Preparing for Childbirth. HA! Is that even a thing? How the heck do you prepare for something that 1. You’ve never experienced or 2. You HAVE experienced but has very little track record of being predictable or consistent from one pregnancy to the next.
The answer is, you try – or not.
The more anal among us try fervently. We read the books, take the classes, practice breath awareness and meditation, hire a doula, buy a birthing ball… etc. Birth Prep. It’s a thing.
My preparation journey has thus far included some reading — which I don’t recommend doing before bed. Nothing disturbs melatonin production like the spikes of cortisol you get by reading birthing stories. My pregnancy/childbirth library consists of the following:
Christiane Northrup – Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
Ina May Gaskin – Guide to Childbirth
Emily Oster – Expecting Better
Pamela S. Wiegartz – The Pregnancy and Postpartum Anxiety Workbook
Susan McCutcheon – Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way
For my husband:
Penny Simkin – The Birth Partner
Louis and Joe Borgenicht – The Baby Owner’s Manual
Preparation has also lead us to participate in child birthing classes. We are attending Birthing from Within, a class designed to uphold the idea that childbirth is a natural rite of passage and not a medical event. BFW helps participants integrate pain management practices into daily life before the day of labor, makes distinctions between pain and suffering, encouragement to tap into our more intuitive/primal/emotional senses rather than birthing from our minds, and support for any and all birth decisions made by the participant whether they end up utilizing medical interventions or not.
One thing that drew me to this class is its perspective that childbirth cannot be controlled by excessive planning. It is fluid and unpredictable by nature. Rather than become frustrated, overwhelmed, and ultimately disappointed by a scrapped “birth plan”, we have the choice to work with the needs of our bodies and souls during this time. I am admittedly someone who typically “needs” a plan. Seeing the obvious discord between my nature and the nature of childbirth, I decided to invest my time and attention a curriculum that would encourage and teach me to get comfortable with the unknown.
Sometimes it’s overwhelming to dive into all this information and feel the anticipation of birth, but I feel like I’m really learning to trust my body and enjoy the process!