Birth Perfectionists

Disappointment in a birth experience comes in a variety of disguises….but today I’d like to talk about one of the most insidious types that, well – if I’m to be honest then I have to admit that I’m not sure what I can do about it! I would love suggestions, however….

Mainstream childbirth is scary – it is rooted in fear. We are raised on it, indoctrinated to it from family, friends, TV, movies, books….when the mainstream talks about birth, it’s horrible and scary and traumatic and everything bad.

For those out of the mainstream and who are wanting to empower women to their options and other ways, it’s often an uphill battle. To counteract all of the scary and negative things (the extremes of emergency situations) that mainstream has been force feeding us all of our lives, the natural childbirth advocates try and counter balance that – and the only way is to match their scary with equally blissful. Enter the fist-pumping of “you can do this!”…Orgasmic Birth (movie), Birth Without Fear (book), Hypnobirthing that promises that if you just do their method right you will feel no pain….images of women laughing, blissfully and effortlessly breathing their babies into being surrounded by dolphins and waves crashing and looking like it was so good for them that it’s more like birth-porn.

The problem is that while both extremes are possible…neither one is really rooted in reality. The reality is that when left alone, birth USUALLY occurs without medical incidents…and the reality is that birth will USUALLY be the most intense and physically demanding experience a woman will ever in her lifetime experience.

For those in mainstream birthing, this isn’t a problem! They go to the hospital, load up on ‘whatever’…and at the end of the birth they feel LUCKY to come away healthy and with a healthy baby. They so much EXPECTED it to be a horrible experience, that they feel fortunate for most any outcome in which they bring their baby home. They don’t feel responsible for the outcome, they don’t feel empowered, they feel like they are along for the ride. Doctors can sit back in their leather office chairs and wink knowingly at each other that they are deemed the “Heroes” when the reality is that most of the time things work just fine!

For those who are not mainstream, there is a problem I am seeing over and over again…and this is the problem I don’t have a solution to and would love to hear suggestions about! A woman begins to explore outside the mainstream – she takes a childbirth class, hires a doula, chooses a homebirth…..and she has a baby. From MY perspective, she had a great birth….she vocalized and moved and grunted and sweated and gave her all, and her healthy baby was welcomed into her arms….and all is good!! We clean up, she snuggles with her baby, we leave with plans to return the next day.

It’s not until the next day that the problem begins – I ask her how she’s feeling about how everything went, and her gaze shifts down and her face drops a little. It is here that I find out that she’s disappointed – not in us, not in the birth – but in herself. She vocalized and she sees that as somehow being less strong. She felt like giving up (like we ALL do!!) and is disappointed that she felt that way. At no time did she ever feel close to orgasmic as she thought she might…GAH! I see a strong woman who did whatever was necessary to birth her baby and this powerful mom is now holding this beautiful newborn babe in her arms….and she’s disappointed because she somehow didn’t live up to the expectations she’d built up in her mind. She didn’t birth “right”….

This makes me want to bang my head into a wall. A nice big red-brick wall. I mean REALLY!?! You’re disappointed in yourself?? What in the world did you do wrong?? Or even less than perfect!?

I attended a birth just 4 days ago with a really cool first time mother. I mean REALLY cool…she had me giggling several times through her labor. She spent most of the time in the birth pool with her husband forehead –to-forehead with her…she just vocalized through each one beautifully. When she was 9cm she declared to me that she was sorry she didn’t get a chance to make the coffee cake she’d wanted to for us…I rolled my eyes at this silly woman thinking about us and that on the cusp of becoming a mother. She pushed and pushed and pushed and finally birthed her 8+ pound baby into daddy’s hands while sitting on a birth stool next to her bed in their bedroom – I was super impressed by her strength and fortitude.

The next day she said to me, “And if you’d like, we don’t mind if you share your version of the birth story – as long as you don’t feel the need to sugar coat anything on our behalf! Tell it like it truly was for you!” I asked her what she meant by this – did she think that the only way she could have a ‘beautiful birth story’ was if it was sugar coated?? She was disappointed in her reactions to birth, it hadn’t gone the way she’d imagined….

Makes me want to cry. Rather than feeling her own triumph, her power and strength in overcoming the obstacles put in her way, she judged herself in what I feel is an unrealistic way and way way too harshly!

She had challenges, sure….baby’s shoulders needed a little help (very little), and she bled too much after the birth (that got my attention!! But it was resolved relatively quickly..) but she, the mother, was IN MY OPINION amazing!

Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why do we judge how we birth as “right” or “wrong”…good or bad…and how can we help change this? I can tell a woman all day long how fantastic I think she is, and she will shrug me off and act like, “I bet you say that to all the girls.” Well, yeah, I probably do say it to a lot of them – because it’s true!

How can we get mothers to be able to release expectations and allow themselves to just birth the way they need to birth? To realize that the person who laughs their baby out isn’t a “better birther” or “stronger woman” than the one who yells her baby out!!  It’s not a performance you are being judged on.

This message of ‘good birther’ is so sneaky that some may contribute to it and not realize it.  I’ve heard many doulas say things like, “She did such a good job!  She just relaxed and breathed through it!”  Umm, would she have been doing a less good job if she had been moaning? I think you did a good job if you do whatever it takes to birth your baby – end of story!  If we transport to the hospital – are you less “good” at birthing?  Absolutely are doing whatever you need to in order to birth your baby!

This is something I’m struggling with on a regular basis right now…how to get women to realize how really cool they are and to quit being birth perfectionists.

Any ideas?


  1. Kolleen wrote:

    Umm…wow. I am really not sure what to say?? It does sound like an incredibly tough struggle that you have to face…and I am really not sure that there is anything you CAN do?? I know that there are a lot of areas in my life that I feel supremely inadequate for and time and repeated encouragement is the only thing that has helped me feel better about myself…I think it is largely self-perception. I know you, Stephanie, and I know that throughout that pregnancy you did all you could to help that new mama understand that every birth is unique, different for every individual and I truly believe that if she decides to have another baby she will approach that birth with a different mentality… Experience is the biggest motivating factor to change any outlook….

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink
  2. Beautiful article Steph… Yeah, I’m right with you. While an “orgasmic” or quiet birth seems like a cool thing, it isn’t reality for many, and that’s okay. (I prefer making a ot of noise!) Between my 2 birth experiences, I was much more like a warrior, moaning, roaring, and working. It hurt, it was intense, and it was satisfying, and in the end of my second birth… I laughed as I felt my daughter trying to wriggle her way out! I was under the impression that after pitocin contractions with no pain meds with my first, that an uninduced labor would be a cakewalk. HA HA! 🙂 As different as it was, I did enjoy the variation of intensity, but they were still pretty intense! Women are strong… and we need each other to remember that.

    Keep doing your work Steph, you are needed, and loved. Thanks for putting this out there…

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Permalink
  3. Diana J. wrote:

    This was pretty much me, with my first birth… I actually found it to be fairly traumatic, because I was (due to Hypnobirthing classes) expecting a fairly painless, pleasant, and/or “manageable” experience that I could handle without too much difficulty. I was wrong! It was the hardest thing I have EVER done in my life (and most likely will ever do). And while that was eventually the source of the transformative and empowering feelings that I had regarding my birth, I also felt a bit of let-down and disappointment – I hadn’t had the perfect Hypnobirthing birth, I had had massive amounts of unconquerable pain, I wasn’t able to control my body, my emotions, my vocalizations, etc. It took me a long time to work through my birth experience.

    I have pondered this problem for a long time – I think we contribute to it by just showing the “good” births – the mother singing through labor or laughing, or being blissfully silent, rather than the mother who (like me!) yells her head off. But if we showed the “real” births, how would we keep from being fearmongers?

    Thanks for bringing this up!

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink
  4. Angela H wrote:

    Steph, what I tell women is there is no right or wrong way to birth, but if they “go cavewoman” by giving in to the primal, following their bodies cues, grunt, moan, breathe, giggle, roar, scream, whatever it is your body is telling you to do. Get out of your head, let go of expectations, know that you’ve prepared yourself with a variety of techniques and just go with it. If it feels right, it’s right, if it feels wrong, try something else.

    If the ultimate end goal is an unmedicated birth in which you felt you were well supported and were coping and not suffering, and we achieve that by any or all of the methods above, we’re golden.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  5. Ana Hill wrote:

    Thank you for posting this, Steph. I see this also, and it frustrates me. I wish we had more movies like the section in Gentle Birth Choices where the woman is having back labor. It’s so REAL seeing her working, sweating, talking about how she complained and cried. And she was POWER itself, getting through that! We need that middle of the road between those horrible cable shows and the blissful-painless-looks-unreal movies. Birth is HARD work for most women. It’s not any less amazing, powerful, beautiful, or even graceful to see a woman work her way through it. In fact, I think it’s more. So much more.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Permalink
  6. Chantel wrote:

    I wish. I myself fell into this trap with my twins. I mean, I seriously lost it after the first baby was born. I had used up every bit of my energy and determination getting my footling/complete breech Baby A out. EVERYONE said it would be easier with the second baby. Well, everyone was wrong! I totally lost my head trying to push out her posterior vertex brother. It took me 30 minutes to bring him down and out (and I’m an effective pusher, too). I was screaming, crying, moaning, BEGGING this child to get out of me because I was so exhausted. The next day, when I woke from my exhaustion-coma, I felt….shame? Embarrasment? Like I had failed somehow? I’d just had TWINS! AT HOME!!! WTH?! But the feeling was pervasive. That somehow because I’d totally broken down and lost my head I’d failed at birth. Uh, it’s not a test that you ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. And I KNOW that. But I couldn’t shake that feeling. Now that I’m not hormonal I know I rocked it no matter how it went down because the very act of carrying to term is a miracle in itself. And really, even deeper than that, so much of birth is outside of our control. It really is a body reflex more than it’s conscious. Maybe that’s it? We get our heads in it too much?

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Permalink
  7. Linsay Smith wrote:

    I can SOOOOOO relate to this one. Though I do not have any answers for you. I know for me, I remember feeling badly, like I should have not thought I couldn’t do it, I shouldn’t have said that over and over, or asked to go to the hospital cause I couldn’t take the pain. I too thought I would be empowered in that moment, and the empowerment, for me, came after. When I was laughing a chatting with you, Kate, Rose and Neil, sitting in bed while you all clened up, holding my perfect angel. Then I could look around and say, “wow, I thought I couldn’t, and I did, and it was FANTASTIC!” I was proud of myself and my body. I too bled ALOT and larbored long and really thought I over estimated myself. But, I did it all along.

    Maybe seeking birth “perfection” is something deeply rooted in first time moms, due to the fact that it is the unknown. There is no way to describe a contraction to be accurate, so we cling to these ideas because that is our only option. After it is done and you have had the experience, you may look back and go “ok this too shall pass, contractions WON’T last forever, breathe, moan etc etc” So, in hindsight you think you can/will handle it differently the next time. And by saying handle it differently, it comes across like handling it “better”.

    I have no regrets about my birth story with Porter. I love love love my birth ladies, we are forever bonded. Those that hold your hand in that experience, hold your heart forever. But looking at the joy I feel now in having Porter, I would like to have rocked with him while in labor and told him to take his time and it was ok. I think Noelia said it on her FB when she was in labor “I will trust my body, no matter how much power runs through it” (or something like that) But, for me at least, there was no way to comprehend and harness that power the first time. And why we feel like we need to, I dunno. Maybe there just aren’t the right words, like there is no word for the feeling of labor, there are no words to accuratly describe the feelings and emotions after.

    I will say I am so glad my story is what it is. I love that we had a gorgeous boy in our bedroom, with my favorite funiture, comfy bed, blooming flowers and amazing people. How you come into this world is indeed important, not just for Porter, but it changed me.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  8. Meradith Fraser wrote:

    I too have been thinking a lot about this as well. How can I as a doula create an atmosphere of empowerment so the momma feels safe in whatever position or whatever noise she makes while laboring? I took hypnobirthing and my labor was far from being pain free and I did feel like a failure for a short time that I didn’t do it “right”. But then I thought, the experience was perfect in every way because I did do it! I did push a 9 pound baby out without interventions and without tearing or needing any other help than a fabulous midwife who encouraged me to do whatever it took, moaning, yelling, changing positions, swearing if needs be! I wish I had a video of that birth, I would share it with those that have those same feelings of failure. My hope and prayer is that I can as a doula, help women feel empowered with their birth, because they are the ones that make the choices on how and where and what they do.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  9. Meredith wrote:

    I think it is so important to remember that “normal” is this hugely broad spectrum with “orgasmic” at one end and “excruciating” at the other and some births visit both ends! Orgasmic Birth is one of my favorite birth films, even though I’ve never experienced orgasm during any of my 3 births. While pregnant I love to view positive birth videos and read positive stories because it makes me feel good. But vocalizing, doubting, screaming, crying, begging for help shouldn’t be considered “negative” in any way! I yelled, I moaned, I said “I can’t” but I DID birth my babies and I think that’s the important piece to focus on. I DID, I DID it. I don’t think there is harm in showing the singing birther, the orgasmic birther, or the screaming cursing birther as long as the emphasis and the measure of success is not the coping mechanisms that mom uses…but the ability to honor what her body needs to birth and allowing herself to do that, or ask for what she needs.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  10. Tianna wrote:

    This hit home for me. I’m very proud of myself for having a pain med-free hospital birth. But so many things went against my birth plan. I was induced 2 weeks early for low amniotic fluid (which turned out to be untrue). I had to have Pitocin. I never convinced them to turn it off (though I did succeed in getting them to half the dose which helped IMMENSELY). I had to go 22 hours on a clear liquid diet that left me weak. They broke my water. Then for the next two hours I felt the most intense pain. I was ready to quit. I asked for pain meds (but I was too far along and they wouldn’t give them to me). I felt like I had failed.

    Now that it’s over I can see the many miracles and the many things I did right. I only felt pain for _two hours!_ Moms everywhere hate me. Even moms who get epidurals often go for at least two hours without. I listened to my body and knew when and how to move to different places and positions. I gave birth without medication even though my body wasn’t ready to birth and even though I was pumping out Pit-contractions plus my own. (And I think they were right on top of each other, making every contraction twice as intense!) I tore a little, but my biggest pain was my tailbone from that horrible L&D bed. No one could believe I didn’t want narcotics for the pain, just ibuprofen. Not even my midwife!

    But despite knowing the miracles and blessings, there is still a part of me that believes that, in some aspect, I failed. Because things fell apart. Because I wanted to quit. Because I felt so much pain.

    I keep hoping that with Baby #2 I’ll be able to go into labor naturally and be able to work up to the intense contractions. (Thanks Andrea for popping my bubble of the second being a cakewalk! Hah!) I keep hoping that a different atmosphere where I can eat and have strength will help. (A birthing center or at home. Too bad you don’t live in Utah.) But part of me still fears that I might fail again.

    Thank you for this blog post. I think it’s exactly what I needed to hear. I needed reinforcement to remember that I GAVE A BABY LIFE! In the way that God intended! I needed to hear that it’s normal to feel that pain, to want to give up, even to feel like a failure. It’s normal and acceptable. If it’s not just me, if it’s what is expected, then perhaps, just perhaps, I didn’t fail at all. Perhaps I did it just right.

    I wish I had known—really known—this before labor. I’m glad to know it before I go through it again. Again, thank you.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  11. Wow, I have seen this too. And I think it stems from a few things…
    1. the need to control and lack of surrender {we are NOT USED TO surrender in our lives. It is a NEW THING!} As women we are told to control everything in our lives from the time we are little girls and then we get to childbirth and somehow in order to have a “perfect” birth we have to let go of ALL control and totally surrender, this is foreign for many women and the lack of control they feel when they DO surrender makes them feel as if they did it WRONG! They are just not understanding the difference between control and surrender and that what they did was exactly what THEIR body needed to do!
    2. women’s lack of trust in birth and in their own body –
    This takes time to work through and deal with. We are also taught since we are little girls that we should NOT trust our bodies, that we aren’t tall enough, thin enough, pretty enough, healthy enough, etc.
    We are not used to our bodies doing ANYTHING right.
    3. the promises that others make about birth that it CAN be controlled if we somehow do x,y,z
    -Some advocate a specific method of birth will give a specific outcome and when that doesn’t deliver {because that didn’t work for that mother’s body} then
    women tend to fall back into the pattern of the rest of their lives… believing that somehow THEY did something wrong.
    This is an issue that I deal with in my childbirth classes because it is HUGE and it is a big reason why women choose to have a hospital birth with epidural over a natural birth or homebirth… they have more “control” and have to surrender less. It’s comfortable. Those who do surrender and do what’s outside their comfort zone often will feel like something is “off” or “wrong”. Those women who are used to surrender in their lives on a daily basis, they will most likely be the ones having an orgasmic birth or even enjoying birth.
    Just my own opinion but as a childbirth educator and doula, I have noticed the same thing… we have to be so careful what we SAY or imply to women and make sure they know that their body/birth is in control and that birth is NOT a force to be controlled… it is to be surrendered to.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Permalink
  12. Amy Hatch wrote:

    I am myself a recovering perfectionist…I think that I was unsure what my birth ‘should’ have been like. Although having it be my last, I did have some goals in mind to NOT have it be. It still was my first water birth and first and only home birth. So when you go through such an intense experience, it can leave you a little shocked to say the least.

    I think what works for many of us is to focus on what was unique and special (besides the darling baby!) about that particular birth. Sort of their own ‘award’ per se for most determined birth squatting or most rapid recovery or most harmonious environment, etc. I think it is such a mixed bag of emotions, you may just need to redirect their attention to allow them to be proud of themselves despite their perceived deficiencies…

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
  13. Andra wrote:

    I have spent these last three months silently grieving for the birth I didn’t get to have. I started out at home, but due to a collective of circumstances (none of which were life threatening to mom or baby), I transferred to the hospital and -you guessed it- ended up with a c section.

    And none of it was anyone’s fault, specifically, it wasn’t MY fault.

    I blamed my body for having so much prodromal labor, causing my son to turn into a funky position (even though I have no control over this whatsoever).

    I blamed myself for not being able to stop pushing when I got the uncontrollable urge at only 7 cm (have you tried not pushing? It’s difficult, to say the least).

    I blamed myself for having an infection in my bag of waters, leading to sepsis as a result of the surgery and a 7 day stay in the hospital (again, how would I have known what was going on when there were no symptoms until it was too late?).

    I blamed myself when I had absolutely no milk for the first 4 weeks of my son’s life (due to the myriad of medications and antibiotics I was prescribed to heal my body).

    I blamed myself for his trouble, his hatred of latching on (he had only been fed from a bottle, he was confused and hungry!)

    It’s taken me a long time to accept that none of it was my fault. And it was nobody else’s fault either.

    I have a perfect little boy and at the end of the day, that is the most important thing. But I am allowed to grieve.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  14. elfanie wrote:

    You are absolutely allowed to grieve!! The loss of a dream that you had…the loss of the birth you’d hoped for…the loss of the blissful postpartum time you’d envisioned….for all of the CRAP that was thrown in your way. And I grieve with you.

    What I do not accept is if you judge yourself as anything other than the super-est of super women! If you accept any “blame” for the events, or judge yourself in any way for events beyond your control. You were pushing….your BODY was pushing. You can be pissed off at circumstances…but you absolutely can not be pissed off at yourself. You took each step as it was thrown at you, you rolled with the punches, and you did everything – EVERYTHING – possible for your baby…even a cesarean, the LAST thing you wanted! I just can’t see anything that you did that was worthy of anything other than deep admiration.

    I don’t envy your situation nor what you went through….I do think that your son is lucky to have a mama as strong as you that could endure all you endured. I hope that at some point in your life you are able to see the strength you must have within yourself to overcome such obstacles the way you have…

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink
  15. Melissa Smith wrote:

    Having been at the above mentioned birth (I’m this particular perfectionist mother’s sister), I completely agree that the idea of a perfect birth is ridiculous. There truly is no right way to give birth; each is unique, and each mother is as unique in her approach and should be encouraged to do whatever she feels is right to birth her baby. But, having known my sister her whole life, and being a perfectionist myself, we silly girls tend to have our bar set ridiculously high regardless of the task – and we forget that things like baking the coffee cake really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things! You and Kate were at once supportive, professional, loving, and said exactly what my sister needed to hear when she needed to hear it. I can’t even put into words what a wonderful and life changing experience to see my nephew being born was for me, and all I had to do was watch, fetch things when needed, and otherwise try to stay out of the way! : )

    I believe to make a profound change in our society’s attitude towards birth we need more people like yourself, and other midwives, doulas, sisters, friends, mothers, etc., to reinforce the reality of natural birth – the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, easy, hard, unexpected or disappointing… For any woman who’s curious, the chance to witness a natural birth in-person is just as important (at least in my opinion) – it’s in turn emotional, painful, powerful, exhausting, and yes, SCARY, but in the end, exhilarating to watch a child come into the world in a way that our bodies are capable of doing if we allow it. I’ve seen numerous births on PBS, TLC, etc., and for me, it just doesn’t/can’t compare to witnessing a birth only feet away! I won’t say it’s for everyone, but once the fear, myth, half-truths, or even complete untruths are debunked, natural childbirth in all its un-perfect glory can, again, become mainstream. I’m so thankful that there are people like yourself, and those that posted their own stories in response, in this world who provide education, support, and straight-up un-sugarcoated honesty about the subject.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Permalink
  16. Sara wrote:

    I never had any delusions expecting an orgasmic birth. I just knew that wouldn’t be me. I’m sure it’s possible, but I knew that was going to be me. But as a first time mom I really had no idea what to expect. I did know that millions of women had done it before me, without hospitals, medications etc. so I could do it too. I was strong, my baby was strong and together, we’d make a great team! And we did! Maybe I’m a bit of a realist. I had some candles that I thought we’d light. I had snacks ready (for me and hubby as well as the midwifery team – yes, i’m having a baby, but wanted to be a good hostess), I had contemplated music. My son had other plans. He wanted a subdued nighttime affair. My water broke at midnight and he was in my arms before the sun came up.

    While it wasn’t what I had imagined, it was just perfect. It was our birth! Just like any other major life event (like a wedding), it should be right and perfect for your family and not fit to anyone else’s standard!

    Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 11:27 pm | Permalink
  17. Jessica wrote:

    You were right Stephanie. 🙂 Had I only read this before our appointment today, I might’ve talked less about how my birth didn’t meet my own expectations because I didn’t labor as I ‘planned’ and we could’ve talked about the cute little Lumpkin more. 🙂

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 12:43 am | Permalink
  18. kami wrote:

    I agree with you but unfortunately I don’t have any ideas on how to change it, really. I think we as women are just hard on ourselves in general. If it’s not about the way we birth, it’s about the way we look or the way we take care of our house. I think one of the things that helped me be open to how I might act in a natural birth was to watch birth videos where women were vocalizing. Yes, the orgasmic or hypnotic birth videos are amazing to watch but it was nice to watch videos where the mother moaned or sang the primal song of birth. I remember the first video I watched where the mother was singing the “birth song” – I was a bit taken back. It was weird to me. But I learned to realize that if I made those noises…it was okay. My body would do what it had to do. And, as I birthed my baby on the floor of our bathroom and made those very primal noises, I remembered that video. I remembered that I didn’t have to feel self-conscious about making those sounds or doing this or that. I realized that it was the way birth (for me) was supposed to be. I think that is part of what made my birth so amazing. It hurt…it was intense…but it was me. I gave birth how my body gives birth and how could I be disappointed with that?

    *I realize I did not have any complications which would have caused me to be sad or feel regret about the situation, but I have also experienced that when I birthed my first with an epidural and felt really sad that I didn’t accomplish the natural childbirth I wanted. Unfortunately, as hard as it is to see women have bad experiences, sometimes those are exactly what they need to search for something different and better.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 2:36 am | Permalink
  19. Sara wrote:

    That’s sad that women feel this way about themselves and their births.

    I was noisy. (And proudly proclaim that I mooed)

    I screamed a few times (when others distracted me and I felt the waves get ahead of me. Such as when they were stretching the exit and I tore)

    I was not vocal enough about my preferences, and because of this I was shut out of the birth process. There were two births happening in the room. The one that I was having, where everything was as it should be, and the medical version where everyone was rushed. The two collided, and I disappeared. This was not anything that I did wrong. I was simply not prepared and didn’t expect what happened, and so I was not ready to fight.

    I have regrets, but they are not about things that “I” did wrong.

    I want this birth to be exactly like the first, but slower. And I don’t want to disappear under the birth plan of the hospital.

    I want to have the strength to say what should not need to be said: “No. I am giving birth to this baby. You are here in case complications develop. If there are no complications, you are just here to watch.”

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink
  20. I, too, of course, see this. Almost with every single birth.

    27 years ago, when my Bradley class met again to tell their birth stories, I listened as each woman spoke of things she was disappointed in, wished she could have changed. Even me, the UCer, had huge things I would have changed. I sighed with each of us.

    Then, a woman told her birth story… being in the candle-lit living room on a bear skin rug, fireplace ablaze, beautiful music, just she and her husband/lover and the midwife sitting quietly back. And this woman! EVEN THIS WOMAN! Said she wished she’d – I don’t even remember what she said because I was incredulous.

    It was then that I realized ALL women will probably have some regrets… even if the rest of us are baffled by their desires.

    Instead of trying to change the belief before, I tell that story so women understand that it is perfectly normal to “wish” something were different. It helps women re-frame their experience.

    As you said, it isn’t sugar-coating at all; it’s telling the truth in the most honest and basic way possible.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink
  21. Jenn L wrote:

    I can see where that would be a hugely frustrating aspect of your job. Unfortunately I have no advice other than keep doing what you’re doing. Keep encouraging all those mothers and telling them how amazing they are/were.

    I think for me this was the one good thing about having a c-section with my first (aside from actually getting a baby out of the deal). Pretty much any birth that resulted in me birthing my baby naturally and vaginally was going to make me feel like the most powerful woman ever. Sure I can look back at moments of “did I really say that?” and “I can’t believe I did that” but in the end I’m ridiculously proud of the job I did. And you had something to do with that.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink
  22. Katie wrote:

    After my son was born (at home, in water as I’d imagined his birth to be) I remember being a little sad it went so fast and I didn’t have time to enjoy the process. I know that might sound insane to some women, who dream of fast births, but his birth overtook me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I wished I’d had time to savor early labor more. But I wouldn’t say I had regrets or wished it had gone differently.

    I remember being in labor and needing to make noise, which surprised me. But I took it as it came. I think I may have apologized in the middle of it for my profanity and my noise level, but my amazing midwives assured me I was doing everything just as I needed to do it. I’ll never forget how wonderful that was: feeling like I wasn’t being judged but was instead being supported and honored.

    I’ve doulaed in hospital births where the birthing mom, pain-med free, was told to ‘stop making so much noise’. I always lean down close to her then and tell her, “You make as much noise as it takes to roar that baby out. You are amazing and what you’re doing is perfect!” I think we don’t see or hear women in birth being loud and cursing and groaning unless it’s in TVs and movies where mom’s water breaks and everyone RUNS before baby makes its appearance in high-drama fashion. So we tend to associate noise in labor with those kinds of births and that level of, quite frankly, ridiculousness. And who wants to be like that? If more women knew that even planned, controlled, beautiful natural births can involve noise and groaning and a loss of control….I think we’d feel more comfortable with surrender. I thank Ina May’s books for preparing me for that, as well as my midwives and the many, many videos I watched.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  23. Amy Drorbaugh wrote:

    I don’t really understand this phenomenon because I am exactly the opposite. After each birth I feel like superwoman and I want to shout it from the rooftops. I regale each and every family member and friend with my birth story and when they stop being interested I move on to complete strangers! Anyone who shoes the remotest interest in my baby will probably get more details then they ever wanted about the birth. LOL

    Each birth was different but each was beautiful and wonderful. Excessive bleeding, artificial rupture of membranes, and delivering too quickly for my midwife to arrive are all included in my PERFECT births. I went from woman, to pregnant, to mother and it was a miracle each time.

    And my quick plug is this, I love hypnobirthing. It did not lead me to believe I would have an orgasmic or pain-free birth (still skeptical about that being possible) but it did teach me to relax and let the birth happen which made my 2nd and 3rd deliveries much easier than the 1st. Yay for hypnosis!

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  24. Triana wrote:

    Andra, your story was also mine… right down to the infection… except I only dilated to 5cm after two days of labor, so when infections et in and I developed a fever I was swooshed away to the op table… I now know the infection was due to all the nurses sticking their grubby mits up me every hour over the two days I was in labor. I was so sad for such a long time and cried and cried… we had kept the sex unknown and I had a vision of dh & I finding out together, but in Spain noone is allowed in the op room, so dh was not there with me to share the news and I never got to see the look on his face when he got to hold ds for the first time… I still cry and it was almost 2 years ago. I felt like a complete failure, especially since my mom had filled us with stories of us 4 children being born in 2 hours or less with absolutely no effort at all… I myself was a home-birth and the pics show her smiling face behind legs with my head crowning… Her own daughter was not able to do it and ended in c-section… Now, here I sit recently pg with #2 and I PRAY that things go differently this time… I am meeting with a doula and I KNOW that if he/she is born naturally, under whatever conditions, I KNOW I will be on cloud 9 with joy!!! This is my dream.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  25. rosie_kate wrote:

    I am curious as to whether this comes up most with first time moms. After my first, which truly was a beautiful home birth, I felt very disappointed in myself and it took me years to work through it. In fact, I’ve only recently come to terms with it. It was just SO not what I expected. It was nothing like “text book” but rather was confusing and VERY long and hard. The baby’s head didn’t engage until I’d been in labor quite a while, I had back labor for no apparent reason, and my dilation did not progress very well. I have a fabulous midwife who helped me through all this, and in the end, it was a triumph and completely amazing, but I didn’t feel that way at the time. I think it was a case of expectations versus reality. I thought it would be more “normal” and predictable. I thought I would handle it gracefully– how bad could it be? I was wooed by the stories of “nearly painless” or “quick and easy”.

    Now, as I wait to go into labor any time with my second baby, I’m certainly praying it’s going to be a little easier, but I don’t have any illusions, either. Naturally, I’m curious about the whole hypnobirthing thing, but I have to be realistic in order to be prepared. Often in stories that I read and videos that I’ve seen, there is a message of “birth doesn’t have to be painful.” I think that is detrimental to birth preparation. The general fact is, it’s gonna hurt, it’s gonna be hard, it might take way longer than expected. This time, I know I’m gonna cry, I know I’ll yell, I know I’ll complain and whine and totally wuss out at some point. But I’m gonna do it (what choice do I have?) and in the end I’ll greet my baby with joy and relief. I’m also reserving myself the right to do whatever I have to do to make it through.

    I don’t know if there’s a solution to that problem other than to be understanding when it happens and be as encouraging as possible. I also think that the most HONEST possible preparation needs to be given to a pregnant mother.

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink
  26. Rachael Pena wrote:

    Thank you Stephanie for this powerful post and for helping me put my birth experience into better perspective. I sincerely thank you for sharing your thoughts and for the kind words. The birth of our baby was everything I’d hoped it would be. We labored exactly the way we wanted, on our own terms and in our own home. It was intimate and private and my husband was a phenomenal coach. PHENOMENAL. I used the positions that worked for me, moaned and groaned as much as I needed, and even laughed and joked at times. Throughout the whole process I always felt safe, un-judged, and unconditionally loved. And the result was a natural birth and a beautiful healthy baby boy. But… And there’s the rub, right? Why does there have to be a ‘but’? Because my name is Rachael and I am a birth perfectionist!
    It was such an intense experience to feel my body pushing my baby through me and feeling that uncontrollable urge to push with it. The feeling was SO powerful and it scared me. It was the most intense physical sensation I have ever felt and I was, at times, afraid to embrace it. Being scared made me feel weak. I pushed for several hours. I pushed with everything I had and against the fear, but progress was slow. Then there was urgency – the baby has to come out now. I always knew I could and would be able to birth my baby, but now what scared me was how. How was I going to push any harder than I already was, how was I going to find the strength, how was I going to dig deeper than I already had? Again I was scared. My baby was depending on me and I didn’t know how I was going to do it but I knew I had to. Finally he was out and he was okay. I breathed a sigh of relief. But I felt responsible for his getting stuck, for how long it took me to free him, for his crazy purple cone shaped head, for all the suctioning he had to have, and the little bit of breathing trouble he was having. If only I had been to get him out sooner, it was my fault. Now it was time to deliver the placenta, but it wasn’t detaching and I was bleeding. Again there was urgency and I could see the joy on my husband’s face as he held our newborn baby boy was tainted with tinges of fear for me. And that was my fault. Strike two. Now both baby and I were stable and safe. My bleeding stopped and his breathing was good. Second by second things were improving. Time to nurse my baby boy. But my nipples were a little too flat and we couldn’t get a latch. Strike three. Why can’t anything just go ‘right’? That’s how I felt. Like I hadn’t done any of it right. And now after reading this post and really exploring my feelings and working through the experience from a distance I realize how stupid that sounds. What does ‘right’ mean? Does it mean without any complications? Complications or not, I DID it. I birthed my baby and I did it naturally in my own home just the way I wanted. I had a healthy baby who is utter perfection. And I nursed my baby, just not as soon as I had hoped and not without a little help. I realize now that maybe instead of giving myself less credit because of the obstacles I faced, maybe I should actually give myself more credit because I conquered those obstacles. Maybe they made me stronger and not weaker.
    So thank you again for this post and for the enlightenment. I love, respect, and admire you more than you know. 🙂

    Friday, July 2, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink
  27. Steven Pena wrote:

    I see that disappointment as an extension of the birthing process. Just as some mothers doubt their strength during birth, I think it’s just as natural and part of the process to be disappointed with any part of it after delivery. I don’t think that delivering the baby is the final curtain on the birthing experience. How you digest that experience and grow from it is just as much a part of it. It’s one more obstacle (aka opportunity) to help enrich that experience. I can’t understand how much there is to process mentally, emotionally, and physically during and after the delivery. But I believed and knew my wife would embrace and overcome those challenges during delivery. And I knew she would do the same after. Just as birthing takes time, that processing of the experience may take time.

    I think we should understand and embrace that disappointment – not place any expectations on how a mother may process such a profound and new experience. Otherwise, mothers may be disappointed further at the fact that they are disappointed (oy – what a vicious cycle!). The best thing we can do is to be honest about the experience and communicate our experiences honestly. In that, more realistic expectations can be set. And more “allowances” can be given for doubt, fear, and disappointment. Most of the discussions I see and hear about birthing focus on how strong mothers are (this blog somewhat reinforces that). And they are. But new mothers going through that experience are bound to feel disappointment if they don’t feel they delievered with that same strength. This is nearly impossible to expect for them immediately – they haven’t gone through processing of the experience that these mothers have. They don’t yet have that perspective and distance to look back and say – “Wow – I Rock!”.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Permalink
  28. Kelli wrote:

    I have a lot more to say on this but I’ll start by saying that in Rose’s childbirth class she shows vidoes of several births. Mom is quite and calm, another is oh so loud its startling, they amount of “pain” thay APPEAR to be in varies, but each is interviewed after and I noticed the quite calm ones sometimes spoke of pain and panic, and the loud one sometimes spoke of calm and even comfort. To show that the way things appear on the outside may show nothing of what the mother is feeling internally could help balance the perspective that quite=calm&control and vocal=agony&chaos. In my experience using my breath and voice moves pain and panic away, the more vocal I am the better I am coping. Being a good birther I hope will come to mean doing whatever your body and baby tell you too do whether it looks pretty or not, staying in control of your birth involves surrendering control of your actions to your instincts regardless of how it looks on that birth video.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink
  29. sara wrote:

    “After my son was born (at home, in water as I’d imagined his birth to be) I remember being a little sad it went so fast and I didn’t have time to enjoy the process. I know that might sound insane to some women, who dream of fast births, but his birth overtook me in a way I wasn’t expecting. I wished I’d had time to savor early labor more. But I wouldn’t say I had regrets or wished it had gone differently”

    This was me also- I had a very fast first birth that most women would envy, but despite the fact that I know it was awesome I still keep asking myself why I didn’t do things differently-I replay everything in my mind as if I could change it. Why didn’t I know I was in labor until it was too late for my mom to come and take pictures? I was looking forward to experiencing labor with my doula who is a good friend of mine and who has 3 kids of her own, but she only had time to meet us at the hospital. After she was born I let them take her away after a few minutes because she was “too cold”, why didn’t I just do a home birth anyway?!…

    and on it goes. The facts are that I had only an hour or so of strong contractions and my beautiful daughter was born within 20 minutes of getting to the hospital. I should be happy with that, but I just can’t stop dwelling on what I could have “done better”. *sigh* I think it’s a personality thing, really. Some women really just want a healthy baby, and other control freaks like me want a perfect birth. I just keep telling myself that next time I will know more what I’m doing and will do better…but I’m not sure that’s even a healthy viewpoint?! I’m probably setting myself up for disappointment again…

    Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink
  30. dayle wrote:

    This in my opinion is a very important post! Some women have a very strong need to vocalize loudly (i.e. scream ;), and that is okay! My first midwife with Martin (the one that transported me), said that if I was screaming I obviously wasn’t pushing. Let me tell you, I was screaming with Mary, and boy was I ever pus…hing. Screaming to me, felt good, moving my body around constantly, felt good. I apologized after the fact, feeling insecure, to everyone about how loud I was. I later realized how silly this was though. I was doing what my body told me to do, and Mary came out peacefully, and easily. Thanks to STEPHANIE for your wonderful posts!

    Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
  31. Trena wrote:

    Stephanie, you said it best in your blog titled “Control Freaks”. Birth perfectionism is a sure symptom of the same larger cultural problem, which is, at it lowest denominator, nothing but a false belief that has no basis in reality. (My first bun has been in the oven a mere 16 weeks and I already catch myself trying to formulate this “perfect birth” experience in my head!) That said, I don’t think you can do much about the larger cultural phenomenon, or the false expectations of a “perfect” birth, other than what you are doing already: touching women’s lives each and every day…reminding and reassuring us that everything (and in fact ANYthing we do during birth) is ok…reminding us that our expectations, and life’s failure to meet OUR expectations, does not lessen US or the MIRACLE of OUR experience, no matter how much we let our heads get in the way! As for me personally, I know deep in my soul that my life, this birth, and this experience, are all on a schedule far greater than me or my teensy brain cells can even fathom (God’s schedule if you will). I just need you to remind me and give me reassurance that the crazy little evil leprechaun thoughts are NOT reality! (Yes, I give you permission to use those exact words against me one day when I’m losing my grip! LOL)

    Monday, July 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  32. Trena wrote:

    To quote Dr. Suess: “Don’t smile because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

    Monday, July 5, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Permalink
  33. Kelli wrote:

    I’d like to share something that helped me. I was very afraid of a c-section so I made it a point to make a very detailed c-sec birth plan for myself then put the critical parts on an index card in case of transport. I set up for a non-interventive homebirth. Then, educated and prepared, I prayed. “God thank you for giving me the strength to birth my baby exactly how this baby needs to be born, no matter what that looks like. Thank you for guiding me to the education and support that will make this a wonderful experience any way it unfolds. Thank you for helping me recognize my own strength in surrending to what this child needs.” I also found the serenity prayer helpful “God grant me the serentity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I understand that religion is not the answer for all women but I think the attitude I was trying to adopt is. If women realize that what makes a “good birther” is education, preparation, support, and accepting this individual child’s birth needs whether it includes screaming, singing, or a c-section then maybe more women can feel proud that they surrendured to birth with grace, even if there was fear or grief involved. And hopefully that kind of attitude would help lessen any of that fear or grief that can be natural in these unexpected, unpredictable paths to birth.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  34. Rebekah C wrote:

    I have noticed this problem as well and I think you put it into words beautifully.

    I think that the most important thing we can do is tell our stories proudly, without any editing (when invited to do so). When I gave birth the first time, I mentioned to a friend that I screamed so much I was hoarse the next day. At the time I said it, I was only slightly embarrassed. Mostly I was incredibly proud of myself for making it through a pit induction without any pain meds and birthing without any other help! But her response was, “I’m glad I was able to be stronger than that”. 0.o At the time, it crushed me. It’s a phrase that has haunted me during my other births. But what I’ve learned along the way is that every woman I’ve been honest with has appreciated it. The reality is that birth is incredibly hard work. We can share our experiences with each other in an empowering way without sugar-coating the parts that MAKE it the empowering thing that it is. There is nothing wrong with hypnobirthing, nothing wrong with admitting you had a painless birth. But there is also not a damn thing wrong with roaring and grunting and getting primal during your birth, either.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Permalink
  35. lee wrote:

    Thank you for this post. It resonates with me greatly. I’m a doula in training. I believe in the power of the mind, in the power of the birth team, and birth circumstances. Create a peaceful environment and a peaceful mind. Know your own power and that birth is NOT DANGEROUS, and you can create a beautiful experience.

    Eight weeks ago, I birthed my second son, a 10 pound (and 1/2 ounce) baby (my first was a 9.5 pounder at home) in a tub at my home.

    Contractions got stronger and close together so quickly, the midwife thought she wouldn’t make it, and sent her back up midwife. I was happy that this would be a typical quick second baby.

    When midwife arrived, I got in the tub and finally felt pushy, but unlike my first birth, it hurt to push. It wasn’t exhilarating or empowering like it was supposed to be. The fetal heartrate was strong, so the midwife let me take my time to push as I needed and rest as I needed to. So, it seemed to take a long time. I didn’t WANT to push (like last time). I kept thinking of my sister-in-law who had just had her second son. (The birth was so quick and smooth, she had her baby in the car on the way to the hospital and had her baby in her arms when they pulled up.) I kept envisioning my baby sliding out as easily. It didn’t. Even when the head finally emerged, he didn’t “slide” out as I expected. The shoulders needed more than a little assistance from my very skilled midwife.

    I did not tear. I only gained 25 pounds. I do not think that I would have done anything differently. But, I cannot say it was a pleasant experience. I would not say “disappointing” either. “Ambivalent” is probably the best word for it.

    Birth is such a passion for me, educating moms about the possibilities and the facts surrounding the varied available choices in childbirth. I was so proud of my first birth. I never doubted that I wanted to have my second baby at home as well, but it seems sad that this amazing accomplishment is clouded by ambivalence.

    Anyway, I am obviously still processing it. This will probably be our last child, so I won’t have another chance to give birth and to make different (or the same) choices.

    Thank you again for this choice, and for the opportunity to share my story.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
  36. It is good to read this–as a fellow midwife I had this experience for the first time a few months ago. One of the most beautiful waterbirths I’ve seen, but a mama disappointed in herself for not handling the pain as well as she wanted to…while I won’t discount HER experience of her, from the outside she was amazingly strong and beautiful. It got me to thinking as well–what is it that we strive for in birth? What is a good birth, or a “bad” birth? The answer lies not in the interpretation, but our inability to just be at peace with what was..what is…letting go of the need to control it, either before, during or after. While this may not be easy to “fix”, I think it is in women thinking birth needs to go a certain way. There is no “right” way to birth, truly. There is only the way that this mom, or this baby NEEDS to do it.

    Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink
  37. MeriBeth wrote:

    With the birth of my forth child, I had my first home birth. It should have been a wonderful experience…and it was. But my attitude during my birth sucked. I was very critical of myself. I viewed the birth process as a means to an end. I had expectations about myself, for myself… and physically I did great! Mentally, however, I beat myself up. Each time a contraction would end I would get a hoorah of encouragement from my husband, midwife and everyone else in attendance. My response would be a mental, “Yeah right.” I ranged between thought realms of “I am being such a baby” to “ok I am DONE with this now. Why is this baby not here yet?” It wasn’t really that those thoughts were bad or even that I was totally defeated. The bottom line was that I focused on the negative. Even though my actions were positive, my thoughts were negative. I never welcomed a contraction. I never smiled thinking about progress. I never considered the joy of being able to hold my baby soon. I thought “oh here we go again” or “that one (contraction) was too easy… I will pay for that on the next one.” During the rest-and-be-thankful stage, my thoughts were anything but thankful. I never thought praises for my body, the process or for the work my baby was doing. When it was all said and done, I was holding my baby being thankful it was over— still focusing on the negatives. As a result, I didn’t want to EVER have another baby. I had a b-e-a-u-tiful birth….it was the home birth I had always wanted. But my attitude sucked. It wasn’t until I threw out all the bad and started realigning my thoughts on all the really good, that I understood how wonderfully powerful and amazing my birth had been.
    There is no right way to birth but the way one THINKS (perceives, understands, relates, processes) about the things within birth can mean the difference between defeat and victory… satisfaction or months of postpartum depression… empowerment or emotional trauma.
    The only real way to combat this is to keep encouraging the laboring mother to communicate. The more she relays to those supporting her, the more you will be able to really help her exactly the way she needs to be.

    Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 11:58 am | Permalink
  38. comadrona wrote:

    My heart goes out to Amy – I’ve had exactly that experience myself, more than once! My homebirth was a walk in the park by comparison, and though at the time it was painful and challenging, I at last had no particular expectations of myself and we got through. I always tell my mums who are going for a VBAC after such a rough first experience that they will do fine because they’ve already done birth the hard way. I also let them know that it is impossible to control birth or plan a particular outcome and that we go better when we accept (TRUST)what our body is doing. Amy (and other control freaks like me) you have nothing to blame yourself for – you gave life for that child the best way you could at that moment!

    Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  39. comadrona wrote:

    Sorry, I meant Andra, not Amy!

    Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Permalink
  40. Stephanie,
    This post about Birth perfectionists is brilliant! We women can be so hard on ourselves! Thank you so much for writing this….

    Kelli Stapleton
    Birth Stories on Demand

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink
  41. Cristina wrote:

    thank you.

    I would never put that kind of pressure on anyone taking my class, yet I put it on myself. My beautiful girl’s birth was amazing. It did go just as I had hoped for – at home, in water and into my waiting arms.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Permalink
  42. Cerise wrote:

    I think for me, it is inherent in my nature to doubt myself and then society demands so much of me as a woman that it is hard to just believe in myself. I am very proud of how I birthed my babies. I did the very best I could with what I had and made the best decisions I could have made. Neither birth went the way I had hoped…and for completely different reasons…but that actually showed me how much stronger I am than I ever thought I was. I now know that I am strong enough to do anything…I didn’t know that before. I am grateful for the births that I had and what they taught me. I am grateful to my teachers through the process of that…including you, and my babies.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
  43. Laurel wrote:

    Though I’m not religious, Kelli’s comment about expecting even the unexpected and preparing yourself ahead of time for the possibility that your dream birth might not happen is important. After weeks of natural childbirth classes and planning, I went into labor 4 weeks early. The baby was still “floating” and was small. Contractions were intense and after 24 hours or so, I caved and asked for an epidural. Whenever I even BEGIN to beat myself up about this, I ask myself, “could I have worked any harder?” And the answer is always no. We give everything we have to give our babies life. So that’s my advice to anyone regretting something about their birth or preparing for a birth…you can only do your best and the rest isn’t always up to you.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Permalink
  44. Wonderful post. I fell victim to this – had a beautiful home birth with my first and was disappointed that it was painful and that I cried a lot and that I wasn’t all peaceful and serene like all the Hypnobirthing videos I’d seen. Honestly, I think (and I’m not bashing Hypno anything!) that the mindset for me was that birth was supposed to be comfortable and darn near painless, even downright PLEASUREABLE if I did the hypnosis stuff “right”. I remember telling my midwife “I didn’t do it right – I was never all quiet and peaceful, I was a wild beast! I feel like I failed (to give birth “right” – according to my hypno birthing plans.)” She pointed out that IT failed (the method) – and that I succeeded because I gave birth. I didn’t really believe her though. 😉 If I were to create a childbirth class, the method would be centered around this: Birth is HARD. It is WORK. It’s called LABOR because you LABOR and it’s called DELIVERY because all you want in the moment is to be DELIVERED from the intensity of it all. It is most likely the most intense and painful and yet rewarding experience you will ever have, so prepare your mind and heart to willingly receive it ALL. Don’t try to have it be any way other than the way it is. It goes how it goes, regardless of your plans. Just make sure you have a great team to support you throughout the whole journey and make INFORMED decisions long before contractions begin!

    Sunday, August 14, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Permalink
  45. Kim wrote:

    I have had women who have had births that I feared they would feel upset about because pretty much every intervention they didn’t want was necessary,yet they are thrilled with their births. I’ve seen women have what I’d consider ‘perfect’ births who were upset the birth was too short, or too…something…who feel that their births were traumatic.
    No one can make another person feel something about their births. These women brought their own experiences, understanding and expectations to the births. However they feel about it is certainly valid, but they own their own feelings.
    “Hypnobirthing that promises that if you just do their method right you will feel no pain…”
    Nope. Not even a little bit. I’ve taught HypnoBirthing for nearly 15 years. We teach that that painless birth is /possible/…not promised, not even probable, but possible. Because it is. I’ve seen it. My clients have experienced it. And I tell them about that possibility because even if I only had a 30 percent chance of, say, a medical treatment working, I’d be ticked if no one told me about it because it’s only a 30% chance. We discuss all the variables that can contribute to or contaminate a birth experience. We take about realistic expectations. One of the affirmations in HypnoBirthing is “I accept whatever turn my birthing takes.” What mades women feel good about their experience, no matter what happens, is that they felt they made their OWN best decisions and they were respected. Even then, you would have the woman who hated her orgasmic birth because she felt exposed, or the woman who hated her fast, easy labor because her partner didn’t make it home in time for the birth.

    Saturday, February 28, 2015 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

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