Tuesday, March 15, 2011

why I love childbirth.

I love giving birth.  Maybe that’s why I’m so anxious to have this baby, NOW!  (That and the fact that all my help is here and we have nothing to do but wait). 

Let me say it again, I. Love. Giving. Birth.

I think it is the greatest adventure I’ve ever experienced.  (And I think I’ve had a lot of great life adventures.)

It is hard.  It is work.   It is real and huge and primal.  And all those things are what I love about it.  Those intense feelings that you never feel in the hum drum of everyday life.  They are what make it a miracle.

My biggest nightmare when I’m approaching my due date is that I’m going to have the baby and somehow not experience the birth, the pain, the challenge, the triumph.  I’ve never felt so much in my life.  And I like to feel.  It’s what I believe we’re here for. 

And I’ve never felt so close to heaven.  Giving birth is the closest I’ve been to God.  Creating life with Him.  Depending on the Atonement and the Savior’s grace to get me through what I can not do on my own.   In that moment of transition when I feel terrified and alone and weak and near death….. I am carried.  And then comes the cry from a new life.  An old soul squished into a new body.  Here.  Under my stewardship.  Ready for living, feeling, suffering, experiencing, breaking, healing, enjoying, rejoicing. 

I’m hesitant to even write about this on the blog because everyone has such different experiences with childbirth. I know a huge huge part of the reason giving birth is so amazing for me is that my body is set up right for it.   My labors (so far) are intense and hard, but doable and don’t last too long.    I don’t want to sound naïve in writing about this…..I know many women who have believed in the power of childbirth, have prepared for it and thought about it and it hasn’t turned out to be magical for them for one reason or another.  But I also know a lot of women who haven’t thought much about what this experience can be  and childbirth hasn’t turned out magical for them either.

I just want to put it out there that Childbirth can be an amazingly transformative, empowering experience with the right help, the right support, the right education and some luck. 

I think what is important about childbirth is that we think about it, that we research and learn and be proactive and trust ourselves and our bodies..   When I was pregnant with Hazel my journey started out just following what I thought everyone else did.  Get a doctor and go to the hospital that could help me in the highest risk situation.   I didn’t think much about what birth really is and can be until some dear friends gave me some books to read, suggested I think about a few things and gently opened up the wide world of birth to me.  I researched and read and learned all I could.  I thought about what I wanted, what was important to me in childbirth.  I read about people’s experiences. I started forming my own dreams and creating space in my life for Childbirth to transform me.

I decided that I don’t think it matters as much what kind of birth we choose, but that we really choose and don’t just let this miraculous event be controlled by our culture, our assumptions, our doctor or midwives, our friends.  Where and how we give birth should be a deliberate journey.  And then, once we’ve chosen our path and started down it we are aware and educated and can deal with all the unexpected things along the way.  

So, for what it’s worth, here are some of the things I love about childbirth:

  • I love it that childbirth connects me with all birthing mothers throughout all of space and time.  I know that sounds pretty new agey and maybe a little strange, but it is a real connection.  I remember before Hazel was born wanting so much to experience what my grandmothers and great grandmother experienced....to connect with that great power of motherhood.  Some people believe that as babies go through the birth canal all their nerves are kind of squeezed into functioning……it prepares them for life.  I think in the same way the sacrifices and ‘labor’ of childbirth prepare me to mother powerfully.  They teach me about my power and also my weakness and my reliance on God.  

Birth is not only about making babies.

Birth is about making mothers ~

strong, competent, capable mothers who

trust themselves and know their inner strength.

- Barbara Katz Rothman

  • I love the places I go during a contraction.  During some, I connect with my baby.  I envision all the productive things the pain is doing inside of me to help my baby come out, I think of a wave washing over and melting things away to make room for the baby.  During others I put myself on the beach at bear lake on a calm august day.  It is still.  It is calm.  During others I think of all those mothers all over the world that are laboring in different places and in different ways.  I think of the mother in Pearl Bucks The Good Earth who delivered her child on her own, strapped him on her back and went back to work in the fields.  I think of the indigenous woman I read about in my college anthropology class who went far away from the village, birthed her baby, bit through the cord, buried the placenta and walked back to the village triumphant with her child.  And then I look around and count my lucky stars that I’m in a beautiful birth center surrounded by so much support.
  • I love my birth team.  My doula who quietly coaches Jeff through supporting me.  My mom whose empathy and compassion give me strength.  The competent, reassuring care of the birth center midwives and nurses.  Everyone totally zeroed in on me and what I need.  Riding the waves of each contraction with me in the ways that I need them to.
  • I love the Cambridge Birth Center.  Just walking into that place makes me feel powerful and at peace at the same time.  They dim the lights when I want them to.  The medical stuff for emergencies is there, but I don’t see it.  There are big tubs to labor in.  Comfortable homey rooms to recover in.  It’s quiet.  It feels like home (only much better because there are no dust bunnies and I don’t have to worry about cleaning it).
  • I love the work of labor.  It is a challenge.  It pushes me to all of my limits.
  • I hate pushing, but love it too.  Finally I can do something with all that pain rather than just let it wash over me.  I can grunt and breath and push and yell. 
  • And then there’s the rush and the relief of that baby coming out.  Yes, the burning is hell, but the slithering of the rest of the baby’s body, that first cry, that wriggly blue body being placed skin to skin on you.  The start of a new life right there in front of you. 

Sure, this is a pretty glorified view of it…..but I think (if everything goes well) when I write again in a few days after going through it again these feelings might even be stronger.  I just think if everything progresses normally and if you have the right team and place childbirth is the most exhilarating, empowering thing you can experience. 

For some pretty amazing pictures of birth check out this photographers website (warning, some are pretty graphic to our eyes that are so trained to reject primal looking stuff…..but I think it’s that primal stuff that makes it all so amazing.  That, and the amazing expressions on everyone's faces as they greet a new life. 


  1. I love this so much saydi and I love what you have taught me about childbirth and mouthing so much and I reserve you now to be my doula. I also love how as I grow up I get to realize more and more how my heart is the same as my sister's. I love seeing myself in you and try to be more like you to see that more. can't wait to meet baby shumway. although I am ALMOST as excited about the water heater announcement as I will be about the news when the baby comes! :)

  2. mouthing=mothering.

  3. I am so moved by this post, thank you for sharing. My prayers are with you for a wonderful birth!

  4. Your cousin Diana sent me a link to this post thinking I'd enjoy it. I definitely did! Just gave birth at home to my 4th baby 2.5 weeks ago. Best wishes on your upcoming birth!

  5. Awesome post, Saydi!! I loved reading it... and it makes me want to have another baby. :) I love birth. (And hope you get to experience it soon--probably Friday, right before Daisy's, right?)

  6. Hi- I'm a Bradley instructor and one of my old students Natalie sent this to me. She knew I would love it and she's right! I was wondering if I could have your permission to reprint this on my blog learn2birth.net?

  7. Sorry. It's actually learn2birth.blogspot.com



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