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I became acutely aware of my body's natural rhythms and needs when I became pregnant with my first daughter, who is now 23. Pregnancy has a way of doing that to you. You eat when you're hungry and you rest when you're sleepy, because the signals are so strong that you can't ignore them!
When it came time to give birth, I put myself in the hands of a very well-known and supposedly competent obstetrician with a great reputation. It became obvious, though, that allowing me to follow my natural rhythms was not priority on the doctor's list; I was just one of the herd in an assembly line process. Instead, I had a very medically managed birth that felt out of sync with my body's intuition, and was anything but natural. It was extremely invasive, medicated, and mechanical. I really learned to listen to and trust myself and my body's signals from that day on.
When it came time to have my second child, I opted for a nurse-midwife and a very specific birth plan. What a different experience that was. I labored in the shower and my child's birth progressed naturally without intervention — that is, until the nurse-midwife decided to break my water and put my legs into stirrups, an excruciatingly painful position to be in.
That was it for me! No more hospital births, no more intervention, no more people giving me counterintuitive advice on my body.
My last two daughters were born at home with a midwife. No interventions, no one trying to tell me what to do — except for one moment when I was on all fours (a great position for me to manage pain since the first time I gave birth) and my midwife asked if I could turn over so that they could monitor me. "You'll just have to do that with me in this position because I am not moving!" was my very adamant reply, and she complied. I was in the throes of labor and wasn't about to interrupt that process so that she could check my dilation or take my blood pressure and temperature.
I had uncomplicated pregnancies, was very healthy, and even played tennis until the eighth month of my last pregnancy. I was almost 41 when my daughter was born. Home birthing may not be for everyone, but I would definitely recommend listening to your body's signs and honoring that innate wisdom we all possess. I know of more than one mother who was told not to push, who was medically managed and gave birth to a baby with brain damage from lack of oxygen. Your body knows what to do and birth is a natural process if you respect it and let it progress organically.