I've heard it many times, and it came up again today in a comment on a mommy group:
"Your birth experience may not have gone the way you wanted it to, but you have a healthy baby and in the end that's really the only thing that matters."
I understand this sentiment. Of course every parent hopes for a healthy baby and we would all do whatever we possibly could to ensure the health and safety of our little ones at the time of birth.
But is it really the only thing that matters?
I don't think it is.
I don't think it is because I've seen bitterness, grief and resentment re-surface when certain women have shared their birth stories with me years after their healthy babies were born.
I don't think it is because birth is an event that can affect us deeply. It can be transformative and can impact us for a lifetime in either positive or negative ways. Many women have to do a huge amount of inner work to come to grips with and heal from their difficult birth experiences, even when they've had healthy babies.
I don't think it is because birth trauma is real. And a traumatized mother is not a mother who is likely to function at her healthiest as a parent.
And what about parents who don't have a healthy baby? What if something goes wrong? What if their baby is born with a serious illness or a genetic disorder? What if their baby is stillborn or only lives a few days? If a healthy baby is the only thing that matters, where does that leave these parents? Their experience may be the only thing left of their birth, particularly if they know they will not be meeting a living baby at the end of it. And should not their caregivers strive to make that experience as positive as possible in the face of so much grief? I have a friend who had a stillborn baby late in her second trimester. It was, of course, a heartbreaking experience. But as she shared her story with me, I was struck by how she described the care she received from the student midwife who was at her birth and how that loving care helped to create a positive experience for her amidst the devastation of losing her baby. That experience mattered.
We can't control birth. We can't make a plan and expect to be able to follow every last detail of it no matter what. We don't know what interventions may end up needing to be employed. We don't know if our birth will be anything like the one we're envisioning and hoping for. We don't even know for sure if we will end up with a healthy baby. But there are things that those who care for and attend birthing women can do to help create a positive experience, one that will be treasured, regardless of how far things stray from the plan.
There are those for whom a healthy baby truly is the only thing that matters. But for many others, there are other things that matter as well and we would do well to recognize this and validate it.
A healthy baby is everyone's top priority. But a birth experience that one feels good about is hugely important and should never be blown off as something inconsequential, something that doesn't really matter. And no one should ever put their idea of what constitutes a "good" birth experience on someone else. We all have different expectations, hopes and ideals. We all are affected by things in different ways. What one person feels incredibly grateful for, another may feel traumatized by.
In the end, you and your baby matter.
Your birth matters.
Your experience of it and your feelings about it matter!
Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
Last year when the change of season from summer to fall rolled around, I began to feel extremely tired. All. The. Time. No matter how much I slept, all I ever felt like doing was sleeping some more and I never felt well-rested. Eventually my husband suggested I had better see my doctor.
My doctor gave me a thorough going-over and sent me for blood work. The results looked great and everything else she checked looked good, too. She told me that I was the perfect picture of health and her only suggestion was that I could probably stand to get a bit more cardio exercise.
I found this rather frustrating, as the way I was feeling didn't line up with the diagnosis (or lack thereof) that I got. But I took my doctor's advice and started working out regularly, as well as boosting some of my vitamin supplements and cutting down on refined sugar. These things eventually seemed to helped somewhat.
Another thing that I added to my box of wellness tools at that time was Yoga Nidra. Through a series of random events, I had found my way to Karen Brody's website, Bold Tranquility. I signed up for a free 21 day yoga nidra challenge and found it helped me to get better sleep, feel more relaxed and have more energy. I've been practicing yoga nidra regularly ever since.
So what IS yoga nidra, exactly?
Yoga nidra is a sleep-based meditation. It looks nothing at all like what we normally think of as yoga. Basically, you lie down and do nothing! Nothing but listen to a guided meditation that takes you through breathing exercises, body awareness and into deep rest and relaxation. You move through different brain wave patterns until you are in the deep brain waves of sleep, although you remain awake and aware throughout. Yoga nidra takes you to sleep consciously and some say that half an hour of yoga nidra is equivalent to four hours of sleep.
This year, as the seasons changed from summer to fall, I discovered that Karen (whose voice I fall asleep to most nights) was offering training for birth workers in yoga nidra for pregnancy and postpartum. I was very excited about the opportunity to offer this to my clients and signed up for the training. I learned more about yoga nidra, how it works and how to offer it to those I work with.
I have now completed my training, and I am thrilled to let you know that from now until the end of the year, I will be offering yoga nidra FOR FREE as part of my doula care package for those who sign on with me in this time period. I am excited to share this with you as many women have found it has given them deeper rest and better sleep, helping to lessen the fears, anxiety and stress that sometimes accompany pregnancy and the postpartum period. If you are interested in incorporating yoga nidra into our prenatal visit times, I would be happy to make that happen!
Last week I spent three days at the Birth and Beyond conference in London, Ontario.
They were long days full of learning new things, being reminded of things I knew before and generally being encouraged in my birth work.
There was a huge emphasis at the conference this year on trauma. I came away feeling much more aware of the impact that past trauma (whether birth-related or otherwise) has on pregnant and birthing women.
In the days following the conference, I have thought a lot about how all of us have stories. Sometimes our stories involve trauma. Many times, the people we interact with day to day have no idea what our stories are. When we work together through your pregnancy and birth, there are many experiences you have had, stories you have lived, that I will have no idea about. What I DO know, is that each experience in your past, both positive and negative, has shaped who you are, what choices you will make and how you will respond to labour and birth. It has shaped how you will parent and what you will choose when faced with the many decisions of a new mother or father. As your doula, I will be here to support you, whatever choices you make, trusting that you are making the best ones for who you are in this moment. I may not know all of your story, but I know that it has led you to where you are right now and I know that you are doing the very best that you can!
Hello! Welcome to my blog!
It's been a while since I've kept a blog, but for a number of years, I blogged quite avidly. After a nice hiatus, I've decided to take it up again here on my doula site.
My hope is to use this space to keep you updated about new developments in my birth work, share thoughts about all things birth related and hopefully help you to get to know me a little better. I welcome interaction and would love to hear your thoughts on what I post in the comments section.
Check back soon! I look forward to sharing with you!
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