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August 31, 2011

{My Thoughts} Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

This past weekend, with Irene visiting, I strategically borrowed a book from a good friend of mine "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" and decided that while the Husband was reading through his 4 book series of Game of Thrones, I'd sit next to him and enjoy some quality time while we both read. I haven't finished it yet, as it is broken up into two parts - first part is birth stories and second part is basically things to know prior to birth; but have found it to be a very powerful reading.

Regardless of whether you birth at home, in a birth center, in a hospital or on The Farm, the reading helped to give me a better confidence in my own body and a realization that my mind and emotions are just involved in the birthing process as is my body.

A constant theme in the book is that our minds are very connected to our bodies. In other words, if something is bothering you or holding you back - a financial worry or even fear, it can prevent our bodies from letting go to give birth. We in effect are fighting our bodies and don't even realize it. She gives many examples of how, once the worry or concern is expressed or even resolved, that a woman goes from 3cm to 9cm within hours after having labor being stalled. I found this very interesting.

Here are just a few things that stuck out after reading Part 2 of the book (and these are VERY general statements, so may not apply to you):
  • While birth could be described as painful, there are many other words to describe it as well. We, however, are plagued with a society that has constantly held birth to be viewed as something to fear (just watch one episode of A Baby Story). TV will always show you women who are screaming in pain, strapped down to a bed, hooked up to machines and nurses and doctors running around like crazy. But that is not the only type of birth there is. 
  • Women have been trained to fear birth. Quietly, society and media have instilled in us that we aren't built or made to give birth and can only do so with a surgeon looking on. (**Some births do require a hospital setting and a surgeon looking on, so please don't take this statement as an anti-OB statement. It is not) Yet, women will put themselves through arduous painful hours at the gym, through cosmetic surgery and etc for beauty - and that is not something to be feared? When we hear someone has done a natural birth, we are all in shock and think "why on earth would you do that?" There should be no judgment in a person's choice.
  • Our baby has his/her own plans when it comes to birthing. Have a plan but be flexible.
  • Instead of using negative words when thinking of birth, try to use words without such negative connotation...this can help the mind not fear it so much. 
  • Listen to your body.
  • Your body is not a lemon. 
  • Everything that happens during the birthing process, happens for a reason. 
After reading this book and going through some of the birth stories, I realized
  • how important it is to LOVE your bodies. We so often take our bodies for granted. I know that I will always talk about how fat I am, or jiggly. I never think about the fact that every part of my body is in good working function and has done amazing things for me for the past 34 years. But I need to learn to love my body. Respecting my body will help me to have faith in my body to birth. To listen to my body when it is trying to tell me something. Being self-aware in this manner can be a life's lesson that i'm learning during this very important time. 
  • I need to read up on the happy birth stories and not just the traumatic scary ones. While you can't help but be aware that scary birthing stories DO happen, how often do we spread the happy birth stories. The stories of mom's who actually enjoyed their birthing experience b/c they knew what that process would bring. 
  • I need to surround myself with positivity and support. If we ever discuss natural births, I don't want the reactions to be "WHAT?" "Why are you trying to be a hero?" "What were you thinking?" etc... It is important that as I respect other's decisions to follow their own birth plan, i get the same respect. Natural birth is as valid as a choice as a birth with interventions. And Choices should be respected.
  • You can have a mommy/baby focused labor/birth and not one focused on the hospital's guidelines or Dr's schedule.
  • There is always an inherent risk in birth and that does not necessarily diminish in a hospital setting.
  • Any emotional or mental baggage I have pre-birth, I need to try to resolve right away. Sometimes just stating it out loud relieves you from the stress. It'd be good for me to figure this out now.  
  • Even with a birth plan and my type A personality, our baby may decide to come pre-term, upside down, sunny side up - etc and at that point, my birth plan may change... but as long as we are focused on the well being of the baby - all will be well!
 And mostly I need to Remind myself that I am strong. I am empowered. I am not a lemon!

I would highly suggest this book for anybody who is going to birth. It is a bit granola, I won't lie - but there's nothing wrong with that :) And I don't suggest reading it to try to change people's minds b/c this book is mostly about natural birth, but rather b/c it can open your mind to your options and to read positive and happy birth stories so the fear of birth can be diminished. We need to read happy birth stories, to know they actually do exist.


  1. I definitely think it's great to consider all the options available! Glad you found a good read to get you through the hurricane.

  2. Good post. People make up really detailed birth plans, my birth plan is to get the baby out as safetly and easily as possible, I don't really care the specifics of how that needs to happen.

  3. i love this post! sounds like a great book! glad to know we're not lemons too. that gives me weird pictures in my head! lol


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