For most of us, birth is something that happens to women. Pregnant women go into the hospital one day, and out they come with a newborn baby in arms a few days later. We hear a few stories here and there about what happened in there, but generally, we don't have a lot of real exposure to what birth is and how it happens.
No wonder many of us go into pregnancy and childbirth scared, anxious, unsure, and nervous! Birth is not a concrete reality for many of us: it's simply a rumor we have heard over and over again, and we aren't quite sure what source we can trust.
How can we begin to translate the rumors into knowledge? Turn that knowledge into choices that reflect what it means to us personally to give birth in a satisfying and empowering way?
Prenatal Education on Birth
Take childbirth classes. While I do believe that every woman was born with the instincts needed to birth, we don't live in a time and place where birth is seen or experienced (until it is happening to you!). Education puts words and context to the things we sense to be true anyway about our bodies and birth, and allows us to trust those senses with concrete knowledge to back it up.
Exposure to Birth Stories
Read stories. Watch videos. Talk to other women. And I mean really talk and listen to what you hear. Even if you are sure you want the epidural, take the time read and listen to stories from women who went all-natural! Even if you are certain you don't want any medical interventions, sit down with a cup of coffee and talk to the mom you know who had a c-section. Watch a video of a home birth even if that is not something you would ever choose. Get outside of your box and your comfort zone about what birth is, and you may be surprised what you find out about yourself, about women, and about birth along the way.
Hire a Birth Doula
There are so many moments of uncertainty, even for those who are experienced and well educated. Going through pregnancy and childbirth is a time of incredible vulnerability for all women, and having a doula to help guide you through the process is one way to help normalize what can sometimes feel very overwhelming and often stretches you beyond what you might have thought you were capable of doing! A doula's experience can help take the generalizations you have heard about pregnancy and birth, and see how they apply in concrete ways to you in your unique circumstances.
What about you? Is birth just hearsay to you, or have you found ways to make it more than just a rumor?