Wednesday, September 7, 2011

non-empowered birth vs. empowered birth

*I use the term "non-empowering" because I was just fine with my son's birth experience.  I was treated with respect at all times but in no way was I empowered before, during or after that birth.

PREGNANCY
Non-empowering:  I compulsively googled strollers, baby carriers, breast pumps and baby boy bedding sets.  I learned absolutely nothing about normal birth but I could tell you all about the different bedding sets at Target.  At 20 weeks, I did switch ob's to a doctor I loved and respected but I chose him simply for the fact that I thought he was a nice man, not based on his attitude toward birth or his c-section or induction rates.

Empowering:  I decided to have a natural childbirth.  Bam!  Instant empowerment.  I realized I was in charge of my pregnancy and birth and I would be the one calling the shots.  I compulsively googled natural childbirth stories, read everything I could find about normal childbirth, spent weeks perfecting my birth plan and ultimately, made the switch to a homebirth midwife at 35 weeks.

LABOR
Non-empowering:  I woke up in labor two days past my due date and was completely filled with dread.  I was scared of labor pains and really didn't connect the fact the pain would bring forth my son.  I labored at home and checked into the hospital when I was sure it was "real".  IV narcotic drugs, an epidural and 4 hours of sleep later, I woke up to the sound of my very sweet L&D nurse telling me it was time to push.


Empowering:  I woke up in labor 9 days past my due date and absolutely thrilled about it!  I was ready for the contractions and ready to put into place everything I had read about labor during my pregnancy.  I swayed my hips, walked the house, bounced on my birth ball and called my midwife to let her know the time was here.  The pain was a for a powerful purpose and I knew it......even though I needed a doula to remind me during transition.

DELIVERY
Non-empowering:   Flat on my back and with my feet in stirrups, I "purple pushed" as my nurse counted to 10 with my contractions as viewed from the monitor.  I was 100% numb from the waist down and had no concept of my pushing contractions so the counting was very much needed.  I literally felt nothing and had zero control of my body.  But, somehow I pushed out that sweet little baby in just 35 minutes.


Empowering:  I tried several different pushing positions and eventually settled kneeling on the bed with my arms around Mr. Messy's neck.  Feeling every movement of Liza's descent through the birth canal, I watched in a big mirror over my dresser as I slowly and painfully gave birth to our daughter.  Yes.  It hurt.  But, my body was giving my birth exactly as it was designed to do.  Every hormone, every loosened ligament and every uterine contraction was serving it's purpose.  And what a sweet little purpose it was.


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 So yeah.  An empowering birth is pretty awesome.  I was immediately and deeply attached to my daughter in a way I just didn't feel about my son after his birth.  I also realized I can do anything.  Anything.  And, I learned an empowered birth is not unattainable, magical, mystical or solely reserved for women in beautifully written birth stories.   It is the hard-earned product of arming yourself with knowledge and choosing to be an informed consumer of maternity care.  If you care enough to google baby bedding, you should care enough to google normal birth to help to ensure your baby will be protected during his or her entrance earthside.

Girl power!

Seriously.

13 comments:

Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

YES!!

Jessica-sweetpea'smommy said...

natural birth IS empowering! Great comparison; lots of women on the fence need a comparison like this. I had 2 intervention-free water births; both extremel different - each beautiful, painful and empowering.

Laura @ our messy messy life. said...

Kaitlin, I like that enthusiasm :)

Jessica, I do feel like my perspective of natural birth is a bit different than many women coming from all natural births or a traumatic birth experience leading to natural birth. Thank you for commenting!

Mandi said...

Almost everyone I know thinks I'm crazy for wanting to use a birth center and midwives and not considering an epidural. It doesn't make me feel like an outcast, but instead it just makes me very sad.

Dale and Holly said...

love. Love. LOVE. This is so eloquently written and truly captures the essence of an empowered birth experience while not taking away from the beauty and miracle of your son's birth, which is perfect in its own way too.

Laura @ our messy messy life. said...

Mandi, agreed. Because so many of those women have no concept of how wonderful a natural birth can be.

Holly.......now that I know who are you :).......thanks!!! And, you are right. Henry's birth was perfect and exactly what I wanted and expected for that point in my life.

Taylor said...

I know how you feel Mandi. People think I'm a lunatic when I discuss weather modification and extra terrestrial intelligent life. It makes me sad to know that many people do not have open minds, nor do they wish to examine the facts and research surrounding the pertinent issue.

Anisa said...

I had an epidural and I felt completely empowered...it was my decision. I feel 100% connected to my little one and did immediately after his birth. I think empowering is whatever you feel the best about...and for me, I felt anything but empowered when I was dealing with horrible contractions. Just wanted to offer another perspective.

Laura @ our messy messy life. said...

Taylor, maybe you should start your own blog....

Anisa, I absolutely believe that a medicated birth can be empowering, just as a non-medicated birth is not necessarily an empowering experience. The root of the matter is that empowerment comes from education, respectful care and informed decisions. But, these are the two experiences I have to compare :)

Tara said...

This was a really insightful post. I had a natural birth (2 weeks past my due-date) and while it was very painful and intense I am so glad I was present for it... especially when it came time to push, because I could feel it and work with it. I never considered the connection between an empowered birth (however that looks for you) and immediate bonding with your baby in those words exactly, but it totally rings true to me. Maybe the pain and hard work just help you appreciate the miracle of life just a little bit more.

Nicole said...

Amazing post! It really hits home for me. As this will be my first, I'm very nervous about a natural birth, but I'm educating myself- reading everything I can get my hands on and watching videos. I want a natural childbirth so badly, just terrified I won't be strong enough. Having a supportive husband is great though!! and I plan on a doula :)

Laura @ our messy messy life. said...

Tara, agreed! I also have a few theories about bonding post natural birth happening in a more natural, organic manner because of the oxytocin release isn't inhibited from the epidural or replaced with pitocin.

Nicole, you can do it! And, definitely get a doula.

Taylor said...

Aliens still exist, fyi...... You gave birth to a couple of 'em, and one of 'em at home!