is not about achieving a certain outcome (producing a baby), but actually about how supported women feel throughout the experience?
I have found in my experience 10 Key Truths that can help support us women in giving birth:
We can connect to what is right for us in birth, as there is no ONE right or correct way. Gently questioning what we have been told or led to believe by others about birth can assist in feeling the truth of what feels right and true in our body.
The birth process can be influenced but not controlled, remembering that the baby also plays its own role in how things unfold; how it’s birthed.
Supporting ourselves lovingly with deep care and attention given to our bodies during pregnancy can enable us to freely accept true support during the birth from our partner, family member, known midwife or paid birth support.
It is great for men to have the opportunity to be supportive during pregnancy so their support can more naturally flow during the birth.
Practising listening to what the body needs throughout our pregnancy enables us to respond to what is needed to birth in our own way.
Giving birth is a physical process that can be intense. Understanding how the woman’s body works in labour develops a greater trust and acceptance of how labour unfolds.
It is worth learning some simple practical tools such as deep breathing, positioning and massage to support the process of labour due to its unknown nature, even if the birth is by caesarean.
It’s important to feel totally supported and honoured throughout your pregnancy and birth. Just like choosing a builder or plumber, carefully explore the available options and trust your sense around who is the best fit for you.
Accepting pain relief, interventions and caesarean if needed can be a loving choice, not a failure.
Immediately after giving birth, some women may need a space to connect back to themselves – even before embracing their baby.
These 10 ‘Understandings’ or ‘Truths’ are not about achieving a certain outcome at the expense of listening to the body or our inner knowing. Rather, this support when lived can enable us to be gentle with ourselves in regard to addressing any introduced issues, ideals and beliefs we may have around birth, and its process. This allows the innate knowing of what is our ‘right way to birth’ and ‘to mother’ to be embraced without the usual judgement or comparison with others or ourselves.
Through this process there is a greater opportunity to develop a true confidence and trust in our own natural loving way that may then deeply support us throughout this precious time, and beyond into motherhood.