When I was having my first baby, a girlfriend was due around the same time.
We both wanted natural births, and we both attended Calm Birth classes and religiously practiced breathing into our loins whilst imagining ourselves opening like flowers.
We both wrote birth plans to give to our midwives to ensure our wishes for no intervention were known.
When my labour began it was calm enough, but after 16 hours of deep breathing I was a disillusioned by my birth classes.
It was excrutiating and I wasn’t opening like a flower – more being ripped in two by an alien with sharp teeth and claws.
After 22 hours my son was in my arms and although I did not have pain relief it was not due to lack of trying.
The midwife hadn’t actually seen my birth plan because it was scrunched in the bottom of my bag, forgotten, while I was preoccupied by the fact I’d done a poo on the bed. By the time I decided I couldn’t stand another minute of the torture the midwife announced it was too late.
My friend was more passionate than I on the matter of natural birthing, but birthing classes did not prepare her for the fact that her body may not act the way she planned.
Having a plan is one thing, but the process is really out of our hands.
After three days, and emergency intervention, my friend held her baby and vowed not to go through labour again. She was traumatised by the experience, but also devastated that her body had somehow failed.
It is incredible in this era of medical marvels that we still hold this concept of natural birth so sacredly. I’m certain the thousands of women suffering fistulas around the world would have welcomed medical intervention.
In fact, it has only been in the last 70 or so years that the mortality rate during childbirth has dropped and we have these resources available.
We should be thankful, not regretful.
The fact that we have safe pain management options should be applauded, not shunned. No one ever got a medal for having a natural labour.
The one certainty of pregnancy is that the baby needs to exit your body, instead of focusing on the ‘how’ we ought to focus on getting through it alive because the true trials of motherhood begin when you hear that first cry.