Birth is hard work.
Like the hardest work a woman will ever have to do in her life.
It's an incredibly vulnerable time, one in which she may feel frightened, unsure of herself, scared, or even sad. She may worry she can't do this work and might even feel like she has failed if her birth plan isn't going 100% according to plan. She may want to quit, give up, or begin to fight the process. These are all very normal reactions to the overwhelming sensations that labor can bring, but the key to a positive experience, even when things go differently than planned, lies in one thing: Surrendering.
The longer I support laboring moms, the more I observe that relinquishing control of the birthing process is absolutely key to a healthy mental and emotional state. But it's really, REALLY hard to do. I know this because I have personally been through childbirth three times with my own children. And each time it was very different. New fears crept in with each birth scenario, and I had to constantly discipline my mind to stay focused and in the moment. I was tempted to watch the clock, get fixated on numbers as they pertained to my cervical dilation, and frankly, quit when it got hard. It was definitely a battle of the mind.
One thing I intentionally talk with my clients about is the importance of surrendering throughout the laboring and birthing process. Here are some examples of times when this reminder is particularly useful:
I chose the above picture from a birth I doula'ed about a year ago. I love this photo, because the mom laboring in the tub was very close to meeting her baby, and she was surrounded by so much love and support from those present. When I talked with this mom about her birth experience, she gave me permission to share this with my readers about that moment:
"I doubted whether I was strong enough to persevere through whatever the birthing process would bring. Since my baby came three weeks early and caught us by surprise I felt like I wasn't fully ready to face the pain. Through the support and encouragement of my birth team and Happi as my doula, I was able to learn how to give in to each contraction rather than fight them. I was strong enough. I did it!"
She surrendered, and...she did it!
Happi loves serving families in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago as a labor doula and childbirth educator. When she's not at a birth, she loves spending time her husband and three boys.