It’s been a little over a year since my second child, Abigail, was born. Being the sentimental type (not to be confused with being a softie), I have been going through old photos and reminiscing about her birth. And her brother’s.
These are children I never thought I’d have. Who have graced me with their lives, their love, a family.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned about birthing, that I won’t ever stop voicing to other mamas, it’s that you are fierce. Whatever your choices, in how you birth your child – you are STRONG, you are BEAUTIFUL and you are ENOUGH.
I also lean heavily towards advocating on the benefits of hiring a birth photographer/videographer (even if it’s a talented friend), because those kind of memories? They are so worth having. They WILL be cherished now and forever-after.
For myself, for family and for mothers and fathers like you. The journey of being pregnant to birthing your babe is rife with experts and naysayers. I choose to celebrate in the diversity of it all and to share in some of what I’ve learned along the way.
There are other terms for this in the birthing world, the most popular I think being, ‘Hypnobirthing’. We took the course. Bought the book. Honestly? While I may not subscribe to everything that is Hypnobirthing, the classes, the theory, the focus on birth as being a natural process, the focus on a woman’s strength of mind, body and spirit? Those teachings and the time spent practicing meditation and self-awareness were all good stuff.
Research Your Options
Being of mixed blood and identifying most strongly with my Native roots, tradition in our everyday lives is very important. As is the case with many other cultures and faiths. We choose an Aboriginal Midwives Collective who practice hospital births in line with ‘allowing’ the execution of Native ceremony. This included turning off the smoke alarms while we smudged, not questioning us over our elder coming in, our birth ceremony songs (which included hand drumming), or having other music in the room.
Have a Strong Support Team
Not everyone is blessed to have a rock. Even when one does have one, building upon those foundations takes work. HARD work. Just like birthing. Put in the time when you are pregnant to practice together, to assemble your birth support team. If you are looking to hire a doula or go with a midwife, you should begin that process right away. The waiting lists are long and you want to align yourself with someone you connect with and that you actually enjoy being around. People who you respect and who respect you.
Regarding That Birth Plan...
It’s a good idea to have one. It’s also a good idea to to talk realistically about what goes on it. Be prepared to be flexible and accept together, that no Birth Plan should be regarded as the Holy Grail. No matter how much planning you do, birth, ultimately, is unpredictable. Also? (This is big one). As someone who idealized over having a natural birth and who had an epidural in the end, both times – know your limits. Try not to feel ashamed over your choices. Know your body and remember that epidural or not, home-birth or hospital, you are amazing.
Revel In It
This moment is yours. You know who your are in this brief moment and allow this feeling to enter into your soul and SHINE. There is nothing quite as amazing (arguably) as birthing a baby. This is one of my most favourite photos. One that I know will bring tears to my eyes when I’m old and grey. This, right here, is why I advocate on behalf of hiring (or asking a talented friend like I did) a birth photographer.
Babe To Breast
Right away. If you plan on breastfeeding, this is so important. It’s the most immediate, natural and beneficial way to comfort and bond with your baby. Imagine how freaked out they must be upon entering into all of those people and bright lights. Talk about a rude awakening.
Set The Mood
Sure, labour is grueling, sweaty, hard work. One of the benefits to having a home-birth (from what I’ve heard), is the freedom to do things such as: having dim lights, to lights candles, play your own music, not be controlled on what you eat and drink (obviously, no one should be gorging a rack of ribs or slugging back a triple latte). Other benefits include not having to encounter unnecessary medial intervention. To be in the comfort of your own home and to embrace a more holistic, naturally timed birth. If you research your options, you can have many of these things in a hospital too. Know your options. Know your rights.
Trust In Your Baby, Trust In Youself
While my birth may have ended up being far from natural, I still feel that it was as close to being natural as possible. Clearly I don’t mean in the medical sense, because, hello – I had an epidural. I adopted a stern alliance with birth being sacred and that because I ended up having to be medicated, I am no less a woman. My baby and my birth were everything they needed to be. Also, have someone take a picture like this.
The Money Shot
Now that we’ve talked about all the serious stuff, it’s time to get down to business. If you don’t have a picture taken of your newborns feet, you will regret it. You’ve conquered something miraculous, one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Celebrate and preserve these moments. In all of their physical wonder, beauty and life-like progression.
Let the bare chests be everywhere. Early skin to skin contact should begin immediately after birth and followed suit with your partner. Such intimate contact after birth promotes sensory interaction, stimulating touch, smell and warmth.
Read more on the importance of skin-to-skin contact from Dr. Jack Newman, also known as the breastfeeding guru. Bookmark his website. I know, a dude on breastfeeding? Trust me – he knows his stuff.