At every turn of life, there is a choice to make. When I was pregnant with my daughter, who was a single footling breech, I had to decide whether to go into labor or opt for a Cesarean two weeks before my due date like the doctors advised. I took the time to think about it and decided that there was a chance she could turn in labor. She didn't turn but to this day, I am grateful that I felt the contractions of labor. I will never wonder, "If only I had labored, maybe she would have turned."
I had another choice as to whether or not to go back to work when she was young. I thought about it. I decided that I would never have this opportunity again and wanted to enjoy every minute of it fully, so I stayed home. To this day, I am glad that I did.
Each time I had to make a decision, I took time to think about it. Awareness and expression of thoughts is very important. In BirthWorks classes, birthing parents are given ample opportunity to express their thoughts, fears, and joys. Speaking fears is a way of releasing them. They hear stories from other women who have given birth. They begin to develop a base of current and evidence-based knowledge. This will serve them well when having to make decisions in labor.
In childbirth, women are faced with many decisions such as choosing their birth place, the birth team, positions in labor, and whether or not to accept various medical procedures and/or obstetrical drugs. These decisions will be based on knowledge, love, self-confidence and too often fear.
A fear based thought might sound like, "If the contractions become too painful and I can't take it, I'll request an epidural." A thought based on knowledge and love/self confidence might sound like "If the contractions become too painful, I'll go into the birthing pool and find positions to work with the contractions, and I'll make sounds. Thousands of other women have done this and I can do it too!"
I believe that choices women make in childbirth that are based on fear and/or lack of knowledge, are ones they later live to regret. Choices they make that are based on love and self confidence are usually ones they feel good about in the months and years after birth. Regardless of the choices that women make, I believe one thing- that every choice a woman makes is right for her at that point in time because she is her own best friend. If indeed we are doing our very best at any given point in time, what more can we ask of ourselves than that? It is not anyone's place to judge another person's choice. As childbirth educators, all we can do is offer information in terms of options, and alternatives to expand the available choices open to birthing parents. And we can do one more thing; we can offer them our love.
This is a letter written by our BirthWorks president Cathy Daub for the Summer 2006 Edition of our newsletter.
Please feel free to use our comment section below to post your thoughts and experiences of choices in your own childbirth.