The motto among many birth workers is, “We are here to leave birth better than we found it.”
Many of us get in to this type of work as a result of our own birth experiences. Good, bad, or indifferent. If it was good, we want to ‘enlighten’ every one else with what we learned and we sometimes overwhelm them with what they should be doing to achieve the best birth possible. If our experience was bad, we tell them what caused it and how to avoid it. Still pushing our agenda on them to help them achieve the best birth possible.
Who decides what the best birth possible is?
I remember having a conversation many years ago with my best friend. She had witnessed my two home births and had been in the middle of many emotionally charged rants towards women that were doing it ‘wrong’. When she became pregnant, I assumed she would use the same midwives and have her baby at home, too. When I questioned her about her plans, she simply told me that she didn’t trust her body enough to do that.
This profound statement took a while to set in. I didn’t get it at first. It took years, actually. Years of talking with other women and instead of looking solely at the way they had their baby, I took into account their whole experience and history.
What is best for me, and what is best for you can be two completely different things. And that is okay. You can do it totally different from your sister or cousin or best friend. It doesn’t matter what the best experience was for them because this is your experience and it is about you.
What happens when the plan changes?
We have convinced ourselves to birth our baby in a specific way because it is what we were told to do, say an unmedicated hospital birth. What happens when after 30 hours of labor you give in to the epidural because you really need sleep? Are you a failure because you got some relief? Absolutely not. What happens if a cesarean becomes necessary? Did you fail or do it wrong? No!
When we put our pre-conceived notions on what is best we are only setting others up for failure. Are you really going to alienate someone because her choice was different from yours, although you both chose what was right for you? I certainly hope not. Instead, vow to love her and show her unconditional support while she makes the transition into motherhood.
What is a better birth?
I used to think that leaving birth better than I found it meant that I was going to educate the hell out of women about interventions and what I thought was the only way to give birth. The best way. I thought that I was going to help reduce the amount of cesarean sections in our community. I was going to change the way we did things!
Instead, I have changed the way that I do things. As long as a woman is making what she feels is the best choice for her and her baby, I do not care what that choice is. What I really care about is that she has at least one person that has her back, no matter what. Everyone has an opinion on what you should be doing, and that never changes. You will always be wrong in the eyes of someone.
For my clients, I vow to always provide them with the support they need through any situation. You can plan a cesarean for your first baby. You can squat in a pool in your living room. You can have any mix of anything in between. Myself, and everyone else on the All Mothers team are going to support you and cheer you on while you have your best birth.
Making sure that no one feels wrong, or like a bad mom for making the choices they make– that is how I am going to leave birth better than I found it.