The people that you invite into your birth space have a tremendous impact on the direction that your birth experience and passage to motherhood takes. These include partners, aunts, sisters, mothers, friends, even care-providers. If you want to have a truly empowering unhindered experience that dances along to your own unique birthing rhythm a few things need to be taken into consideration;
- Are the people you are considering inviting into your space aware of your birth wishes?
- Do they share your beliefs around birth and parenting?
- If they are women in your family, or friends, are you sure that they will not come to your birth with pre-conceived notions based on their own experiences? Are they able to leave these at home when they come into your experience?
- If it is a midwife, obstetrician, GP or other care provider, are they aware that many of their routine interventions hinder your natural rhythm and the flow of birth? Are they willing to cast aside their own bias, unresolved issues to serve you as a unique birthing woman (who’s body and birth experience is not the same as any other they’ve seen)? (Eg: ‘harmless’ interventions like checking dilation may place seeds of doubt around ability to birth according to a time limit –which is arbitrary anyway). Are they willing to sit on their hands and simply observe a woman step into her power and give birth? Are they willing to work with you rather than dictate to you about what they feel you are ‘allowed’ to do? What is their birth philosophy? Do they share your beliefs?
- Is your partner able to accept that a woman goes through stages of labour that may appear scary (to him) but are actually a part of the process and you don’t need rescuing (with drugs, surgery, etc)? Does he trust in your innate wisdom, body knowledge, and ability to birth your child?
The best way a person can support a birthing woman is simply by serving her, and genuinely encouraging her. Support people should feel honoured to be asked to be included in this sacred space. The birth of a new human being.
As a support person, it is not a right that you are there, only the woman giving birth can claim that. Leave your own fears, issues, pre-conceived ideas outside of the birth space simply just be present, observing silently, speaking only when spoken to or if you notice this amazing woman before you is showing anxiety gently encourage her “you’re doing such an amazing job..you are bringing your baby to birth and I am in awe…just ride the wave, allow your body to open..you are a powerful woman”. Don’t talk to her or to others in the room during a rush…if you need to, go outside. Offer her a drink or ask if she would like to go to the toilet between rushes (but not every rush, take your cues from the intensity of the rush). Sponge her brow, stroke her hand, massage her shoulders between rushes or when she asks, stop if she tells you to and don’t take it personally if she tells you to shut up, just be still and silent. Take your cues from her. Only she knows what is happening in her body (and encourage that, affirm that for her if she needs you to) The care providers don’t even really know what it’s like to be in her body at this time so don’t take their side if their issues arise. A woman will know if she genuinely needs help and she will ask for it clearly and simply without fear. Take your cues from her. If you are invited to the birth, don’t just be a spectator, be a servant that doesn’t gripe or feel squeamish about doing jobs such as cleaning up.
As a birthing woman think of these people as your hand-maidens, this is your experience and you invited them, they do not have the right to decide on courses of action taken on your body and your baby. Remember even your care providers are there to serve you, not the other way around. If you don’t agree with something they may be coercing you into or actually doing to you, find your voice and speak up about it. You may find it highly beneficial to discuss these issues with the people you have chosen to support you during your pregnancy. Talk with them about their core beliefs around birth etc.
Many unnecessary interventions and traumatic birth experiences have resulted due to the fear brought into the birth space (this incorporates pregnancy) by support people (including care providers). Choose your team wisely to ensure that you can draw from their silent strength if you need to and be buoyed by their enthusiasm and support when you birth your baby in your own innate way.