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my birth partners: great natural labor companions

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.
I’ve written before about the births of both of my daughters (here and here), but those posts were about the run-down of events, so I appreciate the chance to highlight a favorite part of my natural birth experiences to share with you today. It will be no surprise to those of you who know my recent career move (I became a birth doula this year) that I attribute most of the success of my natural births to having great birth partners. I was lucky enough to have both my mom and my husband present at my births, and in addition to their excellent support, my births were guided by intelligent midwives.

My midwives, one present at each birth, were calm, confident, encouraging, and matter-of-fact about the progression of the birth. In true “baby catcher” form, neither ever suggested any medical intervention that might interfere with my plan to have a natural birth. It was smooth sailing all the way. Unlike the admitting nurses at both of my hospitals, the midwives took me seriously when I said my labor was far along and that I thought I was ready to push (or in the case of my second labor, when I arrived at the hospital shouting “I’m pushing!!”).

I also count the loving support of my husband as an integral part of my ability to labor without pain medication. He was fully confident in my ability and never questioned my desire to give birth naturally. He stayed by my side for the entire labor, and his constant presence allowed me to feel safe and well cared for.

imageHaving given birth naturally, my mom knew just what to say and do to make me more comfortable; plus, I trusted her when she reassured me “You are doing great. You can do this!” because I felt confident in her knowhow. She was an active participant in my labors, rubbing my back, setting up pillows to make me more comfortable, and getting me warm compresses.

Had I not been able to have her by my side, I have no doubt that I would have hired a doula. A birth doula is a non-medical trained labor assistant who provides mothers-to-be with continuous physical and emotional support, knowledge, and encouragement leading up to, during, and after the birth of their family. A doula is on hand during your labor to give you as much or little assistance, feedback, and support as you desire, and they are great resources for spouses/partners who want extra guidance.

Now that I am part of the doula community, I am simply astounded by the level of intelligent and caring support offered to women who want it. With the statistics to back their positive enhancement to the labor process, it’s a wonder to me that more people don’t know about the excellent care they offer. If you’re pregnant and considering a doula, check out Doula Match to find a doula in your area that fits your vision for the birth. Even if you think you cannot afford a doula, you will likely be able to find a low-cost student doula who is undergoing the certification process. Whether you want an active coach or a passive attendant, you can find the right person to offer you the gentle guidance you need to get the birth you want.

Editor’s note: This post is part of The Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, and Seasonal Celebration Sunday

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon June 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • I Had A C-Section. So What! — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama rewrites her birth story now that she has worked through the feelings of inadequacy and disappointment of not having the “perfect” birth.
  • The Perfect Birth — Kellie at Our Mindful Life reflects on how a birth can be far from what we imagined, but still perfect.
  • Own Your Birth: My Hope For All Expectant Moms — Andrea at Tales of Goodness shares how she owned her birth spiritually (while navigating it physically) in order to have a joyous experience.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: My Birth Experience — It wasn’t what Lily at Witch Mom wanted, but it was everything she needed.
  • The Painless Natural Homebirth of BabyE — Shannon at GrowingSlower wants women considering natural birth to know painless births are possible.
  • Reflections on Jemma’s Birth … 20 Months Later — It took a second pregnancy for That Mama Gretchen to fully embrace her first birth experience.
  • Loving My Unnatural Birth Experience — Erika at Cinco de Mommy cherishes her very first birth experience, in all its unnatural glory!
  • Be Careful What you Wish for in Birth — Amber at had two births, and it was the one that went to plan that she struggled with embracing.
  • Redeeming an unexpected hospital transfer — Lauren at Hobo Mama looks back at her first, interrupted home-turned-hospital birth, and finds the beauty in what happened.
  • All of it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen had to learn to embrace the whole experience of birth even though it meant being naked . . . with an audience.
  • Birthing Dreams & RealitiesMomma Jorje never had a “dream birth,” but she wouldn’t change a thing about her births.
  • Memories of Birth: Calm Amidst the Storm — While neither of her children’s births had been quite what she expected, Cynthia at The Hippie Housewife cherishes one moment in particular from each of her birth experiences.
  • Embracing Our Birth Stories — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares a sensitive post on her recent birth which both did and didn’t go ‘to plan’, and writes about the journey of coming to terms with the good and the bad.
  • Two Beautiful Births — Sheila at A Gift Universe remembers how her mother brought out the beauty in each of her children’s births, and tries to do the same with her sons’ birth stories.
  • Embracing My Supernatural ChildBirth Experiences… — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy shares her fond memories on both her supernatural childbirth experiences
  • Embracing the Hospital Birth Experience — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction believes that sometimes a medicated, induced hospital birth is the right choice for a natural parent.
  • Carnival: Embracing Your Birth Experience — Stephanie at The Other Baby Blog embraces the birth experience from a paleobiologist’s point of view and takes a look at how humans defy their anatomy.
  • Reflections on My First Birth and Preparing for a Second — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares the strength she didn’t realize she had until she gave birth to her son.
  • becoming a mama – embracing my birth experience — Meegs at A New Day remembers the birth of her daughter Gwenivere, and the empowered feeling it left her with.
  • What About Us? A Poem About Birth — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares a poem she wrote about healing from an unexpected and emotionally painful birth experience.
  • Be a Man: One Father’s View of Birth — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children shares her husband’s advice to other fathers and partners.
  • A Birth Monologue — Kat at MomeeeZen shares a monologue she wrote during the process of healing from her birth experiences.
  • Forgiveness: My Birth Journey — Leah at The Crunchy Farm Baby discusses what happens when her planned homebirth doesn’t end up the way she wanted, and explains her journey of forgiving herself for losing that “perfect” birth.
  • Patching together a perfect birth — KrissyFair at Think Mama, Think learned that sometimes a perfect birth happens in pieces.
  • Celebrating and Sharing the Possibilities of Perfect Birth — Terri from Child of the Nature Isle joyfully shares details of her perfect births and wishes to inspire a more positive cultural expectation about birth.
  • Instinct – Embracing Your Birth Experience — Laura at Laura’s Blog reflects on instinctual moments during and after the births of her two daughters.
  • I was Foolish Then — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings describes how foolish lack of preparation for childbirth led to a feeling of powerlessness and fear, but that in the end she had her baby in her arms, and that’s one thing she can celebrate.
  • Sometimes no plan is the best plan — Tat at Mum in search contemplates that maybe she doesn’t need a birth plan for her upcoming birth.
  • Disturbing the peace — Kenna at Million Tiny Things thought she would be a calm, quiet baby-haver. Ha!
  • Accepting the Unexpected During Birth — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM imagined herself laboring on a birthing ball but she never imagined where she’d really be most comfortable when the time came…
  • Sacred This Time, Too — Kimber at The Single Crunch learned enough to know that the way she birthed wasn’t they way she wanted to; but she also knew to enjoy it for what it was.
  • The Birth Partner: A Great Natural Labor Companion — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger thinks that the secret to her pleasant natural labors was having a great support system.
  • the Best Thing About My Labor ExperienceCrunchy Con Mommy realizes that amidst all the things that seemed to go wrong with her labor, the love and support of her husband was the one thing she could always count on!
  • Your Birth Was My FavoriteDulce de leche describes some of the highlights from each of her four births and explains why despite the differences, they are all her favorites.
  • Birth Story: Part One – Moon on a Stick!Gentle Mama Moon tells the first part of her birth story to share some of the delight of labouring at home.
  • Embracing My Birth Experience by Sharing My Birth Story — Dionna at Code Name: Mama made peace with her first birth by sharing the story with her son.
  • Focusing on the Beauty of Birth — Julia at A Little Bit of All of It shares the beautiful aspects of her birth center water birth.
  • A Joyful Induced Delivery — Amy Willa: Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work notes the meditations and perspective that helped her achieve an unmedicated birth despite being induced for medical reasons.
  • Finding Joy in an Imperfect Childbirth Experience — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells what she learned from her two very different childbirth experiences.
  • What’s to like about a c-section? — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama is glad she her second child at home, but she also cherishes much about the c-section she had four years earlier.
  • What Story Will I Tell? — Rachael at The Variegated Life realizes that the way she tells the story of her second child’s birth matters — and could be exhilarating.
  • I Quietly Put My Hopes to Rest E — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her emotional ups and downs with the highly intervened birth of her special needs daughter, Bella.
  • Tale of Six Births — Jessica at Instead of Institutions appreciates that unique challenges and joys of each of her births.
  • Labouring naturally: nature’s gift — Caroline at stoneageparent describes the most beautiful, spiritual aspect of the labour of her son, the first stages along a bumpy road to giving birth.
  • All The Woman I Am. — Lindsay at This Woman’s Work shares a poem about letting go and surrendering during the thralls of labor.
  • A twin birth story: embracing the unexpected — Megan at The Boho Mama shares her twin birth experience and how she found the silver lining when faced with preterm labor, premature birth, and a two-week NICU stay.
  • Giving Birth With Eminem — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling shares how fiery rap music contributed to an empowered homebirth with her third baby.
  • Two Different Births — Cassie at There’s a Pickle in My Life shares how she learned from her first birth experience and how to trust yourself and your body.
  • Embracing Our Potential: Birth as a Metaphor — Sheila from A Living Family guest posts at Natural Parents Network and expresses how birth has served as a metaphor to help her through other experiences in life.
  • Little Sister’s Birth Story: Our VBAC Adventure — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama describes the recent birth story of her baby girl, her pride in an epidural-free VBAC, and how her story isn’t exactly the birth experience she had planned for.
  • A Journey in Birth Confidence — Shannon at The Artful Mama shares her experiences with labor during both of her sons’ births.